FC St. Pauli – 1. FC Heidenheim 4-2 (Part 2): Efficiency is the laziness of the smart

What a start into the season at home! It’s been a long time that the Millerntor did see four goals for the FCSP. The result, especially the 4-0 lead in between, might sound as this was a dominant matter. But it wasn’t. In fact, the FCSP can say thank you to its own efficiency. Nevertheless, there was again a lot of great things to witness on the pitch while there were also some construction sites remaining.
(This article does “only” deal with football. all the 
other things can be found in Maik’s article.)

No Daschner, no Buballa, no backline of three.
In my pre-match article I expected Lukas Daschner and Daniel Buballa as members of the starting line-up. However, both were missing. Daniel Buballa had to take rain check due to a slight injury he acquired in the match against Bochum (this was at least what Timo Schultz announced in the post-match press conference). On the offensive half position, which I did assign to Lukas Daschner, surprisingly Rodrigo Zalazar made his appearance (who did not convince me on this position, which he doesn’t need to as he’s supposed to win matches instead, which he did…), while Benatelli and Knoll both played as central defensive midfielders.
While I was naming this formation as backline of three, I have to rectify myself and call the formation of the FCSP a classical 4-4-2 against the ball instead, however, still with some characteristics of a backline of five as Dittgen and Paqarada on the left were more often interpreting their role more offensive than Wieckhoff and Ohlsson on the other side.

Transition follows on transition, follows on transition, follows on transition…
I also mentioned in the pre-match article that both teams are playing vertically to the front as quick as possible whenever they gain the ball. Thereby, both teams willingly accepted that they might lose the ball as soon as it was gained. I took my time to watch the match re-live and I noted that the first shot on the goal which followed on the controlled built-up play of both teams happened in the 55th (!!!) minute only. Which also means that the other 10 shots on the goal from Heidenheim and the three goals of the FCSP before all resulted of other match situations (transition plays, second balls, set-pieces). This is, however, remarkable for a match in which both teams focused on their own transition play but it was due to the fact that both teams actually managed to disturb their respective opponent’s build-up play or that there’s still room for improvement for their own built-up. In general, from my perspective, it was the FCSP which played a better built-up, which, however, never resulted in a shot on the goal. So let’s have a more precise look at the built-up of both teams:

Built-up of the Heidenheim 1st half
The 1st FC Heidenheim definitely had more ball possession at the end of the match (almost 63%). This could indicate some sort of dominance in the match which actually was true for some time. However, for most of the time, this was just the result of the rather late beginning of the FCSP’s pressings.
Whenever Heidenheim was in ball possession, there was a bit of a change to their original 4-4-2 formation: The wing-backs (Föhrenbach on the left and the very strong Busch on the right) moved to the front. Both offensive midfielders Pick and Schnatterer then dropped more to the back (of course, Schnatterer was playing from the beginning although I announced that he rather played a subordinate role in Heidenheim recently, however, in general, his performance remained rather pale.). Additionally, Kerschbaumer left his position in the central midfield and positioned himself left to both central defenders so that a backline of three resulted for built-up (which actually allowed that both wing-backs could move to the front that far). The perfect version of Kerschbaumer’s positioning play was actually performed to its best by a certain Toni Kroos.
The FCSP defended with a  4-4-2 against this built-up. Thereby, Zalazar and Kyereh both marked central defender Geipl which resulted in him being taken out of the play effectively. The most complex roles had to be played by Dittgen and Wieckhoff, as they had to run against the dropping Pick and Schnatterer. Apart from that, the 4-4-2 of the FCSP resisted steadily against the built-up of Heidenheim. The FCH could only become very dangerous when they managed to free up Geipl in the centre to develop momentum. So for the whole first half, there was a lot of ball possession for Heidenheim, however, with only little earnings. This is probably why they changed their formation in the second half (I’ll pick up on that later). 

The built-up play of the 1st FC Heidenheim gained attraction particularly because of the strong positioning play on the flanks.

Built-up  FCSP
Despite a much higher pressing of Heidenheim, risking more than the FCSP itself, in general, the FCSP played a couraged flat built-up again. Thereby, Rico Benatelli was one of the initial players who sometimes even dropped between the two central defenders. The far movements of the wing-backs, which had been pivotal for the built-up of the pre-season, wasn’t used any longer. Instead, Dittgen and rarely even Wieckhoff were moving to the front line from where they only dropped back occasionally.
And again, the imbalance of the FCSP-play became obvious: While Jannes Wieckhoff was only rarely seen in the very front line and thus Ohlsson wasn’t moving any higher, too, Dittgen was doing exactly this more often so that Leart Paqarada could make use of the space in front of him. This lead to the fact that Paqarada and Wieckhoff acted on the same height although they were technically playing on different positions (which made me analyse a backline of three with wing-backs).
I already mentioned that I considered the built-up of the FCSP as a little bit better. This was first and foremost due to the fact that during the first half, the play was beautifully developed via the right flank. An in such situations it also became obvious why Wieckhoff wasn’t moving up that high: He still needed space in front of himself to make use of his speed. Already the first successful situation of the built-up play was thereby getting dangerous when Ohlsson (who is never playing strikingly but also barely making any mistakes and thus of enormous importance for the whole play of the FCSP) together with Kyereh (“Play via the third”) managed to free up Wieckhoff on the right side.
The only question remaining is why they don’t play the same on the left where Dittgen is also a player with enormous speed. Instead, he moved to the very front line more often from where he dropped back to act as a wall player. Which is absolutely okay as Leart Paqarada feels a much stronger offensive urge than Seb Ohlsson on the opposite side. Additionally, with Marnon Busch there was a much more physical opponent on this site. Thus, it’s rather (very) likely that there will be much more initiated from the left side in future matches than yesterday.

Built-up play of the FCSP with a clear imbalance between the right and the left side.

Ball gain, set-piece, second ball, throw-in
But as already mentioned in the introduction, the goals of the match did not result from an ordered built-up but rather from different situations:
At the 1-0, it took less than seven seconds from the moment when the ball left the fingers of Jonas Föhrenbach until it reached the goal net. Through a consistent man-to-man-marking, the FCSP enforced the ball gain after a throw-in of Heidenheim and with their first shot on the goal they took the lead.
The 2-0 resulted from a set-piece which development must have outraged FCH-coach Frank Schmidt particularly. Because fouls close to the corner flag are pretty unnecessary (as there’s only little danger caused from there) and they offer the opponent team a much better angle for a set-piece than a corner ball.
The 3-0 can be seen as a textbook example for situations with the second ball. And the 4-0  has to be discussed on its own. Or we simply enjoy it as it again became obvious in matches under Timo Schultz that there seems to be much more of an idea about how to make use of own throw-ins than in the previous years. I personally think that Marvin Knoll did not just kick the ball to the front without any idea (however, due to the angle of the camera, I cannot confirm it entirely).

A change of formation caused dominance (Built-up of Heidenheim, second half)
However, one of the two teams became really dominant only after the match might have already received the label “result-wise decided”. Because shortly after Wieckhoff scored the third goal in a very notable manner, a change of the built-up of Heidenheim became obvious. Both wing-backs were no longer completely moving to the front. Instead, most of the time it was Kerschbaumer who moved up centrally while his central defensive midfielder, Andreas Geipl, dropped between the central defenders when building-up.
Through this change, the 1. FC Heidenheim won the offensive half-spaces. Often it was then either the wing-backs entering from there who could cross directly or diagonal passes were hit to the other side. But also through the centre, Heidenheim was able to elicit chances which I mostly assign to the tremendously strong Christian Kühlwetter (who was substituted in the second half) who was moving smartly between  Knoll/Benatelli and Avevor/Ziereis. No matter which way was chosen for the built-up, it caused that Heidenheim was clearly dominating the match between the 55. and 70. minute and that they managed to create some very promising chances during this time.
Especially to cover the half-spaces was from my perspective already an issue during the first half against the VfL Bochum and a starting point for some attacks. It’s possible that the FCSP leaves this space deliberately here to close it at another point later. But if they do not manage to get into promising transition play moments (as happened yesterday) any longer, it will not work out in the long course.

4-0 – A really dangerous result
And what’s the best answer to an opponent constricting? Right, simply score the 4-0 to supposedly close the match. With the fourth goal in the 70th minute, the match appeared definitely decided. But Ewald Lienen did probably have mumbled the above-mentioned words and it was in fact actually only for a very short time detectable that the FCH was no longer believing in miracles.
Instead, two goals of Heidenheim in the 78th and 80th minute caused some more excitement. Both goals resulted due to improvable coordination of the FCSP centre (here’s definitely some work with certain individual players necessary). But while everyone was expecting a final offensive of Heidenheim now, the time simply passed by and nothing more was happening. This is again unfamiliar as we all know a completely different FCSP in such moments which used to be much more shivering.

Efficiency scores against ball possession
So it was the already announced intensive match in which there was almost no time to rest for any of both teams. Hereby, the running distances of both teams are outstandingly remarkable (usually, I do not care very much about this kind of data lacking sprints but this time, they are worth to be mentioned). With roughly 125km (data of kicker on Sunday evening, they’re usually adjusted later), the FCSP did, however, only barely run more than Heidenheim (124km) but remarkably more than all other clubs of the division which played until then on this matchday. Remarkable.
So, the FCSP wins against 1. FC Heidenheim because of enormously high efficiency. Heidenheim-goalie Kevin Müller did get four shots on his goal, three went in. even better: with three own shots on the goal the FCSP managed to create a 4-0 lead. Try to copy that.
I don’t want to write badly here, it’s not meant to be like that at all. Because first, you have to act against Heidenheim in a way that only allows them to create a worth mentioning chance in the 55th minute only and before that did only manage to play one ball into the dangerous space for the FCSP. This is also reflected in the quality of the goal chances (xG-values are 1.4 to 1.1 for FCSP). Of course, the 1st FC Heidenheim had more of the game and was especially after the change of formation in the second half the dominating team. But there is also the question of which zones are deliberately given away as a team so that other areas of the pitch are covered sensibly. And exactly that was managed pretty well by the FCSP against the strong-as-usual team of Heidenheim (besides the chance in the 10th minute of Schnatterer). Only in the 2nd half did the game clearly shift in favour of the Heidenheim team. But the result was already 3-0 then…

A successful start to the season is what we call that. And I am quite happy about that!

// Tim (Translated by Arne)

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