At the end of a tight end to the season, league leaders Ried took on Floridsdorfer on the last matchday of the Austrian Second Division. Both teams needed the points. Ried entered the game level on points with Klagenfurt at the top of the table. Floridsdorfer was level with Horn at the opposite end of the table, requiring a couple more goals to find safety. Instead of a tight thriller, Ried produced a dominant 9-0 performance to claim the title.
This tactical analysis will look at the tactics of either side throughout this lopsided affair. The analysis will explore Ried’s buildup, their set-pieces, and Floridsdorfer’s struggles in possession.
Gerald Baumgartner set up Ried in a 4-4-2 diamond (similar to the EPL side Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino). In goal was the mostly unbothered Filip Dmitrovic, protected by the centre-back pairing of Constantin Reiner and Kennedy Boateng. Balakiyem Takougnadi slotted in at left-back with Manuel Kerhe finishing the defence. Marcel Ziegl played at the base of the midfield diamond with Julian Wiessmeier and Valentin Grubeck on the right and left, respectively. Stefan Nutz finished the midfield, playing behind the strike pair of Marco Grull and Bernd Gschweidl.
Aleksandr Gitsov organized Floridsdorfer in a 4-4-2 with Belmin Jenciragic in between the sticks. The defense comprised Stefan Umjenovic at left-back, Tin Plavotic and Christian Bubalovic at centre-back, and Bernhard Fila at right-back. Tolga Gunes and Abdelrahman Shousha made appearances in the outside of the midfield. The two central midfielders for Floridsdorfer were Marco Krainz and Burak Yilmaz. Fitting in above them were Milan Jurdik and Adolphe Belem, now a free agent like Edinson Cavani of PSG.
While Baumgartner set Ried up in 4-3-1-2/4-4-2 diamond, this would shift while the home side was in possession. The two centre-backs Boateng and Reiner would move wide, allowing Ziegl to drop deep into a back three. This allowed the full-backs to push further forwards, creating more of a 3-4-1-2.
This picture from early in the game captures the Ried midfield and defence. Each player in the line of four occupies different spaces of the opposing midfield line. Any of these players may drop deeper at a point to provide an option for the centre-backs to pass to. The benefit of playing a back three against two strikers lies in the passing lanes. With the two midfielders from the diamond dropping deeper to fill the pivot position, it is extraordinarily difficult for two strikers to cut off every line of passing.
This image helps display the difficulty Floridsdorfer (blue) would have pressing on any average possession. As the right centre-back receives the ball, the blue strikers would push up to pressure the ball carrier and adjacent centre-back. The blue outside midfielder pushes up to mark the red right-back, putting the blue central midfielders in a tough spot. The opposing central midfielders occupy deeper spots, so marking them would require a high line. This would leave the blue defence open to long balls or a pass into the free-roaming attacking midfielder, Nutz the case for Ried. The dashed lines in the image above show the options available to the centre-back on the ball. Baumgartner has set up his side well to deal with pressing with Floridsdorfer only managing 29.3 Passes Allowed per Defensive Action (PPDA).
Although Ried did not attack much on either wing, they could still create opportunities in these areas. The 3-4-1-2 setup of Ried can help explain the overload above. The right-back position (bottom and central) is occupied by Wiessmeier, who preferred a more defensive position despite scoring three goals. His position allows Kerhe to push up into the final third; pictured above on the far right, he spots Ziegl running forward to aid the attack. Grull occupies Plavotic in the striker’s normal positioning. This leaves Nutz free space to run into between the left-back and centre-back of Floridsdorfer. Wiessmeier and Kerhe interchange positions for this possession while Nutz roaming ball-side helped create this opportunity.
Moving now to the top of Ried’s formation, the two strikers and attacking midfielders played huge roles in creating dangerous opportunities. With 56% of attacks coming through the centre, the home side heavily relied on their front three for creativity in the final third.
This is one sequence that provides a snapshot of how the trio operated. Grull drops slightly deeper than Gschweidl to receive a pass from the midfield. Grull passes the ball with his first touch back to Nutz in the attacking midfield in between lines. While Floridsdorfer’s defence is not entirely set, the space in between the lines opens up angles and passing lanes for Nutz to play in either of the strikers or other forward players.
This image provides another example of this movement. Gschweidl receives the ball right in line with the Flordisdorfer defence before laying it off to Nutz, making a diagonal run across the field. One player occupies each line but still progresses the ball up the field despite the absence of teammates This give-and-go movement helps move the ball as if a direct pass was made, even though the angle may be cut out.
This image displays one last example of this towards the end of this game. This picture best illustrates the magnetism and space the advanced player creates. It does not have to be a striker either. Grubeck serves as a backboard to lay the ball off to substitute Jefte Betancor. The midfielder receives the ball in the half-space between the opponent centre-back and right-back. While he only touches the ball for a second, he draws in multiple players leaving Betancor space to get off an open shot. It was little interplays like this which Ried thrived on during the game in the final third.
Ried scored two goals off corners in this game, both on similar set-piece plays. Floridsdorfer had trouble marking their opponents during the game, and the first corner goal exacerbated this problem.
Ried in the match favored the in-swinger, no different in this picture. With Nutz the taker, most Ried clustered around the area in between the near post and goalkeeper. Nutz targets the corner to the back post with the towering 197 cm Reiner running that direction. In the example above, the centre-back cut towards the crowd before moving back to the far post. He is not the receiver of this cross as it is Wiessmeier who drifts from the crowd to head the ball in from close range. He escapes his marker in the scramble and comes up with the second goal of the game.
This is another example of the same setup. The pictures are almost identical, this one not leading to a goal. Reiner in this play gets a head to the ball but directs it over the bar. He goes with the same move as above, cutting towards the near post before shifting position to the opposite side. If the delivery was slightly shorter, Wiessmeier may have gotten another goal. The coordinated movements from the players in front of goal cover up the midfielder’s activity. Ried opted for this set-piece play twice, managing a goal and a misplaced header.
This corner play is a little different. Instead of clustering by the near post, the Ried players line up just outside the six-yard box. Grubeck starts first, running around the stack towards the near post. He takes the primary attention while Reiner attempts to lose his marker in a run to the back post. Takougnadi’s in-swinger does not pass the front line of Floridsdorfer defence, but Reiner got free at the back post.
In the final variation on Ried’s corner, I bet you can guess the target for the play. The clustering near the goal reflects corners from earlier in the match, but it is now Mario Vojkovic who takes Reiner’s spot outside the six-yard box. Differently, Vojkovic runs towards the near post, as do all but two of his teammates. Betancor, starting at the back post, sets a screen for Reiner’s man. Reiner fakes towards the near post before using the pick well to get free. Betancor retreats from close to goal as Reiner heads freely into the goalmouth to be finished by Grubeck. The creativity in corner plays maximizes the physical advantages Reiner gives Ried. They get the best goal production off corners through each of these plays with an xG of .59 from their six corners in the match.
It is an understatement to say Floridsdorfer struggled in this game. While the 9-0 scoreline may be extreme, they certainly did not play well. A red card for Bubalovic in the second half stressed the floundering side, but the problems in their buildup came before this.
As can be seen in the average positions of the Floridsdorfer squad, they did not play in the 4-4-2 stated in the lineups. The midfield duo lined up vertically instead of horizontally, Krainz serving as the deeper pivot and Yilmaz slightly more advanced. Instead of balancing the side, this tactical decision isolated the defence in the face of a tough Ried press.
This first image provides a diagram for Ried’s press. As the ball reaches the sideline, the midfield and strikers of Ried push to cut off circulation. Grubeck presses the ball as Grull prevents a back pass to the right centre-back Bubalovic. Nutz at the top point of the midfield diamond works to simultaneously cut off the passing lane to the pivot and press the ball-carrier. Wiessmeier and Ziegl migrate out of position to further cut out any other options in the midfield. With Takougnadi pushing up against the Shousha on the sideline, Fila must play a risky short ball or a long ball.
A second pressing instance for Ried leads directly to a goal from the mistake of Fila. Following the kickoff, Floridsdorfer swings the ball from left to right. Once the ball reaches the feet of Fila, Ried’s press is in full force. Grubeck cuts off the full-back option while Grull puts pressure on the ball. Betancor looks to cut off the passing lane to the goalkeeper as Nutz marks the pivot. Fila forces a long ball cross-field that comes directly to the feet of Wiessmeier in a dangerous position. While Ried got a goal from this error, Fila made the correct decision based on earlier breaks. The space was usually available on the switch; the cross-field ball was not good enough here.
This picture provides better visualization of the vacant space on the far side. Yilmaz receives a pass from his midfield partner Krainz that sends him out wide. Ried players occupy only the part of the field above the yellow line. With the formation compact on that side, Yilmaz plays a switch to Fila. The right-back has plenty of space to run into, allowing Floridsdorfer to push up in possession. Moments like this were rare, but when they were some of the most threatening for the away team.
This final picture is an ending note to Floridsdorfer’s buildup woes. Using only one pivot, it was far too easy for Ried to suffocate the defence. This image shows Umjenovic playing an easy pass into Yilmaz. The left-back gets rid of the ball before Ried can cut off any passing lanes. The option into Yilmaz was not usually available because the midfielder was usually playing too far up the field. Analysis from above explained the dire need for extra support, so Yilmaz coming deeper more often could have potentially eliminated some of the Floridsdorfer issues.
Ried combined creative set-piece design with competent tactics to produce a stellar performance against a hapless Floridsdorfer. This analysis investigated the ways Ried succeeded and Floridsdorfer failed in one of the most pivotal games of the Austrian Second Division.
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