Sandhausen hoped to add another high profile scalp this season when they welcomed Hamburger SV to the BWT Stadium on Hartwald. The hosts had been exceeding expectations with a stable position within the top half of the table; they come in on the back of a 1-1 draw at bottom-placed Dynamo Dresden. Hamburg’s form has stagnated somewhat, only one win in their last five. They enter on the back of a home defeat to Heidenheim.
This tactical analysis takes a look at this intriguing 2. Bundesliga battle which saw Hamburg come from behind to secure a point in Baden-Württemberg.
Coming off a draw on matchday 16, Uwe Koschinat made just two changes. Goalscorer Robin Scheu missed due to injury while Sören Dieckmann was dropped. In their place came in Marlon Frey and Leon Paqarada.
Dieter Hecking made several changes from the side that succumbed to defeat to Heidenheim. Sonny Kittel and Adrian Fein were dropped to the bench while Rick van Drongelen was a massive out, he misses due to suspension. It was a Hamburg debut for defender Ewerton who joined from Nürnberg in the summer. Gideon Jung and Lukas Hinterseer also return to the starting lineup.
Does the narrative remain the same?
As has been mentioned on multiple occasions over the past 18 months, Hamburg has a deficiency when it comes to set-piece defending. While this season they hadn’t conceded as many as this time last season, Hamburg has been fortunate to have only conceded five goals from set-pieces so far. However, on this occasion, the opening goal of the game came a corner. Let’s revisit Hamburg’s set-piece defending and how the narrative remains the same.
The first situation looks at Hamburg’s structure within the set-piece phase and how Sandhausen had every opportunity to retake the lead. From a structural standpoint, Hamburg are playing man-to-man outside the six-yard box. Every Hamburg player in that area is marked tightly. They’ve put in extra work on Kevin Behrens who is marked by two Hamburg players. As highlighted, Paqarada looks to play the ball on the edge of the six-yard. This corner resulted in a Behrens miss, but he could get goal-side and beat his opponent, which allowed the opportunity to materialise.
The final scenario is the goal scored by Aleksander Zhirov and how he was able to score Sandhausen’s 7th goal from set-pieces while contributing to another set-piece concession for Hamburg. Much like the example above, every Sandhausen player inside the six-yard is being marked. Paqarada is seeking the area where the keeper is forced to remain on his line and where a Sandhausen player can have a more significant influence on the play.
Zhirov simply outmuscles and outworks Ewerton to the position of the ball to score the opening goal past Daniel Heuer Fernandes. It would seem that the mental concentration when it comes to defending set-pieces varies for Hamburg; however, it’s evident that this is an area that needs to be continuously worked on.
Sandhausen’s defensive structure
Sandhausen are typically a side with a strong defensive mentality; this peaked under Kenan Kocack who had Sandhausen as one of the best defensive sides in the league. Koschinat was brought in to improve the teams attacking output, while that hasn’t translated with Sandhausen managing just 18 goals before this match. The defence has remained the focal point of the sides ethos. This section looks at how Sandhausen’s defensive tactics.
The first scenario is quite impressive, and it was something quite noticeable throughout the first half. As we see, the structure is 4-3-3 with Besar Halimi pushing up along the two strikers to help pressing when Hamburg bring possession closer to halfway. The real highlight is the space between centre-back Zhirov and right-back Dennis Diekmeier. In Aussie Rules terms, Diekmeier is tagging Bakary Jatta, which allows for the vast space between himself and Zhirov. When Hamburg overlap, Diekmeier remains glued to Jatta while Marlon Frey tucks in.
Later on in the game, we see the same principles applied when Hamburg enter the final third. However, this time the structure defensively is very much man-to-man. The objective is to try and pin Hamburg down and win possession back. The only fundamental issue is that Hamburg has a free bailout towards the by-line, which allows for a ball to play inside the area.
The interesting take away from Sandhausen’s defensive structure is that its fluid, relies on Diekmeier locking down his wing and that man-to-man becomes more prevalent the deeper their opponents attack. Even with the last image, at 1-1 it is good to see Sandhausen keep the two strikers up top rather than dropping them deeper into defensive coverage.
Hamburg’s use of attacking full-backs
With several injuries Hamburg have within their defence and a lean amount of full-backs at their disposal. Hecking has been forced to be creative by using attacking winger Khaled Narey at right-back. This is a role Narey has played before at has time at Greuther Fürth, but also on many occasions last season. While at times Narey can be a liability defensively, his quickness makes him an asset when Hamburg go forward.
As shown above, Hamburg utilised the right flank 43% of the time in attack with a combination of Narey and Martin Harnik. This allowing for additional numbers going forward and creating favourable weight of number situations. This part of the analysis looks to showcase how Hamburg was able to use the flanks going forward.
We see this late in the game with Hamburg looking to find the go-ahead goal. With Lukas Hinterseer coming to collect and Harnik being more central, Narey can become more inclusive in the attack. It’s his ball which plays Hinterseer into space. Up top and out of the picture is left-back Tim Leibold. Known for joining the rush, he allows for an option at the back post if the ball into the middle is off-target. What was a 7v8 situation can then become and 8v8 attack.
While the right-back was heavily used going forward, Hamburg still had success through the Leibold/Jatta complex. Here, the same principles apply with Leibold on the ball; Jatta can make the run out wide. This can free up the middle for Leibold to play to either Hinterseer or Aaron Hunt. Like the initial situation, Narey at the top of the picture and can be used as the cover for an errant cross or an option at the back post.
It’s exciting to see the full-backs make attacking runs in possession or creating a new number in the attack. It helps when you have a side like Sandhausen who drop eight back and try to squeeze you out wide.
The name above may be new to some, but Martin Fraisl has been superb in his debut 2. Bundesliga campaign with Sandhausen. Fraisl spent the last few seasons Romanian first-tier club FC Botosani before joining Sandhausen after predecessor Marcel Schuhen left for Darmstadt. The Austrian has mostly impressed under Koschinat; let us see what has made Fraisl so reliable in goal for Sandhausen.
Fraisl’s first bit of action came early in the first half as we see how he deals with a cross from the edge of the area. From a technical standpoint, Fraisl is positioned well with his body open for any potential situation. Not tucked on his line and can be proactive to any cross towards the near post nor any possible shots from Leibold.
Leibold plays the ball to the back post to Harnik, Fraisl is quick to cover most of his near post and dispels the danger. You’d like to see Fraisl a foot or two forward from his position when Harnik takes the shot. What’s being meant is that if Harnik generates enough power at Fraisl, the opportunity of the keeper parrying the ball into his net is highly possible. By being forward and closing down the angles, you negate that possibility.
The final situation comes late in the game where Fraisl makes a great reactionary save to keep the scores level. Hinterseer’s driven shot is parried over the bar. What’s impressive about this save is the ability to get the ball out of play from virtually ground level. Takes quite a lot of skill and technique to achieve this. However, like the first scenario, you’d like Fraisl to be a couple of steps forward to make the goal smaller for Hinterseer.
While conditions weren’t favourable for the goalkeepers, Fraisl produced another strong performance between the sticks for Sandhausen. While we’ve shown situations where he has been called into action and perhaps some positional adjustments, it’s evident that Fraisl has been a fantastic shot-stopper for Sandhausen this season.
It’s another what could’ve been a fixture for Hamburg who failed to convert multiple chances in this game. With Sandhausen holding on, Hamburg just couldn’t break down the resilient defence. As we reach the midway point of the season, Hamburg are second, level on points with Stuttgart. They won’t be top heading into the winter break. Sandhausen have shown these kinds of gutsy performances against high-quality opponents. A side with fantastic team defence and efficiency going forward helped them secure a hard-earned point.