Paderborn surprised the masses in the 2. Bundesliga by securing the rare double promotion. The rollercoaster ride for Paderborn which saw them relegated from the 3. Liga two seasons ago. However, thanks to 1860 Munich failing to secure a 3. Liga license Paderborn remained in the third tier. 24 Months on and they will be participating in the Bundesliga for the second time in the club’s history. A big part of Paderborn’s rise has been their excellent core of young players and Sebastian Vasiliadis, who has excelled this season. This tactical analysis will take a look at Vasiliadis from his unheralded days in Aalen to being largely impactful in Paderborn’s promotion.
The Story so far…
Vasiliadis was signed by 3. Liga side VFR Aalen at the start of the season as a multidimensional central midfielder who could be used in a variety of different roles. At Aalen, Vasiliadis made 67 appearances in all competition deputising as an 18-year-old in a 0-0 draw against Hallescher FC. His prior season to joining Paderborn was his best statically and with the mentioned gaining promotion, Vasiliadis was one player which suited Paderborn’s identity of having quick and intelligent young players.
Steffan Baumgart didn’t rush Vasiliadis into the starting XI, in fact, he failed to play in the first five competitive fixtures for Paderborn in the DFB Pokal and league. He would make his Paderborn debut in Köln on matchday five and his two-minute spell was impactful. He assisted the fifth goal in a surprising 5-3 win against the expected promoted candidates.
From that moment, Vasiliadis would gain more first-team minutes and score his first goal for Paderborn in an entertaining 4-4 draw with fellow promoted side Magdeburg. He would continue to make cameos appearances before receiving his first start after the international break against Union Berlin.
The explosion came the following matchday at home to struggling Sandhausen. With Paderborn 2-0 down, Vasiliadis would provide three assists to three different goal scorers in a 3-3 draw. He would continue this tear as a creative midfielder where he would average an assist every 2.8 games. It would eclipse his personal best at Aalen and largely due to a better quality of player as well Baumgart’s system which allowed Vasiliadis to excel.
Finding the key
Prior to joining Paderborn, Vasiliadis had only amassed six assists in all competitions with Aalen. This season, in a much more refined system with highly skilled players around him, Vasiliadis is reaping the rewards of having a team in form and on the rise. From his 10 assists, here are three which showcase his high football IQ with the final result leading to goals for Paderborn.
The first situation takes place against Heidenheim, a club which for most of the season was in and around the promotion playoff conversation. With the game tied after 50 minutes, Paderborn are on the offensive. Vasiliadis is on the ball and has drawn two defenders towards him. The third defender in the piece has his body turned towards the touchline. A ball behind him will allow Christopher Antwi-Adjej in on goal. Vasiliadis does just that.
Against Magdeburg, Vasiliadis is on the far side of the ground streaming towards the 18-yard box. Down a goal midway through the second half, Paderborn are in need of a spark. At the back post is Uwe Hunemeier who isn’t marked tightly. The temptation for Vasiliadis would be to play the ball towards the edge of the six-yard box or continue to drive and pull the ball back. Instead, reads the situation presented and with an excellent outside of the boot cross, Paderborn are able to equalise with an exquisite cross and an excellent strike.
The final scenario takes place late in stoppage time and a game which Paderborn have dominated over Dynamo Dresden. As has been the case for most of the season, the elite mentality of continuous domination no matter the score is evident here. Vasiliadis is driving towards the edge of the are, the full-back is out of position which allows for an even player rush. Philipp Klement is onside and would make the run behind the defence. A perfect ball is played to Klement who does the rest.
Having players who can finish off the work is one thing, but being able to make the pass is very crucial as a creative midfielder. At times these passes don’t come off, but when they do at the rate of frequency of this season, it is a thing of beauty.
Adding goal scoring to the repertoire
Throughout his short career, Vasiliadis isn’t noted as a goal scorer. However, goal scoring midfielders are becoming more important in the game. The excuses of a midfielder being unable to finish off clear cut chances are no more. This season, it has been a string to bow for Vasiliadis who finished the season with six goals; a personal best season. Vasiliadis has scored a variety of different ways, screamers from outside the box, tap-ins and anything in between. But his second goal against Hamburger SV perfectly sums up what Vasiliadis and Paderborn are all about.
With the ball in dispute, Vasiliadis is in a foot race with Hamburg defender Leo Lacroix. Whilst it doesn’t look like a pressing opportunity, Vasiliadis sees an opportunity to win possession. Despite Lacroix having support in front of him, Vasiliadis is able to will his way to the ball.
Vasiliadis wins possession and leaves Lacroix in his wake, Gideon Jung poses as the next threat in his way. Jung allows Vasiliadis is the ability to cut onto his right instead of trying to force the Paderborn midfielder towards the touchline. Vasiliadis is able to get on his preferred foot.
With Jung and Lacroix out of the picture, Vasiliadis can take aim. He does just that with a fantastic goal which helped Paderborn go one step closer to promotion whilst ending Hamburg’s. The ability and create something out nothing when an opportunity on goal seemed unlikely.
Like many of the Paderborn players, Vasiliadis has been one of the hits for Baumgart. The blend of youthful exuberance and energy helped Paderborn claim an unlikely promotion back to the Bundesliga. Vasiliadis still has plenty to go in his development cycle, but he has shown that he has the tools to be a valuable player going forward. The question is whether he can make another large leap, this time into the Bundesliga.
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