Wehen Wiesbaden gained promotion from the 3. Liga last season after defeating Ingolstadt in the relegation playoff. The shock result left many questions whether the club would be able to keep up their high scoring, quick tempo game in the 2. Bundesliga. At times, Wiesbaden have found the back of the net with some regularity. However, it’s been in the defensive third where Wehen have been found out. 24 goals in nine outings is the worst in the league, and trainer Rüduger Rehm has searched for options to fix this.
Before their matchday nine fixture with Stuttgart, Wiesbaden signed former Austrian International goalkeeper Heinz Lindner until the end of the season. He would become the sides third goalkeeper used after Lukas Watkowiak last seven outings before being benched. Jan-Christoph Bartels lasted all of three minutes before suffering an injury which will see him miss the next few months. This tactical analysis and scout report looks at Lindner, what he can bring between the sticks for Wiesbaden and whether he is an upgrade on what the club already have.
Entering on shattered confidence
To say the last campaign for Lindner was a disaster would be an understatement. His Grasshopper Club Zurich side was relegated to the Challenge League (Switzerland’s second tier) for the first time in over 50 years. Lindner wore the brunt of some of the criticism, conceding 68 goals in 35 league appearances which were far and away the most given up by a goalkeeper in the Raiffeisen Super League. Let’s see Lindner in action, and perhaps we can pinpoint the reasoning behind the poor showing.
The first situation came in a 6-1 defeat to Young Boys, a fixture which saw Lindner’s colour lowered considerably by the Swiss Champions. What we are looking at here is Lindner’s positioning, the space between himself and the first post, and how he is structurally. Here, Lindner looks good, closing down the angle to the near post and forcing the striker into two scenarios. Pass to the back post which Lindner can cut out or a curling shot into the same area.
Despite being structurally sound with his feet and shoulders; Lindner concedes through his legs. It’s such a soft goal to give up, with all the variables in that situation. He is protecting the near post, trying to predict whether the striker shoots or plays the ball across. Through the legs, concession shouldn’t have happened.
Another situation showcases Lindner’s indecisiveness and it proved costly in what would be his last international match for Austria. As the ball is played in, Lindner is trying to predict the ball drop. Almost assuming that the contest featuring Martin Hinteregger would result in Lindner claiming the ball.
However, Lindner misreads the play leading to Hinteregger heading the ball into his own net. Lindner could’ve stayed on the six yard line and waited to see how the play panned out. Hintergger would’ve more likely headed straight to Lindner. Or he should punch clear and influence the contest. That indecision and lack of confidence was on full display all of last season.
Short Passing supremo
The job description for the goalkeeping position has changed in some regards; keepers are expected to do more on the ball and in many ways are an extension of the “outfield” players. In Germany in particular, keepers need to be active on the ball, and Lindner over his career has showcased to be excellent in possession.
So how does he compare with the goalkeepers in the 2. Bundesliga? As the graph below shows that based on Lindner’s career statistics, the Austrian would be the 16th and equal with Dynamo Dresden keeper Kevin Broll in short pass completion. However, unlike Broll, who on average makes 20.75 passes per game this season, Lindner averages only 9.95 attempts per game.
It’s evident against the goalkeeping fraternity in the 2. Bundesliga, Lindner is middle of the pack. However, he will improve those numbers at Wiesbaden over time.
We’ve mentioned how Lindner is more than capable of being an extension in creating build-up play and the numbers in comparison to the top goalkeepers in the 2. Bundesliga suggests the Austrian fits in. Even if Lindner won’t be called up to do so with Wehen’s style of play which is ranked 18th in possession with only 40.3%. But that doesn’t mean Lindner won’t be called upon as a part of build-up play and Rehm’s tactics. This part of the analysis looks at Lindner’s ability to distribute with long balls; what becomes evident is his effectiveness to find a teammate.
Our first look comes in the UEFA Nations League in Austria’s 1-0 win over Northern Ireland. In the initial phase, we see Lindner being pressed by the Northern Ireland striker. As Austria look to progress the territory battle to halfway, Lindner boots the ball forward.
What we can’t see in the first image is that Marko Arnautović makes a move towards the near side, creating an option for Lindner to hit. To be cool and composed on the ball allows Lindner to hit Arnautović with time and space, allowing the striker to bring the ball to feet and play.
The second situation showcases how strong Lindner is at finding a teammate with the long ball. Over his career, Lindner has completed 63.1% of long passes which is more than respectable. Here, Lindner isn’t being pressed, but you can see he has a variety of options to select. Three short options, however, if Lindner plays the Young Boys structure would force retention and clearance. So long and wide provides the best choice for Lindner who hits his Grasshopper teammate in space. Lindner’s ability to hit his teammates long enables his side to bypass the forwards and temporarily the midfield structure.
The Wiesbaden situation
The introduction into the 2. Bundesliga has been a difficult one, with Wiesbaden bottom after nine matchdays. Their biggest problem has been at the defensive end, 24 goals conceded in nine-game which is by far the worst in the league. To put this into perceptive, over the past five seasons, 60% of sides which are bottom after nine matchdays have been relegated as shown down below. These teams may not have necessarily conceded the most in terms of goals.
Historically, it doesn’t look suitable for Wiesbaden, and the metrics support that the season will only get tougher. We can compare their current situation versus where our pre-season metrics had Wiesbaden at this point in the season, and it suggests that Rehm’s side is “underperforming”.
The difference between goals conceded (GA) and expected goals against (xGA) is the third biggest margin in this metric. Only Dynamo Dresden with a GA to xGA difference of 6.27 and Bochum with a difference of 6.11 have been worse than Wiesbaden in this category so far this season.
Wiesbaden will hope in the long run they can reduce the 4.13 xGA deficit and judging by their previous two games against Osnabrück and Stuttgart, they are slowly turning it around. In the opening seven games, Wehen gave up 23 goals. In their last two, they have only conceded once. It’s believed with Lindner between the sticks; they have an experienced shot-stopper who can stabilise the position.
Lindner produced a strong debut for Wiesbaden in the win over then league leaders Stuttgart. However, over the course, it’s felt that the lapses in concentration and inconsistencies in his play will become prominent at stages throughout the season. The Austrian shot-stopper is very much like Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings; Lindner is good at doing the safe and straightforward things but when required to be expansive and command he falls short.
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