After losing their first match of the season, Austria Vienna came into matchday two looking for a bounce-back against newly promoted side Ried. The away-side marked their return to the Austrian Bundesliga with a win through a controversial goal at the death. In this match, Austria Vienna secured a victory through two penalties, though conceding an own goal. In this tactical analysis, we will explore the offensive tactics of both sides. This analysis will also include a breakdown of Ried’s developing defensive strategy through the game.
Stoger lined up his side in a 4-3-3 with Patrick Pentz in goal. The back four comprised Christoph Martschinko at left-back, Manchester City youth player Erik Palmer-Brown and Michael Madl at centre-back, and Stephan Zwierschitz at right-back. Thomas Ebner played as defensive midfielder with Manprit Sarkaria and Alexander Grunwald, also in the midfield. Christoph Monschein led the front line with Patrick Wimmer on his left and new signing Georg Teigl, recently arriving from Augsburg of the German Bundesliga, on his right.
Baumgartner opted for a 5-3-2, somewhat like Sheffield United in the EPL, with Samuel Sahin-Radlinger as goalkeeper. Luca Meisl, Thomas Reifeltshammer, and Constantin Reiner played centre-back flanked by Manuel Kerhe and Michael Lercher as right and left wing-backs, respectively. Stefan Nutz joined Marcel Ziegl and Daniel Offenbacher in the midfield behind the striker pairing of Bernd Gschweidl and youngster Marco Grull.
Austria Vienna first-half attack
Stoger wanted his side to create overloads on either wing of attack through the 4-3-3 formation. Monschein had freedom to drift to the ball-side, while the midfield concentrated on the same side.
This image provides an example of an overload on the right side of the field. Furthest towards Austria Vienna’s own goal is Ebner who occupied the holding midfielder role during the first half. The remaining central midfielders Sarkaria and Grunwald move to the right to offer other options and draw defensive attention. Zwierschitz, on the ball, attracts a wide defender and opens space for Monschein and Teigl to run into. Monschein was a constant threat during this game as these overloads usually produced one-on-one situations with defenders. Teigl finds space in a wider position, hugging the sideline as he runs behind the Ried wing-back. The overload requires the defence to commit to certain marking decisions which generates open space for Austria Vienna exemplified here by runs from Monschein and Teigl.
One reason Austria Vienna attacked through either wing was the defensive shape of Ried throughout the match. Ried’s 5-3-2 stayed narrow during the first half which left large amounts of space for either Austria Vienna full-back to dribble into. Ebner received the ball infrequently during the first half because of this dynamic. Here, Stuttner drives deep into the Ried defence before receiving a challenge. The Austria Vienna full-back in these situations draws a challenge from either the wing-back or midfielder which creates pockets of space for a teammate.
This image precedes the first penalty goal from Austria Vienna. Starting on an overloaded side, Monschein steps up towards Sarkaria to receive a pass in between the Ried lines. His movement freezes Meisl. With Meisl unable to decide whether to track Monschein, Zwierschitz makes a run in the half-space between centre-back and wing-back. Monschein played a through ball to the right-back who crossed for a foul. Monschein played a critical role in orchestrating attacking actions for Austria Vienna within overloaded situations.
Ried’s defensive strategy
Ried was comfortable soaking up pressure during the first half, but when they started chasing goals, their pressing intensified out of the 5-3-2.
Here is their shape from a moment during the first half. As touched upon above, the structure was rigid during the opening minutes of the match. The strikers would not press either of the Austria Vienna centre-backs, and the back five maintained their line. Nutz puts pressure on Stuttner in this image, but often they would invite the full-backs to run deep into their defence. They wished to maintain compactness and break on the counter through the two strikers. However, once they went down one and then two goals, they became more aggressive on the defensive side of the ball.
While not a high-pressing system, Ried’s line in this image is evidently higher. Down two goals, Offenbacher and Murat Satin moved higher up the field to serve as pressing options if the ball would go to either full-back. Baumgartner kept his side in a defensive 5-3-2 until the last ten minutes of the game when Ried switched to a back four. Ried did not have the adequate number of players up the field to exert an effective press.
This “pressing” situation from Ried exemplifies the pressing issue. With a PPDA in the game of 19.9, Ried failed to unnerve Austria Vienna in any meaningful way. In the second half of this game, Austria Vienna switched to a 4-4-2 with two pivots. They outnumbered Ried while in possession. Here, Teigl for Austria Vienna, now at right-back, felt pressure from Lercher. Substitute striker Seth Paintsil cut off the pass back to the centre-back slightly while fellow substitute Markus Lackner came up to monitor a pass into Ebner. Instead, Teigl dribbled diagonally back and central to touch to an unmarked Grunwald in the other defensive midfield position. Ebner drifts into the space vacated by Teigl and Austria Vienna push up in attack. Ried did not commit enough players to press well during the second half of this game.
Austria Vienna changing tactics
Stoger made a half-time substitute to change the shape of his squad. Zwierschitz left the game early, replaced by Benedikt Pichler. Pichler joined Monschein to create a front two while Teigl moved to right-back in a new 4-4-2.
With the new formation, Austria Vienna had more options while building from the back. As Ried pushed for goals towards the end of the game, they were less willing to let the Austria Vienna full-backs run into space. Now, the Austria Vienna centre-backs had two outlets in the midfield. Ebner changed his position slightly by moving further up while Grunwald played as the deepest midfielder. Their vertical positioning provided options for the buildup, whether the centre-back or full-back has the ball. This change makes it significantly harder to press Austria Vienna as well with just a front two as discussed above. The Ried strikers and midfield could not mark each of Austria Vienna’s deeper-lying pieces without giving up huge passing lanes to one of the advanced midfielders or the striker.
The Violets created overloads out of the 4-4-2 like they did in the first half. Monschein moved into the space between lines like he did in one of the earlier images. Meisl committed to chasing Monschein here, leaving fields of space behind into which both Austria Vienna strikers run. Sarkaria received the Monschein pass in a separate vertical lane as Teigl. It is important to maintain different positions in these lanes to give the option for a diversity of passes. Teigl is in a better position to play a ball through one of the half-spaces while Sarkaria can better play a pass outside the wing-back. The overloads create constant threats to carve the defence.
In their new formation, Austria Vienna would transform into a 2-4-4 when attacking. The wide midfield duo of Sarkaria and Sax came level with the striker pairing to offer options in behind. The full-backs pushed up in line with the two holding midfielders to create the second line. As the back five of Ried tracked the various runs of Austria Vienna attackers, the home-side midfielders had more space to operate and created overloads by shifting from side to side. Stoger gave Sarkaria and Sax freedom to move around from their initial positions to receive and play passes into the strikers. Ebner and Grunwald provide defensive cover for their side against transitions. The tactical change in the second half maintained the same attacking strategy from the first half while providing more cover and options in the buildup.
Ried in possession
Baumgartner’s side did not create much offence through the central lanes of the field. They relied on direct actions between the defensive line and strikers to create chances.
In the first half, Ried attacked with limited numbers to avoid exposure at the back. Here, Nutz is the only player to join Gschweidl and Grull in the attack. This trio served as the only spark during the first half; Ried tallied .21 xG in the first half from a single blocked shot by Nutz. Through direct balls like in the picture above, Baumgartner hoped a limited attack could create advantage situations with little support. They have the talent to score goals, but their first half performance reflected the opposite.
One more picture emphasizes the reservations Ried had to push numbers forward. As Lercher prepared to cross into the box, only the trio mentioned above occupied a threatening area. Nutz found space running behind the strikers who occupied the Austria Vienna centre-backs. They remained in central positions to make opportunities in central pockets of space. Instead of drawing defensive attention from full-backs or a midfielder, the three Ried attackers only engaged the centre-backs. In theory, this creates a three-on-two advantage in the most dangerous area of the field. However, the Austria Vienna defence can adjust quickly because there are no other threats to focus on.
In the second half, Paintsil and Satin replaced Gschweidl and Nutz. Despite the changes, Ried’s tactics stayed mostly the same. Here, Paintsil backs down a defender before playing back to Satin to start a counterattack. The away-side pushed more numbers in attack during the second half, but the strikers were still catalysts for most attacks. They would receive balls from either the wing-backs or centre-backs, and the strikers had the responsibility to get the midfielders involved.
During the dying minutes of the game, Baumgartner subbed on one last attacker to create a front line of three and spread the back four of Austria Vienna. Scorer of the winner in matchday one, Valentin Grubeck formed the spear of a new front three as seen in the picture above. While more of a desperate attempt for a goal, this new front three was much more effective in creating chances. The three Ried forwards could manipulate the defence to greater effect, creating chances for each other. An earlier change to Baumgartner’s reserved offence could have been more fruitful for Ried.
Austria Vienna offensive plan to create overloads worked well despite the two goals coming from penalties. Monschein remained a threat for his side as they dominated possession against the Ried defence. As they chased the game, Ried took the initiative in attack, but they still relied too heavily on the strikers for chances.