FC St. Pauli lost in the last home match of the season against Hannover 96 not undeservedly with 1:2. Although the performance was appealing against an opponent who was not outstanding either, Hannover 96 was the better team in the decisive moments on the pitch. Despite all the efforts, all those involved in yesterday’s match could not disguise the fact that this game was about rather little. On the FC St. Pauli side, however, they were all the more pleased about the return of two long-term injuries. This joy, however, gave way to the realisation that for some of the players, it might have been their last appearance at the Millerntor.
(Cover picture: imago images/via OneFootball)
FC St. Pauli started in a new look and with changes in several positions: In goal, Dennis Smarsch celebrated his first competitive match for FC St. Pauli. In midfield, Christian Viet was allowed to start instead of Finn Ole Becker (he started on the half-left position so that Rodrigo Zalazar moved to the right side). Maximilian Dittgen replaced Omar Marmoush in the starting eleven.
Personally, I could have sworn that Lukas Daschner would also start and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh would move up a position. But we’ll probably see that in the next game. I actually expected FC St. Pauli in a 3-5-2, because the first leg had shown that there are some problems against teams that mirror their formation. There were problems, but it wasn’t because of the formation.
A little later in the season than FC St. Pauli, Hannover 96 has also found its way to the midfield diamond in terms of formation. Since matchday 30 against Jahn Regensburg, the team of outgoing coach Kenan Kocakhas relied on such a 4-4-2.
Since both teams started with a diamond in midfield, the allocation in the centre was also quite clear. Thus, red-white pairs happily moved across the pitch when one of the two teams was looking for an orderly build-up of play. Only the wing-backs of both teams had a little more space.
Blocked centre, little movement
The graphic above shows quite clearly where there was the least space on the pitch: Due to the mirroring of the diamond, the allocation in midfield was so clear that both teams needed some initiative to gain an advantage in this area of the pitch. FC St. Pauli actually managed this a little better than Hannover 96, which was also due to FCSP’s more aggressive approach.
This optical superiority resulted in more possession and more control of the game, but no clear chances. Especially at the beginning of the game, FC St. Pauli showed a weakness that led to massive problems in the first half of the season: When things got tricky offensively or defensively, the important duels were lost, the passes were played inaccurately and the running routes and passes were no longer suitable. In the first 25 minutes, FCSP had a share of the game (>65% possession), but Hannover 96 had clear chances. And what chances! In the eighth minute, Weydandt could have scored twice, but hit the post and then not the goal. The 13th minute was emblematic of FCSP’s inaccuracies, when Ducksch moved right between the centre-back and the wing-back and the allocation on FCSP’s side seemed unclear, Dennis Smarsch rushed out in time to get to the ball before Ducksch, but the clearance was completely unsuccessful. As a result, Ducksch was able to head into the empty goal. A truly unfortunate start, especially for Smarsch.
Hannover 96 also had the next clear chance: Genki Haraguchi missed with a relatively free header. He had done much better in the first leg when he scored twice. Anyway, I had to conclude once again that Haraguchi is one of the best kickers in the division and I wonder if I have this view exclusively.
I am certainly not the only one to think that FC St. Pauli was the better team from around the 20th minute until the end of the first half. In the build-up, Rico Benatelli increasingly dropped between the two centre-backs to escape Haraguchi’s close guard. Zalazar and Viet tried to create movement in the otherwise rigid centre by changing positions. FCSP were now able to keep the ball more often in the half-areas and a large number of crosses now found their way into the centre. However, Dittgen (35th) and Burgstaller (39th) were unable to convert the resulting chances.
In the second half, FC St. Pauli also came out of the dressing room with the better play. But it was still mostly over in front of the box, as there was a lack of coordination and accuracy, while Hannover seemed a bit more compelling in the decisive moments. And while I was still annoyed that Kyereh didn’t score the goal of the month with his overhead kick, a cross from Niklas Hult in the 59th minute became longer and longer, so that it finally found its way into the goal at the second post. Another curious goal for FC St. Pauli – 0:2.
The second goal had put an end to the already rather poor game for the time being. FC St. Pauli then called for the return of Christopher Buchtmann, who replaced Viet at his position but made a rather unimpressive appearance (which is, of course, perfectly acceptable due to the long break). Hannover 96 created the most chances, and it was not until Guido Burgstaller scored a somewhat surprising goal in the 70th minute that there was a sense of a new dawn.
But neither the substitute Lukas Daschner nor Ryō Miyaichi, who was also celebrating his comeback, were able to exert any real pressure. With the justified traffic light card for James Lawrence in the 80th minute, it was finally the end of the FC St. Pauli’s efforts (unfortunately also for the fouled Marvin Ducksch – get well soon!). The game was heading towards the final whistle and it could have been a 1-3 rather than an equaliser.
Of course, that’s a bit bold, but the game clearly showed that FC St. Pauli seems to be out of steam (as is also the case with this match report). The team showed some good elements against Kiel as well as against Hannover, but the big bite when it comes to the decisive moments is currently missing.
That is annoying. I hate defeats. But if you take into account where the team has come from and the path it has taken since mid-January, then that’s allowed to happen. The important thing is that this drop in pressure doesn’t remain a permanent phenomenon. We have seen that far too often in recent years.
Accordingly, on the last matchday in Regensburg, for whom there is still a lot at stake, it is important to end the season on a positive note and to take the famous momentum with us into the new season. In Regensburg, there will certainly be a few changes in personnel and formation.
In any case, there should be some changes in squad planning in the next few days. As painful as it is, the defeat against Hannover will have been the last appearance at the Millerntor for some of the players in the current squad. What a shitty farewell. Once again, my heart bleeds that we weren’t allowed to be in the stadium. Once again, I’m looking forward to the end of the season and I sincerely hope that we’ll have completely different opportunities at the beginning of next season and that we’ll be able to give one or two players a proper send-off.
//Tim (translated by Arne)