One of the 2. Bundesliga surprise packages this season in Heidenheim entered matchday 22 sitting pretty in fourth-place. Frank Schmidt’s time are very much in the hunt for the promotion play-off position. They welcomed league leaders Hamburger SV to the Voith Arena in the first-ever meeting between the two sides in Baden-Württemberg.
Hamburg were coming off the back of a 1-0 win over Dynamo Dresden with Lewis Holtby scoring late in the match. It was an unimpressive display yet when the opportunity presented itself, Hamburg took advantage. Heidenheim entered this fixture with a 2-1 victory over lowly Darmstadt and a performance which saw Robert Glatzel score a brace and put him into double figures for the season.
A fixture which was expected to be really tight turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable contest. Heidenheim were really up for the contest and forced Hamburg to come from behind twice to get a share of the spoils. This match analysis will take you through the 2-2 draw between Heidenheim and Hamburger SV.
From the side that took victory in Darmstadt, Frank Schmidt made a couple of changes to his team. Marc Schnatterer who has been making cameo appearances since returning from injury would get his first start of the new year. The Heidenheim captain would replace Denis Thomalla who has been a solid contributor this season. The second change came in defence, Patrick Mainka returned to the lineup to partner Timo Beerman at centre-half. Out went 19-year-old Tobias Reithmeir.
Hannes Wolf was forced to make a number of changes with injuries plaguing the league leaders. Douglas Santos was out due to injury and his replacement was set to be Josha Vagnoman. However, Vagnoman would get injured in the warm-up seeing Khaled Narey move in as a makeshift left-back. Hwang Hee-chan made his return to the side after the Asian Cup and had been recovering from his own injury lay-off.
Heidenheim’s power press
Throughout the season, Hamburg have showcased a strong ability to be competent in possession and moving the ball with patience. However, teams that have been able to apply a successful high press have seen Hamburg cough up possession and put their defence under unnecessary pressure. We saw it under Titz and it’s still an issue under Wolf. Holstein Kiel has done this to perfection twice this season and Heidenheim, for the most part, were able to replicate it. Here is an example of how Heidenheim’s high pressing lead to a turnover of possession.
Hamburg goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck is in possession, he has David Bates and Rick van Drongelen as his nearest passing options. Orel Managla, who is playing in the number six role for Hamburg, is also dropping into the space vacated by Bates and van Drongelen to offer a third option. Nikola Dovedan and Robert Glatzel are the closest Heidenheim players but aren’t pressing particularly high. Pollersbeck opts for Van Drongelen.
Here, the press intensifies quite significantly with Marc Schnatterer immediately applying pressure as he gains possession. Both Dovedan and Glatzel are shifting to their right. The Hamburg defender could either play the ball across the pitch to Bates in a switch or play back to the ‘keeper. Mangala is an option but a risky option.
With the ball played to Mangala, he is under immense pressure by Dovedan who is breathing down his neck. The option to Bates has been cut off by Glatzel and a return pass to Van Drongelen isn’t on. Mangala’s only option is to play back to his goalkeeper.
Nikola Dovedan continues his high press and once Mangala relieves himself of possession, the Austrian hunts down Pollersbeck. At this point, Pollersbeck doesn’t have a passing option available to him. He can only clear possession. Which he does poorly as the ball remains in Heidenheim’s final third.
A constant theme of teams who have played well against Hamburg this season is this application of off and on pressing. Timing plays a major factor and when done successfully, it leads to a return of possession.
Berkay Özcan’s peach
One of Hannes Wolf’s favourite players at Stuttgart was 21-year-old attacking midfielder Berkay Özcan. During the winter break, the Turkish midfielder was brought over on loan with the option to buy at season’s end. Since arriving, Özcan has filled the role left by injured club captain Aaron Hunt and already has two goals to his name. One coming in the DFB Pokal third round against Nürnberg and his second coming in this fixture. Let’s rewind and look at his classy equaliser.
Hwang Hee-chan picks up possession on the right of midfield and with little options going forward, he cuts inside. Pierre-Michel Lasogga is an option short but he would be under immediate pressure if he took possession. Heidenheim were well set up defensively and are keeping a strong line between the back-four. Hwang plays himself into trouble. Lewis Holtby will take possession off the South Korean.
With Holtby in possession, the play isn’t developing as expected, Lasogga is caught flat-footed and isn’t a passing option. Heidenheim defender Patrick Mainka pushes up from the defensive line to thwart Holtby who has Niklas Dorsch draped all over him. Özcan is a half-option but it’s a tight passing space.
It’s an unbelievable pass by Holtby to play Özcan who has left his opponent Marnon Busch in the dust. There is still plenty to do from here for Özcan as goalkeeper Kevin Müller has left his line to rush. With how the ball was played, Özcan could either dink the ball past Müller or try an audacious chip and hope he gets enough dip.
Özcan tries the latter of the two options and it works a treat as he levels the score at 1-1.
Glatzel continues to sparkle
Entering this fixture, Robert Glatzel had an impressive goalscoring record of 10 goals in 13 2. Bundesliga appearances. The Munich native had missed a decent portion of the Hinrunde due to injury, but possesses an outstanding goalscoring record. Coming off a brace in Darmstadt, Glatzel has become a huge focal point of Heidenheim’s attack and once again he would show this. His one and only goal was a mixture of individual brilliance and questionable goalkeeping.
Glatzel will start the move in the final third. As you can see Glatzel has support to his left but if a pass was to be made, Gideon Jung should snuff out the danger. Hamburg have given Glatzel an opportunity to cut inside but he would be under immediate pressure from Vasilije Janjicic.
Despite the pressure, Glatzel takes the space available in front of him. Jung now joins Janjicic in pressuring the ball carrier. Bates is defending the space in front and once Glatzel enters the 18-yard-box, the Scotsman should then make his move towards Glatzel.
Heidenheim’s number nine is allowed to shoot inside the area, Bates doesn’t close the space in front of him allowing a shot on goal. The window for a shot is tight but it’s heading towards the near post of Julian Pollersbeck’s goal. Pollersbeck is almost on his goal line and thanks to the angle he has taken, he’s at an immediate disadvantage. He’s shown too much of his near post and now has a low percentage shot as a chance.
A scenario which could’ve been avoided by closing down on the ball carrier and poor goalkeeping leads to Heidenheim retaking the lead. For Glatzel, it’s his 11th goal of the campaign in 14 league outings. He is now averaging a goal every 84 minutes in 2. Bundesliga play.
Hamburg snatch a point
With just over 20 minutes remaining, Hamburg were staring down the barrel of defeat. Although the ramifications of a defeat were minimised thanks to Paderborn beating Köln the night before, it would be a missed opportunity. However, thanks to some quick build-up play and a bit of luck, Hamburg would find an equaliser.
The play begins inside their own half, Rick van Drongelen is in possession with Heidenheim applying a soft press. Khaled Narey looks to take advantage of Marnon Busch who is caught between playing the ball or defending his left shoulder. Thanks to a moment of indecisiveness, van Drongelen plays Narey in.
Narey is now in a perfect spot to play the ball into a dangerous area. Heidenheim have dropped men back creating a more favourable match-up for them. Hamburg have only three players in the box in Jann-Fiete Arp, Holtby and Lasogga. With the score at 2-1 with 20 minutes to play, you’d expect Özcan and Hwang to also provide an option.
With the ball played in, Lewis Holtby is the target. He has four Heidenheim defenders converging on him. At this point, any shot taken by Holtby is most likely going to be blocked or deflected away. Lasogga, who was man-marked, has peeled off his opponent in the hope the ball falls his way.
Thanks to a fortuitous deflection, the ball kindly falls to Lasogga. With Kevin Müller covering a large portion of the goal, Lasogga produces a pile-driving shot which the Heidenheim goalkeeper doesn’t get near. Off the crossbar and in, right in front of the travelling Hamburg fans.
In a game which Hamburg controlled with possession, it was Heidenheim who looked very impressive against the league leaders. A strong pressing game which was used for the entirety of the 90 minutes by Heidenheim caused Hamburg plenty of headaches. It wasn’t a bad draw for Hamburg, the Voith Arena is a tough ground to play at as was shown in the DFB Pokal. Nevertheless, it was a missed opportunity to put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.
What we learned is that Heidenheim on their day could be a contender for a promotional play-off spot. They aren’t fancied like St. Pauli, Union Berlin and Holstein Kiel for that third-placed spot. However, it’s evident that teams fighting for promotion should be taking the Baden-Württemberg side as a serious threat.
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