FC St. Pauli earn a point against Werder Bremen. Measured against the course of the game, this result is certainly fair. However, the word justice should not necessarily be mentioned first when the second goal is scored. The next games will show exactly what this point is worth.
(Cover picture: Stefan Groenveld, from whom there are a few more pictures to see)
Shortly after the end of the game, we already published an article on the game, where I still couldn’t really get my head around what to make of this draw.
It was with some frowning that I read the line-up an hour before kick-off. No nominal right-back was on the pitch. Instead, Philipp Ziereis came back into the team in defence. Luca Zander, like the other two nominal right-backs, was not in the squad. And since Adam Dźwigała was also only on the bench, I was a little confused as to who would start at right-back or whether it would even be a three-man line and Etienne Amenyido (for Simon Makienok), who had also been brought into the team, would be used as a right wing-back.
Already the warm-up phase, when Marcel Beifus hit cross after cross from the right to Amenyido in the centre, provided some information. After the match, Timo Schultz first said about Beifus’ line-up as a right-back that Luca Zander had called in sick a few hours before the match and then explained that Adam Dźwigała had only been able to train fully once during the training week. Moreover, he had been sure that Beifus would do his job well. I think that can be underlined (possibly apart from one single situation). Schultz also revealed that Beifus’ injury was said to be something to his left ankle. The substitution of him, however, had been planned one way or another.
Werder Bremen also had some changes or returnees in the first eleven: With Marco Friedl and Milos Veljkovic, two enormously important defenders returned to the team (they replaced Ilia Gruev and Anthony Jung). Wing-back Mitchell Weiser was also back in the starting eleven for the first time after his injury (replacing Mbom). In addition, Leonardo Bittencourt replaced Niklas Schmidt in midfield.
Spreading out instead of squatting on each other
In the preliminary report, I outlined two scenarios of how FC St. Pauli could play against Werder Bremen’s three-man attacking line: Either with long balls to Simon Makienok, around whom the teammates then position themselves well, or with three attackers who move strongly out wide to create maximum horizontal pressure on the opponent’s three-man chain. Timo Schultz explained at the PK after the match why the decision was made in favour of Amenyido and the wide attackers:
“We expected Bremen to play with a three-man defence. Etienne, with his depth, is predestined to go in between the three-man defence. We also knew that we would have to defend with three men in the front line against four Bremen players who want to open the game. Of course, Simon doesn’t lend himself to that. He’s more of a target player who holds the centre.”
Timo Schultz on the line-up of Etienne Amenyido and the tactics involved.
So with Amenyido in the formation, it was clear that when St. Pauli had possession, Kyereh, Burgstaller and Amenyido would form a line right up front that would pull very wide. But as in the first leg, I would like to say that this didn’t work very well in the second leg either. Also because Dittgen, the player with the most depth in the squad, was missing.
What worked much better, however, and which was partly due to the wide-open attack, was the pressing behaviour and the prevention of Bremen’s build-up play.
Actually, FC St. Pauli’s pressing must be described as poor. When Werder Bremen were in possession of the ball and in a defensive build-up, the three offensive players confronted four Bremen players. Especially Nicolai Rapp’s six-man area was only sparsely occupied when the attack was aggressive. But Werder could not (yet) use this space because they played it very sluggishly or FCSP did it very concentrated and kept the distances between each other very disciplined. And apparently, it is also a question of personnel, as the second half showed.
Further forward, Werder Bremen tried to lure the FC St. Pauli wing-backs out of their position in order to then exploit these spaces. The wing defenders positioned themselves not quite as high, but quite consistently far out so that the FCSP players were faced with the decision of whether to run at them with the eighth or the full-back. Whenever, really whenever, Paqarada or Beifus ran at Bremen’s wing defenders, Bittencourt and Schmid sprinted to the offensive wing and tried to use the space behind the wing defenders. But FCSP were also well prepared for this and it happened very often that Irvine or Hartel followed the paths of their opponents. Werder could not really use the space on the outside.
FC St. Pauli created a number of promising situations in the first half, as they often managed to win the ball in central midfield. Afeez Aremu once again stood out with an impressive defensive performance (seven passes intercepted, 67% tackling rate), but also caused beads of sweat on his forehead in his own possession (a passing rate of only 72% is actually unacceptable as a six – he also had six(!) ball losses in his own half).
Promising situations for FC St. Pauli, but they failed quite constantly due to their own shortcomings. Many moments in the offensive were quickly ended due to own mistakes. The inglorious “king” of the ball losses was Etienne Amenyido, who could only win six of 28 duels and who also showed that he had not had any match practice for a long time (only played five times, only two successful passes in the attacking third, no progressive runs at all).
FCSP intense, SVW efficient
That was frustrating, especially when compared to the other side: Werder Bremen played a rather weak half, but certainly had the more compelling scoring chances, because they almost always converted the few options they had into a goal. Don’t pin me down on that, but that’s already in the style of a division leader, the way the team created chances even though their own game wasn’t really going at all.
So it was 0-0 for a long time, despite a very rousing game of football, which then turned the spotlight on referee Florian Badstübner for the first time in the 41st minute: Guido Burgstaller got to the ball on the left in the penalty area and put it past Mitchell Weiser, who left his leg. There was very clear contact and as a result, Burgstaller was brought down. I deliberately don’t write that Burgstaller went down because of the contact because that is probably the argumentation punchline that Badstübner also uses in the scene when he has to explain why he didn’t decide on a penalty for FC St. Pauli. “The contact was there, but it was not enough to bring Burgstaller down,” or something like that.
Personally, I see it a little differently and would say that Burgstaller at least lost his footing due to the contact. He certainly falls a bit clumsily to the ground, but his upper body was already tilting forward beforehand and his movement was noticeably disturbed. For me personally, this is a clear penalty, which must be given simply because of the stupidity of Mitchell Weiser, because he left his leg so clumsily in the first place. A penalty for stupidity, so to speak, but not only because of the action in the penalty area (because I can think of another reason).
But before we could really get into a frenzy, FC St. Pauli scored the 1:0 – in my opinion, that was well deserved, because FCSP simply had the better game and was able to get into good situations more often (even though they often lacked the finishing touches).
The turning point is Gruev
In the first half, Werder had problems in the build-up to the game and therefore could not create permanent pressure, as was the case in other games. For the second half, Ole Werner brought in Ilia Gruev for Nicolai Rapp at the six position. Gruev was described by Timo Schultz at the pre-match press conference as the SVW’s “playmaking” option at this position. This is how it turned out: With Gruev, who was played much more often in tight situations than Rapp, Werder could more easily play through FCSP’s first pressing line. So Werder got into the game much better and FCSP lost their grip, had to react much more often in the pressing and could no longer generate the desired pressure and now won the balls in less promising positions for transition moments. Sounds simple, but sometimes it’s simple things like that that make the pendulum swing one way or the other.
However, Werder could not really generate pressure. FCSP continued to defend consistently and well in the deeper areas. In this phase, the efforts of Jackson Irvine paid off again, winning eight of nine defensive duels and intercepting as many passes as Aremu. But then came the 58th minute…
The great hand-tunnel trick
Bremen’s Felix Agu got the ball on the left and was directly pressured by Marcel Beifus. He wants to pass him on the inside and played the ball, more badly than good, in the appropriate direction. But the ball then suddenly moved through Beifus’ legs. Agu had played the ball with his hand, giving it a clear and decisive change of direction. The Bremen player passed Beifus, played to Bittencourt, who crossed to Schmid at the second post, who then passed to Füllkrug in the centre, who scored to make it 1-1 – shit.
Beifus complained loudly to the referee about the handball directly after the duel, i.e. while the game was still in progress. Some people accused him of stopping the game. I agree that you shouldn’t just stop there. But I would like to put forward the thesis that he could not have had such a big influence on the further course of the game because Agu had already made metres. And if you are honest, the much bigger problem in the situation is that Füllkrug appears completely blank two metres in front of the goal.
But back to the handball and with it again the spotlight on Florian Badstübner: The referee gave the goal and apparently assessed the situation around Agu’s handball differently than many (all?) in the stadium and in front of the screens. And also differently than the video assistants in Cologne. Shortly after the goal, Badstübner went into the review area to take another look at Agu’s handball. But the time he spent in that review area alone is a sheer mockery: five seconds (I stopped the time again) or rather half a slow-motion (from the wrong perspective!) seemed to be enough for him to feel confirmed. In a decision that he should have world exclusivity. An inexplicable wrong decision.
But for all the criticism that this scene deserved: If you look at the course of the game and also the first minutes of the second half, the goal for Bremen was not undeserved. So before the referee is held responsible for two lost points, FCSP must first address why they lost their grip on Bremen’s game in the second half. Anyway, many of the words against Badstübner on social media go way too far. He made a brutally bad decision, yes. But a few weeks ago we were all having a good laugh about Tim Walter and his criticism of the referee (in the game against Bremen, by the way) and now many of them are even far below that in their wording.
A fair but unhelpful draw?
The goal was followed by a longer period of pressure from Bremen. Only in the final phase was FCSP able to open up the game again and had a few more chances in the end. But neither Burgstaller nor Matanović are currently in such impressive form that a ball simply rolls in. But Werder Bremen also had several chances to score the winner. A fair draw, which doesn’t really seem to help either team.
So FC St. Pauli gets a draw against the current league leaders. It was a duel of equals, but I must honestly admit that I had the feeling that FCSP had to stretch quite a bit to reach eye level, while Werder rather squatted a bit. Many approaches of FC St. Pauli’s combination play could also be seen against Werder. But too rarely did the team manage to go beyond these approaches. And on the other hand, Werder Bremen showed how to get much more out of much less playful approaches. That is simply a quality that FCSP lacks at the moment. Everything is a little harder, everything has to be worked hard for. It’s not a flow.
In the evening, Nürnberg won against Darmstadt 98. As a result, FC St. Pauli remains in third place in the table, but Nürnberg is now within four points of FCSP. It’s a brutally close race and should continue that way.
In order for FC St. Pauli not to drop out of this race piece by piece, they now have to win at best at Sandhausen next week. Only then will we know what exactly this point against Bremen is worth. Then come the direct duels against Darmstadt and Nuremberg. I can already feel the tension. Let’s make it exciting first and then clear! Go, FC St. Pauli, promotion! Now!
Keep moving forward!
//Tim (translation by Arne)