Bundesliga 2021-22 Matchday 3 – Tactical Review

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The Bundesliga continues to entertain as ever, with intriguing tactics as the managerial merry go round of last year settles down to a simmer. Matchday 3 saw Wolfsburg come out on top in a crucial match against Leipzig, Bayern smash Hertha Berlin and a fast-paced five goal thriller between Freiburg and Stuttgart. Here is our tactical review of some of the key matches.

wolfsburg 1-0 leipzig

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Wolfsburg and Leipzig, two of the top teams in the league, showcased exactly why they are both so highly rated on Sunday, playing out a tight and testy battle. It ended with the Wolves coming out on top, with a surprise scorer in Jerome Roussillon, while die Roten Bullen couldn’t find a way past Wolfsburg’s excellently organized defense.

Both sides set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, both very rigid and organized. The pair of teams found it difficult to break down the other and break the deadlock, but it was Wolfsburg who disrupted more of Leipzig’s overall play and attempts. It was also Wolfsburg who grabbed the go-ahead goal, despite Leipzig ending with more possession, duels won, and shots. One of the major reasons for that was Wolfsburg’s tactical fouling and aggressive play, which completely disrupted Marsch’s men from gaining rhythm. While they were compact in defense and left little room in between the lines, die Roten Bullen also made Wolfsburg’s job easier, by themselves being too compact in attack.

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Leipzig’s play through the lines was phenomenal last week against Stuttgart, but this time they couldn’t find a way in between Wolfsburg’s stellar spine. Between Casteels, Brooks, Lacroix, Schlager, Arnold and Weghorst, Wolfsburg have one hell of a team compacting central areas. It’s no wonder why they then normally play so vertical in attack. However, this time that was completely different. Van Bommel’s team played with width and a greater proportion of diagonal long passes into the wide areas than their other matches so far. This proved an effective approach against a possession-based Leipzig, and aided Wolfsburg’s natural physicality. While they couldn’t get the right service to Wout Weghorst, the big man up top was still a handful and made Mohamed Simakan’s evening particularly eventful.

Leipzig on the other hand played as you would expect, pressing to win the ball back, and keeping possession through close proximity between the lines. They were able to create a few more shooting opportunities than the Wolves, but many of these were from distance, and all were ineffective. Wolfsburg’s study defense and solid mix of patience and pain ultimately killed Leipzig’s chances of gaining a foothold, and the game ended comfortably for Wolfsburg at 1-0.

vFB STUTTGART 2-3 SC FREIBURG

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In one of the games of the Bundesliga season so far, SC Freiburg held onto their narrow lead over VfB Stuttgart, grinding out an important result that sees them enter the top four – ahead of Borussia Dortmund.

Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side set up in a 3-5-2 formation, playing high tempo football. Die Schwaben kept the play moving quickly and well, building out from the back in a shape resembling a 3-1-3-3. Wataru Endo was almost always the deepest of the midfield three, dropping toward the back-line to receive in between the lines, and driving the play from deep. Endo’s engine and energy was a significant positive for Stuttgart despite the loss, and a major reason why they were able to keep the game flowing with the bulk of the possession in their favour.

Beyond positive possession utilizing quick passing and limited touches in between, Matarazzo’s team emphasized switches to their left-side, with Borna Sosa playing an important role. There were a few brilliant one-touch moments between the lines and some excellent link up play from Hamadi Al Ghaddioui up top, but Stuttgart could have gone wide to Sosa and Massimo more often.

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Out of possession, Stuttgart were also lively and energetic. They pressed from the front vigorously, and tried to limit Freiburg’s attempts to play long down the wide areas whenever they could. While it was vigorous, their press was perhaps sometimes too open and individualistic – meaning their diamonds were never compact enough.

For all of Stuttgart’s street-like football and fun connections, Freiburg completely grinded their way to the win through hard work and determination. They kept just 35% of the possession, instead looking to remain compact and hit Stuttgart on the break through powerful running. Unfortunately for Die Schwaben, Freiburg were absolutely deadly on the break, and deadly with their finishing. Jeong Woo-Yeong’s early goals essentially killed the game off, and made Stuttgart’s job all the more difficult. From there, Freiburg were able to sit back and defend more than they might have otherwise been, and were able to grind out the result.

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In attack, Freiburg played with width and looked to deliver from both sides. Christian Gunter’s cross for the first goal was absolutely sublime, while Roland Sallai’s cross for the third was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Freiburg’s movement into the box excellently complimented the sublime deliveries, as did their finishing in front of goal. Verticality and counter attacking was another key for Christian Streich’s team, and Maximilian Eggestein flourished in central areas after coming on in the second half. Freiburg also at times matched Stuttgart’s intensity in the press, and even at times their desire to play out from the back. They were successful in limiting Freiburg’s progression through the thirds, compacting the pitch with nearly every single player around the ball and on the same side of the field. Stuttgart’s excellent passing sequences caught them off guard not once but twice toward the end of the first half, reducing their three goal lead to just one. Fortunately, that didn’t matter one bit, and Freiburg claimed the victory.

borussia dortmund 3-2 1899 hoffenheim

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The Black & Yellows grinded out another hard-fought win over 1899 Hoffenheim on Friday August 27, keeping up their unbeaten run, but the team’s defensive struggles persist. While Marco Rose has been innovative in his time so far at Borussia Dortmund, he hasn’t fixed Dortmund’s major holes under previous managers, particularly the ones that Edin Terzic was doing so well to change last season.

Dortmund’s defending from free kicks and corners has been abysmal for quite some time now, and was the major crux in the team during Edin Terzic’s shaky first couple of months in charge himself. Their marking is often too tight, and they don’t have enough players capable and strong enough to win headers. Dortmund also often get caught ball watching, which means flick on’s to players in behind often get finished off. That’s exactly what happened against Hoffenheim as Dortmund allowed them back into the game.

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Fortunately for Dortmund, they have a few clinical youngsters who were absolutely on top of their game on Friday. The most notable performer was Jude Bellingham, who buzzed around the pitch in his position as the right-central midfielder in a 4-3-1-2, completely outnumbering Hoffenheim’s 4-2-3-1 in midfield areas. Dortmund continued the principles of play they’ve shown in other weeks, including, unfortunately, Mahmoud Dahoud needing to cover all the ground on his own in defensive transitions. With a slow defense and a reasonably slow defensive midfielder, Dortmund have been absolutely dreadful in transition since the start of the season. Unfortunately, they’ve just sold a potential fix in Thomas Delaney, leaving them without one of their only capable midfield engines in that regard. Much is needing to be fixed, and so far Rose has shown an unwillingness to change Dortmund’s greatest concerns.

more to follow…


So there it is! A tactical review of Matchday 3 in the Bundesliga! Be sure to follow the social media links below, and subscribe to never miss an update. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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Kamal Miller – Player Analysis

Canadian footballers operating in the MLS have been notoriously underrated over the years, but now with the nation putting themselves on the world stage, clubs across the globe should start to pay more attention to our greatest players. One of those who has announced himself on the grandest stage is CF Montreal’s Kamal Miller. Miller’s been arguably Canada’s best defender across the two opening group stage matches at the 2022 World Cup, serving as a nice compliment to his defensive partner Steven Vitoria at the back. With a range of qualities on and off the ball, Miller could easily be playing for a club in Europe’s top five leagues already. So with that, we aim to strengthen Miller’s case for a move across the pond.

How Ecuador beat Qatar – World Cup 2022 – Match Analysis

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has officially kicked off, with Ecuador rocking Qatar’s world and walking to a 2-0 win. Boasting 53% of the possession and outclassing the hosts every step of the way, Ecuador were utterly dominant from start to finish, against the shaky Qatar defense that looked perplexed and out of solutions in handling the energy from Gustavo Alfaro’s men. Here is our analysis of the opening match to this 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and how Ecuador easily beat the tournament hosts.

Breaking down Canada’s 2022 World Cup Squad

Canada has officially announced the squad for their first World Cup since 1986, and fans of Canadian soccer will be happy to hear that all of the big names have made the cut. Doneil Henry serves as the only major omission after his latest injury set-back, but even he appears to be set to join the squad in Qatar from the sidelines. So with that, we break down John Herdman’s squad heading into a historic World Cup, and what to expect from the Canadians in Qatar.

Stephen Eustáquio – Player Analysis

On March 27, 2022, Canada qualified for the World Cup, for the first time since 1986. The likes of Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies evidently played their part, but perhaps no man was more key to Canada’s success in the lead-up to World Cup Qualification than the beating heart in Herdman’s midfield – Stephen Eustáquio. Now an FC Porto regular playing week in and week out in the Champions League, the 25-year-old will be integral to Canada’s success at the upcoming tournament. Here is our analysis of Stephen Eustáquio, and why he’s prepared to play a pivotal role for Canada at the 2022 World Cup.

Game of Numbers #10 – Thuram’s Tormenting Transitions

Daniel Farke’s men completely outclassed Dortmund on the break, particularly via the use of quick play through the vertical channels. The man that led that entire process was none other than Marcus Thuram – who recently featured in our ‘Direct Goal-Scorer’ breakdown. Thuram’s a quintessential model of the role, as someone who constantly endeavours to run behind an opposition defense. He’s the first outlet in transition, and this makes him absolutely integral to the team given that much of Monchengladbach’s brilliance this season has come on the counter. Combine that with Dortmund’s own problems at the back and the strange omission of their best transitional warrior, and Edin Terzic set his team up for a disaster.

Explaining the Direct Goal-Scorer – Player Role Analysis

When on their day, ‘Direct Goal-Scorers’ can be some of the most entertaining footballers to watch, with a sense of raw intensity beating inside their heart every step of the way. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has shown everyone exactly that this season at Serie A leaders Napoli, but the likes of Sadio Mané and Serge Gnabry have demonstrated their goal-scoring exploits for years.

Alessandro Hojabrpour – Player Analysis

Alessandro Hojabrpour has been one of the standout performers of the past two seasons in the Canadian Premier League. Playing in an understated defensive midfield role where he’s required to proactively participate in all phases of the game, Hojabpour has also been a name that has gone relatively unnoticed when compared to some of his CPL peers. At 22 years of age, with the maturity of someone in their mid-twenties, Hojabrpour should be on the radar of every single MLS club, and soon enough on the radar of our national team. Here is my analysis of the remarkabilities to Alessandro Hojabrpour in 2022, and why he’s one of the best midfielders that Canada has to offer.

Game of Numbers #9 – Moukoko Madness

In our latest analysis series: Game of Numbers, we break down the various tactical undertones of the modern game, most notably the individual roles that players fulfill to help their teams achieve success. This is Issue No. 9, featuring tactical discussions around two of the Bundesliga’s top prospects – Youssoufa Moukoko and Christopher Nkunku.

Coaching Philosophies Guide

Struggling to know how to communicate your ideas about the game in a succinct format? Our ‘Coaching Philosophies Guide’ will help you to know what you need to consider when building the perfect team environment, and will allow you to nail down your thoughts about how and who you want to be as a coach.

Our guide comes with my own Coaching Philosophies as an example for how you can structure your own. This can be purchased for just $2.99, as part of our continued attempt to make our content as accessible as possible.

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