The perfect second leg – 1/17

So, apparently, it works pretty well to pre-draft these working titles (see above which was already drafted on Thursday). It has been done like this for the third time this season (at home for the derby, against Wehen-Wiesbaden & now against Bielefeld). The odds are nothing less than perfect! OMG, what if we forget to do this in the new year…

The FCSP wins against Bielefeld, the leader of the table, with a 3-0 result and thus Bielefeld loses their first away match of the season (and in total it’s only their second away loss in 2019!). In a match which was quite appealing and which had a lot to offer from a tactical perspective. So let’s dive straight in.

Of course, it all came as it was supposed to: I expected a 4-1-4-1 as a defensive formation of the FCSP and also announced it accordingly. But of course, this was only the expectation of a random wannabe-tactics-brain while Jos Luhukay and his team did think ahead and let the FCSP show up in a surprising 3-4-3 formation. Luhukay later replied to my question during the post-match press conference concerning the line-up that he intended to mostly mirror the opponent’s line-up to better get into a counter-pressing. Partly, the FCSP performed a very high pressing (as it proved as a suitable approach against teams coached by Neuhaus which are usually seeking to built-up flatly). And this worked formidably during the first 25 minutes. The first highlight was, of course, the corner-ball which lead to the 1-0. Honestly spoken, I was actually busy to write down an interesting formation of Bielefeld at corner balls of their opponents. I was honestly thinking that I wouldn’t miss anything as we are usually not very well-known for our enormous goal threat at set-pieces. Just another wannabe-moment…

What a blatant formation of Bielefeld when the opponents play a corner ball. With two offensive players positioned at the middle line, three players of the FCSP are kept busy defending. This causes a lot of space for transition moments.

During the 3-4-3, Zander played as a central defender while Ohlsson formed a line of four in the midfield with Sobota, Becker and Miyaichi. And Buchtmann, who played in the offensive midfield, actually joined Gyökeres and Veerman in the attacking line when in ball possession.
This system did actually work pretty well at start as Bielefeld did have plenty of ball possessions though but had no idea how to use it as it proved difficult to find available players. And especially the whole play of Bielefeld was successfully disturbed with this system. An orderly built-up play was only supposed to happen later in the match. And so, there were many ball gains which were at least one time processed extremely well, namely to score the 2-0.

The line-ups with Bielefeld in ball possession when the match started. The FCSP massively disturbed Bielefeld’s built-up play with their 3-4-3 formation.

Offensively, the FCSP formed something like a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2, I am not entirely sure which is correct. Due to the high pressing of Bielefeld, a lot of chip balls were played closely to the DSC’s defensive line of four (and Bielefeld lined up in a stable 4-3-3 as a defensive formation). And because of this high turn-out of chipped balls, Bielefeld replied with the formation of a line of five in the back then which caused an outnumbering for the FCSP before this line in case of second balls.
And the well-done starting phase was perfectly followed by the 2-0 before Uwe Neuhaus decided to change his tactic slightly. The offensive wingers Voglsammer and Clauss positioned themselves much wider when in ball possession. This caused a widely stretched line of three of the FCSP. And additionally, goalie Ortega tended to play long balls to his wingers more often now, where, according to the line-up, man-to-man duels were much more often now. Anyway, Ortega is a remarkably good goalie for the built-up play who is extremely strong with the ball at his feet and with a good eye for possible outnumbering situations at long balls too – he might even be a successful professional fielder.

Two examples of the 3-4-3. Remarkably, how high the FCSP acted during this phase (and check it out compared to the 4-1-4-1!).

Then, the strongest phase of Bielefeld began with many situations in which their players were able to escape on the flanks as their fullbacks Hartherz and Brunner followed them quite well (and were thus able to build pass triangles with Edmundsson and Hartel). The fullbacks were now positioned much higher when in ball possession compared to the beginning of the match and the defensive midfielder Prietl dropped between the central defenders more often. All in all, the pressure was extremely massive now, however, during this phase, the support in the stadium was equally good. And this was of enormous importance. As a reaction, the FCSP already reacted during the first half and now formed a  4-3-3 formation, which was better taken by Bielefeld but did not cause many chances to happen for Bielefeld. Maybe a bit lucky, we reached half-time without a goal conceded.

At the end of the first half, the FCSP turned their formation into a 4-3-3 as Bielefeld’s wingers were now positioned at the outer flanks. However, it proved to be only partly successful as the fullbacks of Bielefeld acted close to FCSP’s line of midfielders where they were almost every time available for passes as our midfielder’s line of three were forced to focus more on the centre).

But it got better during the second half. And this was also the time when the formation I predicted earlier was finally formed on the pitch: the 4-1-4-1 of the FCSP. This formation, with Gyökeres at the left flank could get a much better grip of the highly positioned fullbacks of Bielefeld without having to offer too much space in the centre (as there was a real central defending midfielder playing now)
So now, Bielefeld had much more ball possession and also some chances though (as there has to be a reason why they are currently leading the table), however, they did not really cause a lot of trouble for us. Instead, we scored the 3-0. And this was thankfully due to a finally really good again Ryo Miyaichi, who had plenty of deep runs where he could turn his speed into something useful.

The 4-1-4-1 of the FCSP during the second half. And compare the deep positioning on the pitch to the higher one of the 3-4-3 during the first half. Quite an enormous switch, which, however, took a lot of Bielefeld’s momentum.

All in all, the FCSP was even able to convince during some phases of the second half when in ball possession. And sometimes, it’s a kind of flow which the team gets. Out of a sudden, the running paths and distances just became perfect and the players of Bielefeld appeared to always be too late in every situation. It was absolutely ecstatic! And with these scenes in my mind, I’ll better cope with the winter break now.
Yes, agreed, I have to revise my judgement about Gyökeres with regard to his lack of speed. Well, in terms of his end speed, he’s definitely not the measure for ordinary wingers. But with the ball on his feet, he’s not really losing much of his speed. And additionally, he knows how to use his entire body. Just another awesome match of him. Alike the other player on loan from the same club. It’s simply incredible how Leo Østigård managed to almost completely defuse Fabian Klos, the best striker of the league. And that he’s winning almost every header duel despite his height has a simple reason – his jump height:

And of course, Henk is a striker of outstanding class in the second division. That’s for sure one of the positions on which we barely have any problems as I am assigning the same classification to Diamantakos. And I’ve already written about Gyökeres. I will for sure remember the picture of Henk Veerman being hugged by Jos Luhukay after he got substituted for a long time.
But if there’s one single player to highlight, I would like to honour the merit of Luca Zander who was forced to simply build the right part of the central defending against a top-notch team like Bielefeld. What an outstanding performance he was able to show!

Nobody has to be concerned about this team“ – a statement of  Luhukay during the post-match press conference which is still ringing in my mind. This is a blatant difference compared to his statement before the same match of the first leg which was dropped at the much-cited press conference shortly before the season started in which he outlined why he didn’t consider the FCSP (in the state back then) a top-notch team. It clearly appears now as if the team and manager finally managed to join forces. I, personally, have absolutely no doubts about our manager (and of course not about our team as a competitor of the second division). Of course, we’re only two points ahead of the relegation. And we can’t manage to state “false start” soon enough and will be back on the relegation position if we are going to fuck up the very first upcoming matches after the winter break. However, I am absolutely optimistic that we will be able to witness a few more beautiful matches of our team during this season. Because we will simply keep on to draft our working titles now…

// Tim (Translated by @Parneq)

Links related to the match (almost all in German language only):
Podcast: Vor dem Spiel Gespräch (VdS) // Nach dem Spiel-Gespräch (NdS) 
Stefan Groenveld – Schön langweiliger Abschluss
magischerfcblog – Three is the magic number
FCSP Athens Scum – Matchday 18 (English)

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