“I just wanted to let you know that I’ll head to the GP now as a wooden stake dropped on my foot on Saturday.“ This was the short info I received of my driver to Bielefeld yesterday at noon. Not a big thing I thought at first, simply apply some ointment and that’ll be fixed. “I broke my foot.“ was the by far even worse news I received at 1.30pm. Now I was stressed as I had to search for some new travel mates to Bielefeld. As the Fanladen-Tours were already sold out for the trip to Bielefeld, a nine-seater leaving from the Stresemannstr. offered me a seat but unfortunately only to get to Bielefeld but not back. Doesn’t matter, I’ll somehow organise the travel back to Hamburg and thus, I embarked on my trip to Bielefeld. The twitter-network did function more than well and within the shortest timeframe imaginable I had several travel options back to Hamburg and as I was just about to choose one of them I got the update: “my foot ain’t broken” (well, thanks to everyone, even the unknown people who offered me travels). So everything was back to normal, aside that I had acquired mighty blisters at my heels due to some extra walking around. I am currently enjoying my holidays and didn’t wear proper shoes for more than three weeks now which took its revenge on my way from my home to the meeting point. And there was even more revenge in Bielefeld where we parked half-legally on a courtyard from where we had to walk lots of meters from the car to the visitor’s stands. Usually, I am quite reluctant to moan but, holy cow, that was hurting. Doesn’t matter either, from today on, my feet are again allowed to breath fresh air all day long as I have another week of holidays ahead. So let’s get to the by far more important thing: the end of the summer break.
And as it is the case when things are coming to an end, people always like to look back and see whether everything was as it should have been or whether something could have gone better. Sunday at the pre-match press conference, it became more than obvious that not everything had been and still isn’t well at the FCSP. That’s nothing completely new to us, but maybe Jos didn’t choose the very best moment to announce this fact (or did he?) However, he made it very clear that the team in its current composition as well as (and this got even more attention) its mental attitude isn’t fit for promotion to the first division. Well, this isn’t a real surprise either, as we were all able to witness the team also wasn’t fit for promotion last season and the team’s composition didn’t change much since then.
And I also didn’t protest loudly when it was mentioned that the team was lacking the right attitude. No, this concern was already frequently raised during last season’s second leg, more or less clearly even by some players.
So what was the blatant and the new and the unacceptable of the press conference? The timing? Was maybe not well chosen, agreed. The match in Bielefeld did, however, show the opposite with a team on the pitch fighting in every single of the entire 95 minutes. So maybe it was just a wake-up call at the right time after all? We will find out during the next couple of weeks. To me, Jos Luhukay appears as a driven guy, a manager, who always wants to get the maximum out of his teams and who sometimes annoys others by doing so. And maybe very likely he is exactly the type of manager the players need right now?
But let’s leave it to this, as I have no real clue and am just speculating about certain things.
Let’s focus on the match:
You can turn things up and down over and over again, but Arminia Bielefeld coached by Uwe Neuhaus is a team that is keen to play football. As all teams coached by Uwe Neuhaus were before. And we should rest for a short moment and be thankful to him. Thank him for the fact that during dark phases when all teams of the second division try to avoid possible mistakes by any chance, he still allows his teams to play a brave ball possession-oriented type of football and he keeps on doing just that. No matter if at Dresden, Union or now at Bielefeld, the focus is towards ball possession. I think that’s honourable. This is, however, no real part of the actual match report but I had to get rid of this fact.
The FCSP started with a 4-1-4-1 formation with Hornschuh as a defensive midfielder and Knoll as a centre-back. This line-up was no real surprise after the pre-season matches and the injury of Østigård. And being honest, also Conteh in the starting squad was no real surprise either, as he was already part of the starting line-up during the friendly matches at pre-season. And while Hornschuh and Conteh can for sure be named as winners of the season’s preparation, we have to acknowledge that Sahin was not even a member of the squad and Sobota and Buchtmann were no substitute options although there was an urgent need for players of their positions during the match. But before I start to loose myself again in vague speculations, let’s focus on the hard facts:
The FCSP performed a very deep 4-1-4-1 during the first half. This formation was already played during last season and someone was for sure wondering at the beginning of the match where the “permanent stress” announced by Luhukay was which the opponents were supposed to experience, the brave forward defending and the consistent flat build-up. Well, it is definitely of some benefit if the manager is already part of the second division for some time. In our case, our manager is with us for four months now and Jos Luhukays first home match was against? Correct, Arminia Bielefeld. The detailed match report can be read here (click!). In short: Jos Luhukay already tried the “permanent stress“ against Bielefeld during the first half back in April and Bielefeld passed this stress test outstandingly. This is why Luhukay changed to a different formation in the second half which functioned much better: a 4-1-4-1.
The difference of yesterday’s 4-1-4-1 to the one from April was the distance between the lines of fours. While back in April, the chains were especially vertically some distance apart, yesterday there was hardly any space between the lines of the FCSP. While doing that, the midfielders line of four was joined by Hornshuh in the centre. This allowed the wide midfielders to use the spaces at the flanks pretty well.
Additionally, the FCSP used its speed when attacking which especially proved well during their transition play.
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St. Pauli Stats (@stpaulistats) <a
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Hence, transition play functions best, when performed with the highest speed possible. Our strikers who played yesterday are capable of doing just that (and no offence but with Allagui and Meier this wouldn’t have been possible)
As a team coached by Uwe Neuhaus, Bielefeld relied on their well-behaved ball possession football with a 4-3-3 formation on paper and with a lot of position play. This appeared especially during the first half as rather non-lucrative art, however, it had a lot of thought trough movements and practised running paths in it. Hence, Yabo was sometimes keen to move from the centre to the flanks or even to join the central striker in the front in order to overcharge the respective areas with players. And also Klos as a centre forward was very agile and often tried to get rid of Avevor and/or Knoll. Oftentimes, an effective method were diagonal balls from the half-spaces passed behind Park/Buballa, which opened up several good options for cross passes that were however not precise enough or were blocked. Thus, Bielefeld didn’t get any really compelling scoring chances in half-time one.
At the end of the first half, there was actually a phase in which also the FCSP was able to build-up flat when in ball possession. This was, if not highly pressed against, expected from Bielefeld playing in a 4-4-2 (flat). Thereby, it was noteworthy that the FCSP was given a lot of space and time in the half-spaces. However, the centre was – if at all – only allocated to Diamantakos.
Sadly, when our play reached its best moments, the whistle for the half-time set in, in which I moved from the top of the visitor stand (with a good view and an average mood) to the bottom of the stand (with lousy sight but the “melting pot” of the mood). However, what I was still able to witness were the higher positioned fullbacks of Bielefeld compared to the first half, who forced Miyaichi and Conteh to join the backline of four (and thus created a lot of space for second balls in the half-spaces). And in general, the relief in the match for the FCSP was missing. It doesn’t matter then, that you are well-positioned and defending in a disciplined way. If one attack follows the other without any breaks in between, it is completely logical that chances are created while wrong paths are taken and duels are lost. Considered as a whole, the 1-1 draw is completely well deserved.
For the season, it is of importance and desirable that Mats Møller-Dæhli and Finn Ole Becker stay fit and don’t get injured. Then, we will challenge every team of the second division with difficult to solve tasks in the centre. And if we are allowed to put in more wishes which we all should repeatedly ask for on a daily basis, we should add Diamantakos to this list. This guy is extremely unpleasant. If he would play for the opponents, I would know a lot of four-letter words for this dude. Consistently, he is committing offensive fouls par excellence, while jumping into the opponent at header shots even when there’s no chance to reach the ball. And he only does that in order to hinder the opponent to control the ball and thus he’s aiming to elicit chances for the second ball. Extremely strong.
Oh yeah, if they would all stay uninjured… I am already afraid of the club’s upcoming twitter news announcing that “Soundso had to stop the training and headed straightly to the hospital for further diagnostics…“, “…and stays injured until further notice due to some torn frontal ligaments “.
Anyway, as bitter as the 1-1 draw in the 90th minute was, it’s still a good result taken the recent happenings into account. For sure, there was not much of a difference compared to last season recognisable, but we should all resist judging before the next match on Friday. Against Fürth, we will certainly witness a completely different match of the FCSP and we will see what changed with regard to ball possession during the summer. I am thrilled as fuck and after yesterday, I am even a bit excited. And maybe, even my yet open heels are healed and I will be able to walk the stadium…
//Tim (translated by @Parneq)