FC St. Pauli lose the derby at the Volksparkstadion not undeservedly. It loses mainly because Timo Schultz’s team only managed to gain control of the game late on. In a game that was determined by switching and standard situations, HSV succeeded in disrupting FCSP’s processes and thus becoming dangerous time and again. Although this defeat hurts, we can only look forward.
(Cover picture: Peter Böhmer)
MillernTon colleague Maik was at the stadium and published a short report shortly after the final whistle, which I would like to recommend to you, especially if you want to reconstruct the course of the game.
…was hardly surprising from FC St. Pauli’s point of view: Apart from Nikola Vasilj, who replaced cup goalkeeper Dennis Smarsch, the same team started as in the cup match against Borussia Dortmund. This also meant that Daniel-Kofi Kyereh did not start. He was not even in the squad. Kyereh had only returned from the Africa Cup on Thursday and is now expected to recover from the exertions.
HSV also made only one change compared to the successful cup match in Cologne: The likeable HSV coach Tim Walter brought in the fast Bakery Jatta on the offensive wing instead of Manuel Wintzheimer.
As expected, FC St. Pauli arranged themselves in a 4-4-2. Timo Schultz had said at the PK after the Dortmund game that the offensive side should be a diamond again. However, there was little of this against HSV, as FCSP was rarely able to build up in peace. HSV, also as expected, arranged themselves in a 4-3-3.
Pressure, pressure, pressure… and mistakes
Directly in the first minutes, HSV showed that they had no interest at all in giving FC St. Pauli even a second of peace anywhere on the pitch in the build-up to the game. All field players, now and then except the centre backs, were repeatedly tackled very aggressively and thus put under massive pressure.
FC St. Pauli was impressed by this in the first few seconds of the game and was rarely able to break free at the beginning and play over HSV’s first pressing line. The problem: Most of the time, the ball was lost exactly in the phase when everything was moving forward because the first pressure seemed to be overplayed. This allowed HSV to switch quickly and become dangerous (one example of many is the first chance of the game by Alidou in the third minute).
HSV had five shots on goal in the first ten minutes alone. FC St. Pauli survived this phase quite fortunately without conceding a goal. But there were some dicey situations, also in their build-up, in which the team made unusual mistakes (e.g. Smith and Paqarada, who played passes directly into the feet of the opponents). HSV’s high pressing paid off. HSV succeeded in putting massive pressure on FCSP’s full-backs in particular and thus decisively disrupted the build-up play.
Not infrequently this season, the team of the always friendly coach Tim Walter paid a high price for the high pressing, as teams repeatedly managed to outplay the pressing. Despite the high pressure and the many initial chances, it was also clear that if FC St. Pauli succeeded in playing to their strengths in offensive switching moments (or in controlled build-up play), then it would be very unpleasant for HSV.
This was achieved more often after the first ten minutes. FC St. Pauli was still not able to use their usual build-up play, but despite high pressure, the ball was moved forward more often in a controlled manner.
This style of play of both teams, with high pressure and the focus on switching situations, made the game very intense. Because when FC St. Pauli was able to overplay the pressing, the ball was too often quickly gone again and HSV was able to transition for its part. Accordingly, at any time and almost at any place on the pitch, the highest tempo was the order of the day (in the build-up to the game, the HSV centre-backs had a little more time). FC St. Pauli always showed good approaches, but rarely went beyond that and could only rarely create scoring chances.
After the game, Marcel Hartel summed up precisely this problem for his team: “HSV put us under very, very good pressure. We didn’t find our playful possibilities. When we won the ball, we didn’t have consistency in our transition movements. The ball was quickly back to HSV and that’s how we made them strong.”
If it doesn’t work out of the game…
And what do you do when your own game is a little rough? Correct, you take the first opportunity after a set piece. In the first minutes, HSV had several clear chances to score from corners but missed them. FCSP did better after a free kick, which was actually a bit too long. But Etienne Amenyido was able to return the ball and Guido Burgstaller managed something that I didn’t think was possible: He scored a derby goal from even fewer centimetres to the goal line than Gerald Asamoah had managed in 2011. Yes, the lead was not really deserved, HSV had more chances. But that didn’t matter at all to me, and I’m sure to everyone else who supports FCSP.
The charming HSV coach Tim Walter had said on the PK before the match that he could not draw any lessons from the first leg, because his team had developed further. In my view, this further development is a kind of a step backwards, towards a more conservative style of play. Tim Walter had always been conspicuous with extremely radical football so far. His defensive players in particular have so far usually been encouraged to break up their positions time and time again to generate an excess in midfield. This made HSV’s games a bit confused at times, but also incredibly exciting. The football looked great, but it was too seldom possible to capitalise on it without catching dangerous counter-attacks on the other side.
Against FC St. Pauli, there was almost nothing left of this radicalism, of the “Walter Ball” that even attracted international attention. Defensive positions were no longer broken up to create superior numbers, the extreme risk was no longer taken. This is only a further development in the broadest sense, as Walter confidently calls it. I would rather call it a step back to a conservative approach. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all, because quite obviously the current game is pretty perfectly tailored to the squad. With the two incredibly fast wingers Jatta and Alidou, as well as the playful and technically outstanding eights Kittel and Reis, Walter can solve game situations in the offensive without any radical means. Kittel and Reis often move to the outer lane and then overload it. Due to the enormous speed of Jatta/Alidou, opposing teams have problems with allocation, as they should, in any case, avoid the offensive outsiders having space at the back of the full-backs. Further overloading of the space does not seem absolutely necessary.
Yes, HSV has become stronger than in the first half of the season. That has to be clearly acknowledged. For the first time this season, FC St. Pauli met an opponent who was partly superior to them, even though they showed a good performance themselves. That is certainly a further development. The blatant “Walter ball” I enjoyed watching, but it seems to be a victim of this development.
Back to the game:
After taking the lead, FC St. Pauli managed to keep the game much more even until half-time. And HSV should not have complained if there had even been a penalty against them. After a successful attack, Ohlsson and Alidou crossed paths in the HSV penalty area. Alidou hit Ohlsson quite clearly on the leg and Ohlsson fell to the ground. For me, even after watching the scene several times, it is completely unclear why this is not a penalty. Incidentally, there was a very similar scene in the first leg when Jatta and Medić crossed paths in the FCSP penalty area. For me, that was a clear penalty then, too. Maybe it’s a kind of equalising justice. But a 2:0 in this phase would have changed the game extremely.
FC St. Pauli went into the break with a narrow lead. However, at this point, Etienne Amenyido and Jackson Irvine were (completely wrongly) yellow-carded. When Irvine was carded, the friendly Tim Walter could also be heard over the outside microphones. That is one of the very few advantages of an almost empty stadium, that you can hear the conversations from the bench and on the pitch. Some of the matches were at a nice district league level yesterday.
2nd half: Balanced, despite two HSV goals
Maximilian Dittgen came on for Etienne Amenyido in the second half. Timo Schultz later explained this by saying that Amenyido, despite having an assist in the first half, had a lot of trouble with his stability and the opponents. Dittgen, according to the plan, should go deep, which HSV mostly offered due to his high position.
The start into the half was much more balanced than the first 45 minutes. Instead of having problems with the pressure of the opponents in the build-up, it was now HSV who rarely managed to get the ball forward in a controlled manner against high pressing. FCSP did this well, even if their offensive play had room for improvement. Now both teams found it difficult to control the ball and the game for a longer period.
A beautiful individual action by Alidou, who had switched sides with Jatta at the beginning of the half, then led to a blocked finish by Glatzel. The following corner was well taken by Sonny Kittel, whose strengths in passing and set pieces were already mentioned in the preliminary report. The ball falls right between Lawrence and Medić, too far at the first post for Vasilj to reach. Sebastian Schonlau then occupies this space between the FCSP players well – and poof, it’s 1-1. That certainly hadn’t been announced in the minutes before, but considering the chance plus of the first half, it was certainly a deserved equaliser.
(Schonlau occupied the space just as well as Jatta did in the first half [albeit in front of and not behind Lawrence] – you could almost think that HSV had analysed FCSP’s four-man space defence for corners beforehand).
A game of equals now developed. HSV lost some of its previously good structure and won back the balls quickly much less often. FC St. Pauli became dangerous whenever Marcel Hartel was involved. Whether he was intercepting passes or making important connections between defence and offence, Hartel once again played a really strong game due to his ball security and clever positional play.
But then came what had already caused FC St. Pauli problems several times in the first half: A ball loss in the forward movement was followed by a great pass from Kittel to Jatta, who picked up enormous speed in the back of Paqarada and shot at goal from a rather acute angle – 2:1. That this could happen, i.e. that Jatta picks up speed in the back of the full-back, had been accepted by FC St. Pauli. “You have to die a death” Timo Schultz always says about such things. Because only when the team accepts such a risk is its offensive play possible at all. The goal we conceded is annoying, of course, but it was also a great goal by Kittel and Jatta. There’s not much you can do about it.
What FC St. Pauli could do, however, was to fight a defeat with all available means, even if the game was not going so well. And that is what the players did. After taking the lead, HSV slackened more and more and opened up spaces for FCSP. FC St. Pauli was able to build up pressure in the last 15 minutes. However, despite several chances, a goal was not scored.
Serenity follows frustration – despite the pain
In the first moment after the final whistle, there was a lot of frustration and I thought that FC St. Pauli made too many mistakes and never found their offensive game, in short, they played like shit together. But after two frustrating beers, I watched the whole game again in re-live. I usually do that, too, but I usually let it run a bit on the side to watch two-three scenes and tactical patterns again. But this time it was absolutely necessary so that I could analyze all because I was far too emotional during the live game. And now that I’ve seen it again in its entirety, I think FC St. Pauli showed a good game against HSV. Apart from the first ten minutes, it was an intense and even game in which both teams interfered decisively in the build-up. The last quarter of an hour then even went clearly to FC St. Pauli. In the end, FCSP lost against a really strong team because somehow the final punch was missing upfront (maybe the answer here is Daniel-Kofi Kyereh).
So there it is the derby defeat. It was obvious that it would come at some point. It really hurts, I have to admit. I would have liked to see the town’s championship title in our ranks. But if we’re going to lose a derby, it should be in the current situation. Maybe there will be a chance for revenge this season (the cup quarter-finals will be drawn on 30 January).
I don’t see any reason to worry because of four games in a row without a win in the division. The performance against Kiel before the winter break, for example, was much more worrying. In the derby, FC St. Pauli lost narrowly against a strong opponent in a largely even match. Nevertheless, FC St. Pauli remains in a promotion spot and has every chance of making it to the top.
Now we’ll shake all that out of our clothes, take a deep breath and then we’ll continue. Everything we can dream of is possible.
Keep moving forward!
//Tim (translation by Arne)