FC St. Pauli – Karlsruher SC – We got Simon what do you have?

FC St. Pauli – Karlsruher SC – We got Simon what do you have?

It was a celebration what FC St. Pauli delivered in the first half against Karlsruher SC. Everything was there again: the frenetic offensive, the biting counter-pressing and the stable defence. Therefore, the 3:1 against KSC is highly deserved, even if the second 45 minutes could not keep up offensively.
(Titelbild: Joern Pollex/Getty Images/via OneFootball)

You can find the match report of yesterday’s home victory in our match report.

The line-up

Christopher Buchtmann, Simon Makienok and Nikola Vasilj were new in the starting eleven compared to the unfortunate cup defeat against Union Berlin. Dennis Smarsch, Afeez Aremu and Maximilian Dittgen had to make way for them. FC St. Pauli returned to their 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond. Jackson Irvine, as some had previously suspected, played in the sixth position.KSC also changed personnel compared to the cup match: Marc Lorenz and Lucas Cueto came into the starting eleven for Jerome Gondorf and Kyoung-rok Choi. Christian Eichner’s team arranged itself in a 4-3-3. It was almost unusual for FC St. Pauli’s opponents not to have arranged themselves in a three-man backline. The allocation on the outer lanes, which is quite clear in a system with a three-man backline, was then also the biggest problem for KSC in the first half.

PRessingverhalten des Karlsruher SC im Spiel beim FC St. Pauli

Limp pressing against good build-up play

The pressing behaviour of Karlsruher SC in the first half is, in my view, a good example of exactly how not to press against FCSP. For one thing, KSC gave FCSP’s centre-backs a lot of time in possession, so they didn’t run straight at them (that’s also the important difference to the second half). Medić and Beifus could do a lot with this time. But there was another central problem, which became much bigger with too much time for the centre-backs: The two attacking wingers Goller and Lorenz each had to do double duty.
KSC always confronted FCSP’s front four with three players. Hofmann always ran at the ball-carrying centre-back from the middle of the pitch, but mainly tried to keep Irvine in his cover shadow. So it was the outside offensive player who had to put pressure on the centre-back with the ball. The problem: This player should have put pressure on the outside defender at the same time.

FC St. Pauli, therefore, had relatively few problems overplaying KSC’s front line. If they succeeded, for example by a quick shift or by simple passes to the outer lane (which the centre-backs could play with relatively little opponent pressure), Zander or Paqarada usually had quite a lot of space in front of them. The next opponents were KSC’s two eights, who first had to break away from the man-oriented defence against St. Pauli’s eights. KSC’s full-backs did not start aggressively either, probably because Kyereh, Makienok and Burgstaller liked to form a tangle centrally and therefore the back four should not be broken up. Long balls to Makienok in particular were a tried and tested means of reacting well to more aggressive pressing from Karlsruhe.


In the style of a top team

The statement about the unsuitable behaviour of Karlsruhe should not mean that FC St. Pauli only played such a good first half because of mistakes in the opponent’s pressing. After all, you first have to clear and use the spaces that present themselves in the way that FCSP did. Playing the free full-back, shifting to the full-back far away from the ball or the long ball to the top: All this had a lot of flairs, the style of a top team.

The perfect use of space was exemplified by the 1:0 when Luca Zander was played relatively simply and then used the free space in front of him. This goal was played out really well in the final third. That is simply impossible for the opposing team to defend.
The 2:0 is an example of the quick-shifting of the ball to the far back when Jackson Irvine set up Paqarada on the other side of the pitch so that FCSP could even run towards the last KSC chain for a short time.
Makienok’s exit strategy was exemplified by the 3:0 score when he even took the long ball from Beifus with his chest and let his opponent off the hook. You probably won’t find more beauty this weekend than the ball reception and the following goal finish.
What can I say? It was a very satisfying first 45 minutes.

Deutschland, Hamburg, 05.03.2022, Fussball 2. Bundesliga 25. Spieltag, FC St. Pauli - Karlsruher SC im Millerntor-Stadion Jubel bei Daniel Kofi Kyereh (FC St. Pauli) nach dem Tor zum 1:0 mit Guido Burgstaller (FC St. Pauli)
Daniel-Kofi Kyereh is simply in absolute top form.
(c) Peter Böhmer

In recent weeks, I have often written about the lack of “readiness”. This is a very soft factor and I find it difficult to even begin to measure it. It was more a feeling that the will was lacking recently. Against KSC, however, it was noticeable that many balls were won in counter-pressing. Especially in midfield, the team was quite toxic and gallant and was able to win the balls right back again. Christopher Buchtmann was also a central element in this. Timo Schultz explained his inclusion in the starting eleven by saying that Buchtmann is characterised by “volume, grip and aggressiveness”, that he “takes the team with him” and that he “messes with everyone, including his team-mates”. Before the game, Schultz had the feeling that his team needed exactly this type of player at the end of the English week. In any case, Buchtmann has the most fouls of the game in his record book.

From the point of view of KSC coach Christian Eichner, a lack of aggressiveness was the core problem of his team (I see it somewhat differently). At the post-match press conference, he complained that his team had “played without the body” and “didn’t fight any duels” and was particularly hard on his back four (“You can’t defend like that against the triangle (meaning Burgstaller, Makienok, Kyereh)”).
Even though Eichner attributed the events of the first half mainly to his team’s attitude, he reacted with a change for the second 45 minutes. With Schleusener coming on for Lorenz, the team switched to a flat 4-4-2. Cueto and Goller occupied the left and right sides of midfield respectively. In addition, the team was much more aggressive and FC St. Pauli did not have much time left from the first half.

FC St. Pauli finds the exit

Timo Schultz said after the match that his team had solved these situations, in which KSC’s pressure increased, too rarely with the exit strategy on Simon Makienok. He would have liked his team to overplay the pressing even more often and thus have more people behind the ball. This great strength that the team has with Makienok on the pitch would still be used too little by his team, as many central players simply want to have the ball at their feet too much.
That the words “rare” and “Makienok” come up in the same sentence is something I really didn’t expect after this game. Simon Makienok was enormously important for the team both offensively and defensively. He had a whopping 17 header duels. He won 16 (!). With nine clearances, he played a central role in the many throw-ins and corners, especially in his own penalty area. That was great from the great Simon. Double goal scorer in the derby or not: Yesterday Simon Makienok showed his best game in the FC St. Pauli shirt.


But the second half was not really as refreshing as the first 45 minutes. Apart from the goal against and only two other really dangerous chances by KSC, the defence was actually quite stable. However, two factors led to a massively different impression of the game: KSC’s high risk and FCSP’s low efficiency.
With their now higher pressing, KSC took risks and were mostly man-to-man defensively. And FC St. Pauli also managed to switch dangerously a few times. But the team failed to score the fourth or fifth goal from these situations, to simply put the lid on this game.

Instead, KSC was able to at least bite their way back into the game a little thanks to a set piece and a first-class Philipp Hofmann. And it was then a little more than simply a lack of efficiency that caused FC St. Pauli trouble. It is quite noticeable that this is not the first time that the team has shown a weaker second-half performance. Timo Schultz commented that his team had lost a bit of grip, no longer generated sufficient pressure on the ball in the front line and that the back chain “fell too quickly”. There is room for improvement here. And with that, we’ll just quickly close the chapter on the second half (the people in charge will deal with it sufficiently).

HAMBURG, GERMANY - MARCH 05: Guido Burgstaller (C) of St. Pauli and Daniel O'Shaughnessy and Daniel Gordon of Karlsruhe compete for the ball during the Second Bundesliga match between FC St. Pauli and Karlsruher SC at Millerntor Stadium on March 05, 2022 in Hamburg, Germany.
Guido Burgstaller and his teammates failed to make anything count out of the many good transitioning moments in the second half.
(Joern Pollex/Getty Images/via OneFootball)

Everything as usual + Simon

Nevertheless, the impression from the first half prevails for me and hopefully also for many others. The impression that the team seems to have found back to its strength from the first half, despite many injury worries. And thanks to a fit Simon Makienok (who even got special praise from Schultz, which is really untypical for the FCSP coach), the team now even has an additional strategy that first of all presents every opponent with a difficult task. Add to that Kofi, who simply makes the difference on the offensive, GB9, who always scores when FCSP needs it most, the “lung” Hartel and Jackson Irvine, who would probably also do an excellent job as goalkeeper or groundsman.
With the win and the simultaneous defeats of Schalke and HSV, FC St. Pauli has now regained a five-point cushion on fourth place. Before the start of the English week, FC St. Pauli was in fourth place. So seven days between “If we don’t win this…” back to great conviction. It can happen that quickly. That’s why I love football.

Suddenly everything is back. Not just the hope that this is that one season when everything could come together. No, the belief in the big hit is also back (love anyway, that’s for sure). Sure, the team was trimmed down in the meantime. But now much of what gave us so much joy in the first half of the season is back. So quickly, the many questions about the form of the first half of the season turn into “There it is! And now we have Simon too!” feeling. That just feels good.

Keep moving forward!


//Tim (translation by Arne)

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3 thoughts on “FC St. Pauli – Karlsruher SC – We got Simon what do you have?

  1. Hi Tim,

    Vielen Dank für einen (zwei) Superberichte. Es bringt natürlich mehr Spass die nach einem doch sehr überzeugenden Spiel zu lesen. Ich wollte Dich als Taktikexperten schon länger mal was fragen und dieses Spiel hat mich wieder daran erinnert. Es ist ja oft so (und besonders bei St.Pauli im Moment), dass zwei Halbzeiten in einem Spiel sehr unterschiedlich sein können. Normalerweise reagiert der Trainer des Teams der die schlechtere erste Halbzeit gespielt hat (mit Taktik und/oder Personalanpassungen) und der andere Trainer ändert erstmal nichts, reagiert vielleicht nochmal später in der 2.Halbzeit. Hast Du schonmal gesehen, dass ein Trainer, nach (sehr) guter erster Halbzeit die Taktik geändert hat um dem anderen Trainer wieder einen Schritt voraus zu sein bzw dessen Taktikänderung ins Leere laufen zu lassen? Und denkst Du das wäre sinnvoll oder zu riskant eine funktionierende Taktik zu verändern (ist ja auch nicht klar, ob die Taktikänderung des anderen Trainers funktionert)?
    Würde mich sehr interessieren Deine Meinung zu hören.

  2. Ich frage mich was mit Becker los ist. Letztes Jahr unumstrittener Stammspieler, nächstes Jahr Bundesliga und momentan darf er nichtmal spielen wenn eine 8er Position frei wird (durch Irvine auf der 6).
    Und so wie das gestern lief ist Irvine 6 Buchtmann 8 scheinbar ne Variante die wir in den nächsten Wochen noch öfter sehen dürften.

  3. Freut mich tierisch für den Langen, erstens offensichtlich ein Klasse-Typ und zweitens lässt er endlich die “Der kann nur Derby”-Laberer in meinem Bekanntenkreis verstummen 🙂

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