Relegation-battling Bochum are showing signs of life under Thomas Letsch, and have Japan's Takuma Asano to welcome back into the fold in the new year.
Story so far
Bochum enjoyed a trouble-free return to the Bundesliga last term, finishing 13th and claiming famous wins over Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but the wheels came off in the early part of 2022/23. Bottom of the Bundesliga table and without a point after six games, Thomas Reis was shown the door.
Letsch arrived in the promotion-winning coach's stead, striking gold at the second attempt in a shock win at home to UEFA Europa League holders Eintracht Frankfurt. There have been further home triumphs against Union Berlin and Borussia Mönchengladbach, as well as a first away victory since April - in Augsburg.
Although their form has been very much feast-or-famine, Bochum have given themselves a fighting chance. The Ruhr outfit have moved off the foot of the table at the expense of Reis's Schalke, and to within two points of safety. Indeed, victory over fellow strugglers Hertha Berlin in their first game back could lift them out of the bottom three altogether.
Key man: Manuel Riemann
Bochum may have the Bundesliga's leakiest defence with 36 goals conceded, but they'd be even more in the red were it not for Manuel Riemann. The Bochum No.1 has repelled a league-high 64 of the 98 shots he's faced - the kind of ratio that could have a major bearing on the relegation fight when the final ball of 2022/23 is kicked - or saved - on 27 May.
Bochum belied their lowly standing against Gladbach on Matchday 14. Two goals in the opening 12 minutes from Christopher Antwi-Adjei and Philipp Hofmann set up a stirring 2-1 win, in a reminder that the Ruhrstadion can once again be the fortress it was during 2021/22.
Watch: Highlights as Bochum down Gladbach!
One to watch: Takuma Asano
Asano missed over half of the Hinrunde through injury, but recovered match fitness in time to feature for Japan at the 2022 World Cup. The 28-year-old winger showed his prowess with a match-winning goal from the bench against Germany, and will be a welcome re-addition to the Bochum starting ranks.
View from the camp
"We've got 13 points on the board. Considering where we've come from to get to where we are now, that's pretty decent." - Bochum striker Simon Zoller
- Hertha Berlin (h), 21 January
- Schalke (h), 4 March
- VfB Stuttgart (a), weekend beginning 7 April
- Borussia Dortmund (h), weekend beginning 28 April
- Augsburg (h), weekend beginning 12 May
Watch: The Bundesliga is back!
All 2022/23 season reviews:
Augsburg | Bayer Leverkusen | Bayern Munich | Borussia Dortmund | Borussia Mönchengladbach | Cologne | Eintracht Frankfurt | Freiburg | Hertha Berlin | Hoffenheim | Mainz | RB Leipzig | Schalke | Union Berlin | VfB Stuttgart | Werder Bremen | Wolfsburg
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