Babbel mystified by Hoffenheim's slump

Coach Markus Babbel has admitted he was left mystified after nine-man Hoffenheim were hammered 4-0 at home by Eintracht Frankfurt to leave them bottom of the Bundesliga.

This was Hoffenheim's third defeat in three competitive matches since suffering a shock 4-0 defeat at fourth-division minnows Berliner AK 07 in the German Cup a fortnight ago, then a 2-1 loss at Moenchengladbach last weekend.

Things went seriously array for Hoffenheim at their Rhein Neckar Arena on Saturday as both midfielder Sejad Salihovic and defender Stephan Schroeck were sent off in the second half for receiving second yellow cards.

"I have no logical explanation," admitted ex-Liverpool defender Babbel, who has coached VfB Stuttgart and Hertha Berlin.

"This performance is a mystery to me. This is definitely a bad start.

"This is bitter for the guys, it has hurt us."

Hoffenheim's miserable afternoon took a turn for the worst when midfielder Alexander Meier scored Frankfurt's opening goal on 39 minutes before captain Pirmin Schwegler added a second just before the interval.

Hoffenheim had midfielder Sejad Salihovic sent off on 70 minutes for two quick bookings, and Philippines defender Stephan Schroeck followed after he was shown his second yellow card three minutes later.

The hosts' misery was compounded when Meier netted his second with a penalty on 83 minutes before Martin Lanig headed the fourth in the 90th minute.

"After going 1-0 down, you could see the boys were shocked," said the 39-year-old Babbel.

"I was very disturbed, because we didn't then respond positively, so we were 2-0 down at half-time.

"During the break, I knew that it is difficult to change things around.

"I tried to give us a fresh start with a few replacements, but the two sendings off threw that out of the window."

With a two-week break coming up after the international matches, Babbel admits he has plenty of work to do to stop the rot ahead of Hoffenheim's next match against Freiburg on September 16.

Babbel has reshuffled Hoffenheim with ex-Liverpool striker Ryan Babbel being sold to Ajax, fellow Dutchman Edson Braafheid has been loaned to FC Twente, while ex-captain Andreas Beck was left out of the matchday squad.

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