VfL Bochum are back on top of the 2. Bundesliga going into the international break with a comfortable 3-0 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf. Whilst Simon Zoller, Gerrit Holtmann and Soma Novothny scored the goals, the result was as much about the man at the other end of the field.
Manuel Riemann has been in absolute beast mode pretty much all season. He is a goalkeeper whose violate temperament was often a destabilising factor for the team, but he is simply on another level now.
His performance on this night was particularly impressive for two reasons. He revealed after the game that he had lost his grandfather – a pivotal figure in the development of his career – just a day earlier. He determination to play for him shone through despite an injury that could have ended his evening very early.
A collision with a Düsseldorf player early on looked innocuous enough but he soon bent down in pain, and in the minutes after he was clearly struggling to move – yet despite that he was still able to make his first big save of the evening, with an excellent reaction save to keep out a Dawid Kownacki header.
His movement on his feet soon became easier and he was a big reason that Bochum went in at 2-0 up at half time. Düsseldorf had more of the play yet on the few occasions they did find the target, Riemann was there to prevent them from making that dominance count. Kristoffer Peterson’s shot before the second goal might have gone in, but Riemann seemingly effortlessly managed to scoop it up with an out-stretched arm
Of course Düsseldorf’s own vulnerabilities were just as responsible for the deficit, with their defence all at sea on both of the goals and Florian Kastenmeier failing to provide the command in his area that his counterpart did at the other end. His positioning for the first goal was poor, rushing out towards Holtmann only to find himself too far away as the latter cross in for Zoller.
They succumbed all too easily to the Bochum press for the second goal as well, Robert Žulj with a sublime ball to set up a determined Holtmann. That goal seemingly killed off the game, with the hosts never threatening as much as they did in the spells before both of Bochum’s first half goals. Perhaps memories of November’s 5-0 defeat lingered heavy in the memory.
Düsseldorf’s efforts seemed futile and Riemann will have been grateful that they lacked the bite to real test his creaking body, with the injury clearly still bothering him at half-time. Nevertheless he gritted his teeth and the pain would have been eased by the control his side had in front of him and the determination that was fuelling him.
Bochum found the net thrice more in the second half, but only the third time counted, and Kastenmeier came out of it looking a lot worse. He couldn’t hold a long-range effort from Thomas Eisfled and Novothny, just off the bench, punished him by scoring the rebound. Last week’s defeat to Hamburg was firmly forgotten.
Riemann has never played in the Bundesliga but his team are on their way to getting there. He can only look at the plaudits on Stefan Ortega as had for Arminia Bielefeld this season – and even being linked with Bayern – and he will see no reason why he can’t match a man who has been his adversary so many times in the second tier. All for his Opa.
Kastenmeier already has Bundesliga experience from last season of course, but he could learn a lot from the man at the other end this evening.