It was a thrilling 106th city derby, which FC St. Pauli won 3:2. It was deserved, above all, with an outstanding first half and a cooked-up second half. Hamburger SV, on the other hand, showed respectable positional play, but seemed to have confused themselves rather than their opponents and remained ineffective despite having a lot of possession. In the analysis, we take a closer look at the concepts and their effects.
(Cover picture: Peter Böhmer)
Before the game, I wondered who would play next to Guido Burgstaller. In the end, Simon Makienok was in the starting eleven next to Burgstaller. Would he have done the same if Maximilian Dittgen had been available? That’s not the question, because we probably won’t know. And in retrospect, the decision was spot on and I confessed my love to Simon drunk with joy (in this way I send Maximilian Dittgen and his family my heartfelt congratulations on the birth of their second daughter!).
In addition to the question of who would play in attack, I had also considered in the preliminary report whether FC St. Pauli would react to HSV’s high tempo and had already noted there that it could be tight for Rico Benatelli with a starting eleven. Marcel Hartel made his debut in the starting eleven just a few days after his signing and replaced Rico Benatelli on the left half of the diamond.
Hamburger SV changed their starting eleven in two positions compared to the successful but rather unconvincing 2-1 victory in the first cup round in Braunschweig: Bakery Jatta replaced Manuel Wintzheimer in the attack and, as expected, the recovered Jonas Meffert replaced Maximilian Rohr in the six-position. Compared to the Braunschweig game, the formation changed little at the start of the game: Sonny Kittel moved from the ten to the outside position, resulting in a 4-3-3 instead of a 4-4-2 with a diamond (which, however, only gives a very rough orientation in view of the massive positional changes).
Build-up play of the HSV – All for Jatta?
Feedback on my activity at the AFM radio mike during the match: “Why do you keep saying ‘beautiful’ when HSV has the ball?” – Oops. But let’s be honest, what HSV showed in terms of flexibility in their own back rows I thought was pretty impressive. To be honest, I’ve never seen anything like it. In the build-up to the game, HSV arranged themselves in a back four, but who exactly was to be found where and when in the back four was completely flexible. Especially Jan Gyamerah and Sebastian Schonlau left their positions over and over again, young Jonas David did it more subdued. Ludovit Reis and sometimes even Sonny Kittel constantly alternated with Tim Leibold on the left-back position. My goodness, there was something going on!
With this enormous rotation, HSV managed to form quite respectable triangles again and again. However, these were mostly limited to zones that were not dangerous for FCSP. There was a bit of order in this chaos, though: While HSV happily rotated on the left, Kinsombi on the right was always more towards the top (or tried to create a vertical connection on the far outside for Jatta) and Gyamerah almost always left his position towards the centre. The aim: to create space for Bakery Jatta by shifting the play almost completely to the left to find him with a diagonal pass. In the first half, these deep runs by Jatta were in fact HSV’s only dangerous actions. They were also rare because Leart Paqarada showed that he can not only develop a lot offensively but is also simply a brutally good defender (10 intercepted passes, 8 out of 10 duels won). Just releasing Jatta was not the plan, of course. But all the rotations, which are not without risk, as FCSP has relentlessly shown the whole chaos, it only ensured that Jatta could break through to the baseline with the ball three times in the first half (I counted it again in the re-live). Apart from that, HSV’s positional chaos was the order of the day. But not for FC St. Pauli, but in their own ranks.
Pressing FC St. Pauli – Courageous and in space
In the meantime, the breaking up of positions in the HSV back line (mainly after their own passes, which the players, I can’t put it any other way, “ran after”) meant that the FCSP strikers were closer to the HSV goal than all the HSV players. For FCSP took note of the breaking up of positions and did not seem surprised by it, but Makienok and Burgstaller simply stayed in space and did not follow the paths of the HSV centre-backs. There was no proper protection in HSV’s play, so that a misplaced pass in such a situation would have led to sure-fire moments in the HSV penalty area. What a game of fire from HSV! It borders on a miracle that FC St. Pauli could not punish this so directly even once (they punished other chaotic conditions for it). I write this out explicitly because this kind of positional play is one of the most radical elements of Walter football and I assume that it is precisely this element that will cause neck-breaks against smart teams. The enormous playing quality of e.g. Schonlau ensures that it usually goes well, but it certainly won’t over the whole season.
FC St. Pauli thus concentrated their pressing on the two centre-backs with their two strikers. Jonas Meffert must have remembered his last appearance at the Millerntor with some horror. The HSV six was the only player on the pitch who was marked man-to-man for almost the entire match. And that was by Daniel-Kofi Kyereh.
The two eights, Hartel and Becker, ran at the opposing full-backs or the players who were currently in position there when they received the ball. This is worth mentioning as it was a departure from the pressing behaviour of the last game in Magdeburg, back to the principle practised before. If HSV played into the half-https://millernton.de/2021/08/09/1-fc-magdeburg-fc-st-pauli-23-rautendaemmerung/areas in the build-up, it was Eric Smith who attacked there and thus served as a kind of protection for the two eights in the pressing. He was able to do this because he was in the centre of the defence without a mission or opponent.
Why didn’t the HSV build-up work?
That is the game-changing question. Because by breaking up the individual positions and positioning the FCSP players in space, HSV actually fulfilled all the criteria to create outnumbering situations in some zones on the pitch. But FC St. Pauli occupied the spaces very well and was always able to prevent HSV from being outnumbered when it became important. On the other hand, it seemed as if HSV simply lost the overview and did not even recognise the sometimes overloaded spaces as such due to the many different movements. Thus, HSV’s positional play was beautiful to watch, but above all ineffective. It was like a war dance of a tyre pump: In the safe harbour they puffed themselves up and then, when things got really serious, all the air escaped with the quiet sound of a submissive dog.
FC St. Pauli, on the other hand, acted much more structured and purposeful in their own possession: As soon as the ball reached their own fullbacks in the build-up to the game, Kyereh mostly dropped from the centre of attack to the ten position (sometimes with, mostly without Burgstaller, who was more oriented towards the outer track). It was precisely into this space, which was somewhat orphaned due to the positioning of the HSV pressing, that the outside defenders often played the balls in diagonally. Luca Zander played such a pass to Kyereh seven times in the first half alone (this was thus the most frequent passing path at FCSP behind Ziereis to Zander). Only the very first one did not arrive.
This was a simple but quite effective opening, as the pressing of HSV was thus consistently bypassed and FCSP nevertheless remained in possession of the ball most of the time. As a result, the two eights moved up. Marcel Hartel, who was able to contribute remarkably well to the game despite little team training, stayed more in the half-space for 2nd balls (by the way, he intercepted an absolutely outstanding nine passes for an eighth in this game and won seven out of ten defensive duels). When Burgstaller moved to the outside, Becker advanced to the centre of the attack.
FC St. Pauli’s good distribution of space, together with HSV’s poor distribution of space in defensive transition moments, led to many dangerous situations in the first half. Exemplary is the first goal for FCSP: It was Jan Gyamerah who played the decisive role. First, a wrong throw-in by him was rightly whistled off (should have happened with his previous throw-ins), HSV was able to win the ball back, Gyamerah broke up his position in the build-up, HSV lost the ball, Ziereis played a quick pass exactly into the space at the right back, where Gyamerah was supposed to be in possession of the ball, Burgstaller and Hartel Kyereh skilfully played out the superior number, Becker moved in – Boom!
This lead was highly deserved at that point. In the first half, HSV had no offensive action worth mentioning except for one chance after Jatta’s break-through and cross pass (which Kinsombi cleared cleanly before Glatzel was ready to shoot…). FC St. Pauli, on the other hand, knew how to use the space to their advantage, especially in transition moments, and had eleven shots on goal by half-time (HSV: two). Especially the phase between the 16th and 30th minute was outstanding. Especially because FCSP won many balls in HSV’s final third: A whole eight of a total of 19 ball losses in their own third happened to HSV in this part of the game. FC St. Pauli lost only three duels defensively in this phase, only once the ball in their own final third and brought all(!) 25 space-bringing passes to their teammates.
But despite this rather raucous first half, FC St. Pauli went into the half-time break with a draw. Because Meffert was once not guarded closely enough by chain dog Kyereh, HSV was able to play centrally over the chain and send Jatta deep on the right. The 1:1 was very flattering from HSV’s point of view.
More pressure, but where is Gyamerah?
After the half-time break, HSV changed their formation slightly: Sonny Kittel now played from a central position and Ludovit Reis was now more to be found in the half position and no longer at left back in the build-up. This, together with FCSP’s now somewhat less gripping pressing, resulted in significantly more pressure from HSV. This was also due to the fact that Eric Smith now had to do more work in the centre. Immediately after the restart, it was a cross from the left baseline (by right-back(!) Gyamerah) that brought the first danger. And yes, sorry, but I also see a contact between Medić and Jatta that should have led to a penalty.
But it was precisely in the supposedly strongest phase of HSV that FC St. Pauli put their weaknesses under the magnifying glass: At 2:1 Makienok moved to the left side, where Gyamerah was missing so that Makienok was able to dribble almost to the five-corner without any pressure from the opponent (which was certainly not planned that way by centre-back David). The goal should be largely blamed on goalkeeper Heuer Fernandes. His regular place is endangered in any case, as a new goalkeeper was recently signed in Marko Johansson.
However, only a short time after regaining the lead, Jakov Medić first won the ball, then walked through the HSV half without pressure and then played a pass to Makienok. Makienok had moved slightly to the left, as there was space there because a certain Jan Gyamerah was once again on the loose. 3:1 for FC St. Pauli!
All three goals came because parts of the HSV defence were not where they belonged. The handsome positional rochades that were supposed to confuse FC St. Pauli, which was supposed to provide superiority in certain zones – they ultimately ensured that FCSP were able to score those three goals. That sounds fatally bad from HSV and it is, although FCSP also just played it really well.
The game was clearly broken up by the 3:1 and took a time-out. The advantages of HSV’s playing system then ensured that the game became exciting again at the end. It was central defender Sebastian Schonlau who crossed from the left baseline into the centre, where Robert Glatzel processed the ball and put it into the FCSP goal. Suhonen was another creative substitute, while FC St. Pauli had to replace the struggling Smith and could not bring in the necessary counterattacking player because there was no striker left in the squad.
As a result, however, it became clear that FC St. Pauli can also defend a lead. Less than a year ago, an opposing goal was already the death knell for a possible three points. No matter how well and superior FCSP played beforehand, their legs immediately became jelly. Those times seem to be over if you look at the minutes until the final whistle in this derby.
So FC St. Pauli wins the town’s championship again. Thanks to an enormous willingness to run, a good division of space and confidence in their own abilities and system. This game not only made derby history, it also makes you want more from this team. The start of the season has definitely been successful with three wins from four games. The stability in difficult phases is impressive. The offensive power as well. It’s great fun to follow the development of the team and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.
//Tim (translated by Arne)
(Unless otherwise marked, all statistics are from Wyscout)