No question, yes, definitely: there is hardly anything more unnecessary in professional football than international match breaks. A not inconsiderable part of this dislike is always contributed when FC St. Pauli is in good form and they are held back by such a break. So, in my search for the culprits for the defeat in Hannover, I pinpointed the international break. It took away FCSP’s good form, once again, I would like to think! But is that really the case? It’s time for some confused statistics again.
(Cover picture: Peter Böhmer)
The calculation is simple: Before the international break, FC St. Pauli showed a really exhilarating game against Regensburg and after the break, it was the rather anaemic performance in Hannover. So did the international break take the wind out of the sails? And is this a recurring problem? Let’s take a look at the facts:
The balance of the last 14 international breaks shows that it is not that simple (a pity actually). Because the combination “win before/lose after” occurred for the first time at least during the last 14 international breaks (I didn’t look any further because I became more and more aware of the futility of this activity).
The last break in March 2021 did not interrupt FCSP’s winning streak (before that: win at Osnabrück; after that: win against Braunschweig). It was different in November 2020, when they lost beforehand against KSC and afterwards in Paderborn. In defence of the sentiment “international breaks destroy FC St. Pauli” (which I would have loved to have taken as a title), it should be said that the break in November 2020 caused quite a clear break in the culture of the game. Against KSC, as in the games before, FCSP showed an appealing performance, while after that, as is well known, things went steeply downhill. In October 2020, however, there was even an improvement: FCSP lost at Sandhausen, the international break came and then they picked up a point at home against Nuremberg.
Before that, there was no international break for a long time due to Corona. The last one was in November 2019, when FC St. Pauli got a point against Bochum and then lost at Aue after the international break. So it’s true, FC St. Pauli picked up fewer points after the international break than before. But would that have been the case if we had played in Aue before? That is, where we always got our asses kicked until pre-season? Mmh, so it doesn’t seem that everything can be related to the break itself.
But of course, you shouldn’t just reduce it to the results either. Because in October 2019, FCSP picked up a point against Nuremberg before the international break. This point was the sixth match in a row that was not lost (3 wins, 3 draws). This was followed by a defeat against Darmstadt after the break. That was the start of a series of seven winless games (3 draws, 4 defeats). So is there a connection after all?
A look into the even deeper past shows that it is only a feeling. In March 2019, there were two bitter 0:4 defeats (one at Sandhausen) and then, after the international break, they picked up a point against Duisburg.
In the four breaks before that, the results before and after the international break were identical: two draws in November 2018, two wins in October 2018, two defeats in September 2018. No, there is no trend to be seen in the data, not at all. Significant here are the international breaks in March 2018 and October 2017, when FC St. Pauli first played 1-1 against Kaiserslautern both times, followed by a 1-1 draw against SV Sandhausen after the break in each case. A connection between international breaks and the performance of FC St. Pauli is not discernible.
The record of the last 14 matches reads accordingly: Before the international breaks, FC St. Pauli won 4x, drew 5x and lost 5x. After the international breaks, there were three wins, six draws and four defeats. No trend to be seen.
But where does the feeling come from that international breaks always seem to take away our form? After all, I’m not the only person who has expressed this feeling several times. I have an idea:
International matches have taken place in fairly rigid corridors for years. There is a phase at the end of March, then in the summer during the tournaments, a phase at the beginning of September, one in mid-October and one at the end of November. Especially the last three set-aside periods fall in phases in which FC St. Pauli has not really played well for years. I could now calculate point averages for the individual months, but I can also simply refer to this article. It shows that for years there has been a strange blues around the Millerntor in autumn. This probably creates the feeling that there is somehow a connection with the international breaks.
I still can’t stand international breaks. Even when they’re no good as kryptonite for FCSP. Actually, I like them even less now that I can’t even blame them for FC St. Pauli’s defeats.
//Tim (translation by Arne)