The FC St. Pauli wins its seventh match of the season. Whoever saw the last scene of the match will certainly add the word “lucky”. Which it was as the match would have rather deserved a draw. And without any doubt, the match deserves to win a beauty pageant even though both coaches had troubles with the weak performance of the defences of their teams.
(Cover picture by Peter Boehmer)
Even though the home win against Darmstadt was beautiful and even though football, in general, is beautiful: There’s something more important and the FC St. Pauli and SV Darmstadt 98 set a clear mark:
There were no changes at the FC St. Pauli. In my pre-match report, I only speculated about a change in the central defense so that Tore Reginiussen would play against Serdar Dursun. But Timo Schultz preferred continuity and started with the same starting eleven for the third time.
At Darmstadt 98, there were two changes compared to the last match against Osnabrück: For the injured Herrmann and Clemens, Lars Lukas Mai and Tim Skarke were substituted. But manager Markus Anfang still stuck to a back four. Well, I expected something different.
It turned out to be some sort of 4-1-4-1, which Darmstadt aimed to play. However, this formation was performed with plenty of variations. Left wing-back Holland interpreted his flank as a bit more offensive than Mai on the other side. And Marvin Mehlem acted a bit deeper than Kempe. But if someone wants to describe it as a 4-2-3-1 or even a 3-3-3-1, I am fine with it, too.
The first half
Both teams did not allow much time for jaunty ball possession. The FC St. Pauli again applied the well-serving mean of man-to-man marking in the first row: Daniel-Kofi Kyereh consistently followed central defensive midfielder Nicolai Rapp, Marmoush and Burgstaller blocked the central defenders without attacking them.
The FC St. Pauli began rather awaiting on the flank in terms of pressing. In the last matches, when in ball possession, Zalazar and Becker consistently attacked the wing-backs (for example against Heidenheim). This wasn’t the case when the match started, however, it changed slightly during the course of the match. But when both eights did not attack, Marmoush and Burgstaller instead moved towards the wing-backs in order to block the pass option back to the central defender and thus enforcing the long pass.
For a very short moment, the pretty individual moving of Darmstadt’s wing-backs towards the centre when in ball possession appeared. (I took a note marked with a ! in minute 13:30). However, I could only witness it for one time only, for the rest of the time the back four were rather widely positioned.
The Lilies performed their pressing clearly more aggressively than the FCSP: The ball-distant wing-back of the FCSP was ignored when they pressed or was kept on a long lead by the opponent wing-back respectively. All the other defensive players were attacked with high speed.
When the match started, the FCSP showed a bit more pressing-resistance and could thus elicit one or the other dangerous situation. But the longer the first half got, the more overweight was elicited by Darmstadt 98. But from their more of ball possession, the Lilies couldn’t elicit any forcing chances.
That was different for the FCSP who could have taken the lead in the second minute already. But Burgstaller failed. But he then scored in a phase in which Darmstadt was clearly dominating the match. The 1-0 of the FCSP is almost a blueprint of what makes the team strong currently:
Through a high pressing (for the first time, I actually noted during the match that both eights pressed against Darmstadt’s wing-backs), the Lilies were forced to shot a long ball which was then received by Ziereis and passed to the goalie in a controlled manner. The goalie then passed to Lawrence, who then passed to Paqarada on the left (during the first half, this pass was then a trigger for Darmstadt to press again), who again passed back to Lawrence because he was pressed against. James then played the ball powerfully down the line to Zalazar, however, the pressing of Darmstadt still remained high. But Zalazar dribbled around his opponent and then ignited the turbo which allowed him to keep his pursuers at a distance. He played to Kyereh, who also “out-dribbled” two players of Darmstadt and then, almost 20m in front of the goal, passed to the free Becker. Becker then played a thoughtful pass into the box to Ohlsson, who was, for whatever reason, already awaiting the ball there (because he simply rushed to the fore after the dribbling of Zalazar ) and then played a pass from the right side which was actually too near to the goal of Darmstadt. SVD-goalie Schuhen could defend the ball, but only towards the thigh of Burgstaller who could then shot into the net from a distance of three metres only.
“ball wins because of well-timed pressing, pressing-resistance when building-up, strong dribbler, thoughtful passes even in the last third and forwards who are positioned where they belong.”
This describes the play of the FCSP currently pretty well.
The lead was conserved for the half-time break, even though Darmstadt was responding very strong straight after the leading goal. And even though I thought during the first half already that I witness a really good football match, it got even better in the second half.
But before we come to that I have again to devote my heart to Eric Smith. His performance as a central defending midfielder is so strong. He is exactly the physical player that the FCSP needs in this position. After four matches in the second division only, his score of won defensive duels is at 74% (with this value he is clearly the strongest duellist of the division on this position). Against Darmstadt, he won eight out of 11 duels. Additionally, there are many more clearings and interceptions (and this time also some very good things offensive-wise, but I’ll get to this later). This lad is so unprepossessing on the pitch but he’s doing so many good things.
The second half
With the starting whistle, the second half started exactly where the first one ended: Darmstadt 98 could elicit an overweight and became a lot more forceful now compared to the first half, especially through set-pieces but also because they could largely win the second balls. The match got fast. And exciting. I cannot analyse a clear tactical reason that caused the second balls to fall for Darmstadt now.
However, the FCSP had a huge chance for the second goal in the 57th minute after Eric Smith played an Uber-pass to Burgstaller which wrecked the pressing of Darmstadt entirely.
Despite this chance, Darmstadt remained to dominate the match and got the first big chance out of their own play in the 59th minute after a weak defensive performance of Ziereis. But as the first pass of Smit wasn’t turned into a goal, he simply played another magical pass and outplayed the Lilies’ defending line with a lob – 2:0.
But Darmstadt kept its foot on the throttle, played beautifully on the left side and scored just two minutes after the goal of the FCSP the 2-1. It was deserved from an objective perspective.
And just two minutes later, Ziereis completely lost sight of Dursun in his back who then could easily and freely score the 2-2 – Three goals in six minutes, for fucks sake!
The speed remained high, chance followed on chance. Again, just two minutes later, Marmoush and Kyereh got options to score after a set-piece (and I just realise that I totally forgot to mention the set-piece of Kempe against the bar).
But even bigger was the chance of Honsak, who failed to score after a one-to-one situation against Stojanovic, again just two minutes later.
What kind of football match was that between minutes 57 and 70?!
Timo Schultz couldn’t be fine with that. The pressure of Darmstadt was much too high. With the substitution of Tore Reginiussen he changed to a backline of three. Following that, the match could be calmed down which was clearly in favour of the FCSP. Stability was added through the backline of three, but also through Reginussen himself, as he could win all of his duels and also send a soothing calmness when in ball possession.
But the backline of three did not just add more defensive stability but also the beautiful side-effect that Reginiussen and Lawrence could think a bit more offensive on the outer flank of the backline. And while the offensive actions of Reginiussen were somehow promising but did not add anything to count, Lawrence was able to demonstrate his fine foot in the 82nd minute when he played a long ball to Burgstaller (the otherwise really, really strong Pálsson jumped underneath the ball). And Burgstaller did not take long to score the 3-2 for the FCSP. A lucky lead, even though the ten minutes before the goal had gotten more stable.
But this didn’t add any calmness. The Lilies were very strong throughout the entire 90 minutes, but too often failed to assert themselves when things got serious. With more than 73% of won defensive duels (the highest value of the season), the FCSP was definitely stable and allowed not much to the offensive strong Lilies straight out of the game (apart from the phase between the 58th and 70th minute).
But more danger was caused by the set-pieces of Darmstadt. The so-far clearly existing strength of the FCSP against set-pieces of the opponents was massively challenged by Darmstadt. And this danger got bigger with every added minute. An appetizer was already offered by the shot against the bar of Kempe in the 47th minute and the header of Höhn after a corner ball in the 53rd.
In the 86th minute it was Dursun, who hit the bar with a header after a free-kick and the ball then just dropped one metre in front of the goal-line. The rebound could only be defended barely. And it got even a little more bare, which was actually a well-fitting end for a match which did not leave much time for respite, in the 94th minute when Ohlsson at first while standing and then while sitting defended on the line before Höhn then shot a ball which was slightly touched by Stojanović against the bar – for the third time in the match.
So, the FC St. Pauli wins a thrilling match against Darmstadt somewhat lucky and thus earns its seventh win of the season. Both teams confirmed what their statistics predicted: strong in the front, weak at the back. The xG-values are thereby – depending on the provider – varying largely (Wyscout: 2.9-2.8 – Fivethirtyeight: 2.9-2.2 – 11tegen11: 2.1-2.8 (they also split their results beautifully according to the match situation: out of the play or after a set-piece)).
The “Passmaps“ of 11tegen11 impressively show the imbalance of the play of both teams with a focus to the left side and thus the importance of Paqarada and Zalazar as a connector. But they also show the progressiveness of Becker.
After I called the goals of Guido Burgstaller in a lovely manner “ugly” (which he confirmed again with his first goal against Darmstadt), what followed was a dream-goal against Nuremberg. After I blamed him to only be able to score one goal per match, he now scored twice. This caused me to make a high-pitched and loud “Guido!” just in the manner that others show for a different Guido (the one who accompanies shopping tours in the German television show). Is there anything this guy isn’t capable of? I tell you something and I further trigger it: He cannot become town-champion.
Keep on pushing to the front!
// Tim (Translated by Arne)
(all statistics sourced from Wyscout)