That’s how you get prom… to win in Heidenheim!

That’s how you get prom… to win in Heidenheim!

FC St. Pauli wins in impressive style at 1. FC Heidenheim. After a weak first half, in which Heidenheim were particularly impressive defensively, FC St. Pauli dismantled their opponents shortly after half-time thanks to an increase in performance. After this game and in this form, FC St. Pauli can be expected to do anything this season.
(Cover picture: imago images/via OneFootball)

The line-up

As expected, there were no changes in the starting eleven at FC St. Pauli. I had suspected in the preliminary report that there might be a starting eleven for Becker or Dittgen, if at all. But that was not the case. Timo Schultz relied on the same starting eleven as he had against Dresden before the international break.

At 1. FC Heidenheim, on the other hand, there were several changes: Top attacker Tim Kleindienst was slightly injured and only came on in the 2nd half. Stefan Schimmer started in his place. Denis Thomalla and Robert Leipertz also had to leave the starting eleven compared to the 0-3 against Werder Bremen. Kevin Sessa and Dženis Burnić came in for them.
In addition, coach Frank Schmidt fielded his team differently than usual. Did I claim in the pre-match report that the defensive back four is the only constant in Schmidt’s idea of the game? Ha, you can see how little I know about such things. 1. FC Heidenheim started in a 3-5-2.

Unusual: conceding an early goal

It didn’t take long to realise what makes 1. FC Heidenheim such an unpleasant opponent: From the first minute on, there was a lot of noise on the pitch. FC St. Pauli had little or no time to make decisions at the beginning. Heidenheim pressed high, was very well-coordinated and with a lot of speed.

And the 3-5-2 of Heidenheim paid off directly: Frank Schmidt’s team was able to press high without being defensively outnumbered. When FC St. Pauli had possession at the back, the two wing-backs pushed out to the FCSP wing-backs (but only when the ball was on their side). Of the two eights, Sessa and Burnić, one shifted to Aremu and one to the half-back position, depending on which side the ball was on. The two strikers went up to the centre-backs.
With this concept and a lot of steam, Heidenheim was able to put FC St. Pauli under pressure in the build-up to the game. If that didn’t work, there were still four defensive players against the offensive triangle consisting of Buchtmann, Kyereh and Burgstaller. The superior number was possible because Heidenheim did not guard the FCSP full-back who was far from the ball. FC St. Pauli would have always had the option to come out of the pressing in a controlled manner via a quick transition. But do that when a team presses so well against you.

Pressing situation before the early goal for Heidenheim – The far side of the ball is neglected by Heidenheim. therefore, the players can aggressively go for it without being completely blank defensively.

How well this worked was already evident in the 3rd minute: Medić played Paqarada on the left, who was immediately tackled aggressively by Marnon Busch and lost the duel. Via Schimmer, the ball went into the centre, where Vasilj was unfortunate to defend into the centre and Mohr, who had come in from the left, was able to push the ball into the orphaned goal.

This was the first time this season that FC St. Pauli conceded a goal within the first 30 minutes, i.e. in a phase of the game in which FCSP usually always had the upper hand.

Another realisation: game control is not equal to superiority

This dominance in the early stages, which has characterised FC St. Pauli recently, was not present against Heidenheim. The early lead was, of course, pure gold for the Heidenheim game. They subsequently pulled back and left FC St. Pauli space in their own half. However, the large amount of possession was more of a danger for FC St. Pauli than a source of good situations. Heidenheim knew how to control the space in their own half and win the balls there, where it was most dangerous for FC St. Pauli: Again and again, the noose tightened in the half spaces and from this position Heidenheim could switch quickly. However, FC St. Pauli often fell into this trap. It was far too seldom possible to get behind the two wing defenders on the outside.

Especially in the first half, it became clear why Heidenheim is considered one of the best defensive teams in the division. Especially when this team has to move out of its positions very little, it is enormously difficult to create chances. Timo Schultz emphasised at the pre-match press conference that it is important to lure Heidenheim out of their positions and get them moving. FC St. Pauli then experienced first-hand how difficult that is in the first half.
Personally, I was a bit surprised that Heidenheim stood so deep after the early lead. Because the high pressing at the beginning was quite successful and could have possibly brought even more success. Of course, that is more running-intensive than standing deep. But this gave FC St. Pauli the opportunity to “play their way free”, as Timo Schultz called it after the game.

With the 3-5-2, Heidenheim reacted quite well to FC St. Pauli’s starting behaviour. With three centre-backs and two full-backs on the pitch, they could have created an advantage in the build-up against FCSP’s usual run-up behaviour. Burgstaller and Kyereh would have had three players against them. And when you’re outnumbered, you can rarely develop pressure in pressing. Christopher Buchtmann played a central role in the truest sense of the word. Every now and then, he broke free from his ten-man position and ran at the central defender. This allowed Burgstaller and Kyereh to push to the outside full-backs. The wing defenders Mohr and Busch were, as usual, initially run into from the FCSP half positions. The longer the game lasted, however, the more often it was the own wing-backs who took over this job.

FC St. Pauli’s first-row pressing behaviour was different than usual due to Heidenheim’s three-man backline: Christopher Buchtmann kept moving forward from the ten-man position so that all three centre-backs could be tackled. However, this approach was mostly ponderous and posed few problems for Heidenheim.

Basically, however, this start-up behaviour with Buchtmann between the strikers was a pretty lame number. Most of the time, FCSP started (too) late and with (too) little pace, so that Heidenheim rarely came under pressure. In any case, Heidenheim often simply broke free with a long ball.

The decisive factors in the game were, as could be expected, the ball losses and the behaviour in the transition moments. In the course of the first half, FC St. Pauli increasingly succeeded in finishing the positional attacks. As a result, the number of dangerous ball losses was significantly reduced.

Afeez Aremu played an important role towards the end of the first half. He was often the end of a formed triangle between a centre-back and a player on the half position. The Heidenheim formation did not offer FC St. Pauli much space on the outer lanes and they rarely managed to get the ball into the important zone “behind the wing-back”. But the longer the first half went on, the more often Afeez Aremu was released centrally, i.e. in a dangerous zone for Heidenheim. Aremu once again played well defensively in the FCSP jersey, but offensively he can still make a few steps (I’m convinced that he will – yesterday he had more ball actions than ever before at FCSP and he is looking for them much more actively now). However, that was only the first chain that was played over. As a result, the Heidenheim defence tightened up even more and offered FC St. Pauli even less space. Aremu had accordingly few options, despite his central position.

As an example (sometimes it was not the Heidenheim wing defenders, but the eights who ran at the FCSP wing-backs): When FC St. Pauli managed to form a triangle, Afeez Aremu could often be released centrally, as Heidenheim occupied the outside positions well, but were understaffed centrally. FC St. Pauli made too little out of these situations, which arose frequently, especially towards the end of the first half.

Even though FC St. Pauli’s game was balanced towards the end of the first half, Heidenheim clearly had the better scoring chances overall. Almost all of these chances came from FC St. Pauli losing the ball. I didn’t count a single scoring chance for Heidenheim from their own build-up play. While FC St. Pauli tried to control the ball in front of the Heidenheim goal, they always tried to switch quickly when they won the ball, which they often did. One reason for this was that FC St. Pauli not only lost the balls too often. They also won them back far too seldom.

2nd half: Release the Kraken!

I’ll be honest: The counter-pressing and generally the pressure on the opponents with the ball was shit from FC St. Pauli in the first half. Sure, the number of ball losses too. But if you don’t even repeat some of them directly, then it’s doubly bitter. Against Heidenheim, it was less the positioning, but rather the behaviour after losing the ball. There was simply a lack of pace.

Speed then came into play after half-time with Maximilian Dittgen, who replaced Christopher Buchtmann. However, I don’t want to attribute the improvement in FC St. Pauli’s play (only) to Dittgen. There was a slight change in the starting behaviour, yes. But it was the, in my opinion, clearly changed behaviour after losing or winning the ball. Heidenheim had conceded five of their nine goals up to that point after losing the ball themselves (the highest number in the division). After this game, it is 9 out of 13.

The thing that helped FC St. Pauli to score three goals in those exhilarating five minutes, to free the octopus, was their own counter-pressing or greed for the ball and the subsequent switching behaviour. This unmistakable “Give us the ball back, you ass!”, which also characterises 1. FC Heidenheim, was decisive for the game.
Through this aggressive pressing by Zander and Aremu, Marcel Hartel was able to win the ball back on the right side in the 55th minute and pass it on to Jackson Irvine. Immediately, an enormous tempo developed. Irvine chipped to Burgstaller, whose first contact was world-class, the second might already be exhibited in the Museum of Modern Arts the day after tomorrow and the third is that of a classic goal scorer – 1-1!
A minute later it’s Irvine again on the same side, who gets the ball because Heidenheim was put under pressure and can’t clear the ball properly. Quickly Burgstaller is played in, he crosses in from the right, Dittgen at the first post free as a bird – 2:1. BOOM!

The third goal was also scored after Heidenheim lost the ball, or rather a strong (and fair!) ball win by Marcel Hartel. In this goal, too, it is the behaviour directly after winning the ball that is decisive: Dittgen immediately moves through on the outside and only because of this can Hartel directly initiate the counterattack.

Can you remember three FCSP goals within five minutes? Has there ever been anything like that? I can’t. But fuck yes, I want more of it! FC St. Pauli turned the game completely upside down within a few minutes.

Goal? Goal! Goal? Goal! Guido Burgstaller and Maximilian Dittgen aka “The Doublescorers “.
(imago images/via OneFootball)

But before we start praising everything to the skies: It was still a fairly even game of football. The difference, however, was that 1. FC Heidenheim made less of their ball wins in the first half than FC St. Pauli did in the second.

After Heidenheim had overcome the shock of conceding three goals, with the substitution of Tim Kleindienst, they started to create chances again. FC St. Pauli looked stable but had shown how quickly a game can be overturned. Philipp Ziereis (90% on the ground, 100% won in the air) and Jakov Medic were stable, however, especially in the 2nd half.

What distinguished FC St. Pauli in the 2nd half was nothing other than what Heidenheim has been playing for years. It is this blatant focus on the moments of change of possession, which has improved over the years, that makes Frank Schmidt’s team so successful. Until yesterday, Heidenheim had scored six goals shortly after winning the ball. Now there are eight. Six goals were scored in this match. All of them were the result of ball losses or ball gains and transition moments. If you needed more proof of how important the behaviour in the transition moments is, you only have to look at yesterday’s game.

FC St. Pauli shone in recent games with sometimes outstanding dominance and game control. In Heidenheim, it showed that it also works without and that this team can unleash just as much force in offensive and defensive switching moments when it is needed. Four goals against the best defence in the division up to that point is perhaps a bit high (xG: 2.2 – 1.5 per FCSP), but still more than a statement.

However, the game also showed again that FC St. Pauli must not let up but always play and work to the hilt in order to be successful. But what is almost frightening is that when the team delivers this 100%, even if it is only for a half, then they are currently unbeatable.

Keep moving forward!

//Tim (translation by Arne)

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(Unless otherwise marked, all statistics are from Wyscout)

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8 thoughts on “That’s how you get prom… to win in Heidenheim!

  1. Danke für den emotionalen und analytisch feinen Kommentar, Tim! Der Beginn der zweiten Hälfte fühlte sich im Stadion an wie ein Rausch, hoffentlich bewahren sich die Jungs diese Gier. Forza!

  2. Ich muss die ganze Zeit grinsen und kichern, während ich diesen Artikel lese. Das macht alles so einen Spaß gerade … das ist geiler wie 09/10, und das war schon verdammt geil.

  3. Der FC St. Pauli wird langsam zum Angstgegner für den 1. FC Heidenheim, Maik hat die verdiente TV-Präsenz (immerhin kurz) und endlich wieder Tims Analysen. Sooo schön gerade alles.

  4. Moin Schönes Fazit,
    Mir bereitet gerade nur Unser Tabellenplatz etwas Sorge, da wir gerade zu weit dem 4. Platz enteilt sind ;-)… und dann KonzernMannschaften vielleicht demnächst am Millerntor empfangen werden müssten… ganz ehrlich … ich möchte so ein GeldSzenario nächste Saison nicht erleben… auch bei den TicketPreisen…
    Eher sollten wir dann Unseren Frauenfußball deutlich besser fördern…
    Meine Meinung ( und Eure?!)

    1. Meine Meinung? Aufstieg jetzt. Darum geht es im Fußball. Und besser wir als Kühne, Gazprom, Wiesenhof, Kind. Ich möchte gerne mit einem (wenn auch kleinem) Gegenentwurf Meister werden.

      Das nimmt nicht weg, dass der Frauenfußball noch besser gefördert werden sollte. Aber auch das geht dann besser, wenn Geld aus der ersten Herren Liga generiert wird.

  5. Topp Artikel!!!

    Flanke vorm 2-1 von Kyereh, oder?

    Jetzt noch 18 Punkte zum Nicht-Abstieg holen, dann einmal durchatmen und jedes Spiel gewinnen wollen. Die Liga ist sooooo eng bei einander.

    Wurde schon mal soo ein gepflegter Ball im Millerntor gespielt?! Und dann scheint von außen betrachtet, auch noch ne gute Stimmung und Anspruchhaltung innerhalb der Mannschaft gepflegt zu werden, echt guut.


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