The Monday night kick-off for matchday 12 in the 2. Bundesliga comes from the Ruhrstadion as Bochum looked for their first home win of the season when they hosted Nürnberg. Der Club hasn’t had the kind of start expected of them since their relegation from the Bundesliga but had an excellent opportunity to right their wrongs after a tough week. Both sides were knocked out in the cup in midweek to Bayern Munich and Kaiserslautern respectively.
This tactical analysis examines a massive encounter of two sides who have failed to meet expectations. We look at how Bochum’s first half set them up to go on a win 3-1.
Thomas Reis made two changes to the side that lost valiantly to the record champions Bayern Munich. Bochum’s top scorer this season Silvere Ganvoula was out due to suspension with on loan Hamburger SV striker Manuel Wintzheimer come in. Saulo Decarli was left out of the squad entirely; his replacement was Simon Lorenz. A structural change saw Reis opt for a 4-4-2 over a 4-2-3-1.
Damir Canadi was forced to make four changes from the team that lost on penalties in the second round of the DFB Cup to Kaiserslautern. Oliver Sorg and Enrico Valentini were both out due to concussion and illness, respectively. This saw Lukas Jäger play as a makeshift full-back while Fabian Nürnberger was making his fifth appearance of the season. Iuri Mederios was swapped out for Nikola Dovedan while Robin Hack also came into the side. The big news came at goalkeeper. With Christian Mathenia, Patric Klandt and Jonas Wendlinger out, Andreas Lukse, who is the number two, was expected to start. However, Lukse had been suffering from a fever giving 18-year old Benedikt Willert his Nürnberg debut.
Nürnberg’s defensive set-up
From their opening 11 matches, Nürnberg has struggled back in the 2. Bundesliga conceding 19 goals in that span. It was the fifth-worst defensive record in the league. This indeed suggests that the transfer turnover and changing of personnel hasn’t helped Nürnberg’s cause and as a result, they are in mid-table, rather than challenging for promotion. With this in mind, let’s take a look at their defensive shape from this game and see if we can pinpoint any glaring issues with the set-up.
In the early stages of this game, Nürnberg played in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Johannes Geis playing in the number six and Michael Frey as the lone striker. Several players were playing out of position, and it would seem the shape suffered as a result. As Armel Bella-Kotchap looks to play the ball, the spaces between midfield and defence are more than sizable. Sebastian Kerk is very deep and gives the impression of five at the back, while Geis is technical out of position, leaving a gaping hole between the lines. This makes it much easier for Bochum to transition the ball from halfway going forward and exposes the Nürnberg defence.
We see midway through the second half, Nürnberg changed their tactics to a 4-4-2. Canadi swapped out Dovedan and Kerk in favour of Felix Lohkemper and Mederios. Lohkemper is playing as the last man up top with Frey dropping in and pressing the ball carrier. Here the shape is much more distinguished, and the spaces between defence and midfield have narrowed.
In this particular play, Bochum goes backwards and sideways, looking for an avenue to exploit. What is more noticeable from a Nürnberg perspective is the defensive line. If you revert to the first picture, we see Nürnberg sitting back and allowing Bochum to penetrate their attacking half. As a result, Bochum were able to pick their way through the Nürnberg defence and get into dangerous areas. Here, the ball is in a similar situation, but this time Nürnberg have a far more active line with the intent to win possession back.
Bochum’s attacking play
Despite Bochum’s poor start to the season, the club hasn’t any issues finding the back of the net. If we include the win on Monday, Bochum has scored 23 goals this season. That’s third-best in the 2. Bundesliga behind Hamburger SV (29) and Arminia Bielefeld (24). In this encounter, Bochum had great success exploiting the wings and attacking through the interplay between the full-backs and the wide midfielders. This part of the analysis looks to showcase how these interplays allowed Bochum to create dangerous attacking situations.
The first scenario comes in the early stages of the first half; it’s quite clear that Bochum had planned to exploit the full-backs in Jäger and Nürnberger. Here we see Simon Zoller on the ball and Nürnberger jockeying him; as a result of this, Lucas Mühl to shift across. However, with the space vacated by Nürnberger, a quite interplay with Zoller and Anthony Losilla allows Chung-Yung Lee to exploit that space in behind. A perfectly weighted pass to Lee allows for a 3v3 situation in the final third.
We get another idea of these passing concepts in action but this time with great reward. This time we use the other wing with Danilo Soares and Danny Blum linking up. Jäger is indecisive whether to attack Soares or drop back into space, even with support from Hanno Behrens. Blum and Soares play a quick one-two and not does it take Jäger out of the fold, but Behrens is bypassed on the play.
The result of the play is Blum finding an unmarked Wintzheimer in the box and the striker makes it 3-0. This was a feature of Bochum’s game in the first half, and it was a joy to watch. Quick, short passes between the full-backs and wingers, drawing opponents out of position and exploiting those vacated space. Bochum took full advantage of these concepts and took full advantage on the scoreboard.
Dealing with crosses
While we rightfully praise the beautiful attacking football played by Bochum, there is still the lingering issues of the side’s defence. With a third of the season in the books, Bochum has conceded 25 goals this season which is equal worst in the league. One major issue has been the defending of crosses into the box, and once again they didn’t convince anybody that they have rectified these structural issues. Let’s have a look at how Bochum was made to pay for their inability to defend crosses into the box.
Nürnberg’s best opportunity came in the first half through Behrens; unsurprisingly it came from a cross into the box. Here Behrens is being tracked by Bella-Kotchap, but there is a sizeable gap between the pair. Kerk’s cross is perfect and favours the run of Behrens. It’s quite clear that Bochum plays man on man defensively, which makes it worse that Bella-Kotchap isn’t tight on Behrens. The opportunity goes by as Behrens misses, but it was a warning sign.
Similar to Hamburg defending set-pieces, it almost came as no surprise when Bochum inevitably conceded via a cross into the box. The match-up circled is Soares on Asger Sörensen. Soares is giving up 21 centimetres in height to the Nürnberg defender which tells you this is a missed assignment.
As a result, Sörensen beats Soares to the drop of the ball and scores past a stranded Manuel Riemann. With one game until the international break and a handful games until the winter break, Bochum needs to try something different. Whether that’s opting for more zonal marking in these kinds of situations or emphasizing dangerous aerial players from their opponents, it’s a lingering issue which will plague Bochum’s progression up the standings.
What can’t be understated is the importance of the win for trainer Reis and Bochum. With Wehen Wiesbaden’s draw to Hamburg, a win incredibly and they achieved that. They were the better side for long periods and besides the blip midway through the second half; it seemed inevitable that the three points would go their way.
It was another disappointing display by Nürnberg who once again looked out of ideas very early on. What seemed glaring is that the tactics implemented by Canadi may have seemed far to complex for his players. As a result, Canadi has been given the boot ahead of the international break with club legend Marek Mintal to take over on an interim basis.