TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – Match Report vs Hertha Berlin 16/05/20

This is a guest post from Tom Walker.

Hoffenheim switched between as 4-2-4 and a 4-2-3-1, with the wingers given the license to push as high as they wanted, and Baumgartner playing as a second striker. In the attacking phase, the four up top were allowed to rotate freely to confuse the defence, which resulted in some good opportunities. The threat of a counterattack was always present with so many players finding themselves high up the pitch, and Hertha had a few good chances in the first half capitalising on that. The combination play from deep was slick at times, but they were never able to benefit from it as attacks often just fizzled out due to sloppiness with the final ball. In the second half, Hertha begin to dominate the ball more, targeting Hoffenheim’s right side. The effects of not playing for so long were definitely evident, with fatigue and lapses in concentration a large factor in Hoffenheim’s general play in the second half. Hertha Berlin took their chances, with the match ending 3-0.

Ratings

A1 – Very good, could play higher
A2 – Strong potential to play higher
B1 – Good, strong player at level
B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
C – Average for the level, rewatch
D – Below average, don’t follow up

Florian Grillitsch 

Player Profile:

Nationality: Austrian 
Age: 24
Date of birth: 07/08/1995
Current Club: Hoffenheim 
Career: Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim
Position: Defensive Midfield 
Secondary Position: Central Midfield
Preferred foot: Right

Grillitsch proved to be one of the only positives Hoffenheim could withdraw from this game. The Austrian international had the most touches, passes, tackles and interceptions in his team. His composure on the ball stood out, and him and Sebastian Rudy looked like an efficient pairing before the German was subbed off injured in the second half. 

In this game he was constantly relied upon as an outlet from goal kicks and was the main source of ball progression from deep. Hoffenheim’s somewhat fluid system allowed him to drift all over to receive the ball, which was particularly helpful on the left side, where the aforementioned Posch’s ability on the ball was an issue. 

His reading of the game was also reflected in his defensive contribution, where he was actively blocking passing lanes, snuffing out through balls (three interceptions) as well as regaining possession himself, making six tackles. Grillitsch embodies what the modern defensive midfielder should look like. He possesses a great tactical understanding, a solid physical stature and displays an array of different passes.

Rating – A2

Stefan Posch

Player Profile:

Nationality: Austrian 
Age: 23
Date of birth: 14/04/1997
Current Club: Hoffenheim 
Career: Hoffenheim 
Position: Centre Back
Secondary Position: Full Back
Preferred foot: Right

Posch is a physically imposing presence on attackers at 6’2” and on the defensive end he generally held his own throughout the game. Today he was positioned as a left back in the back four. He made two standout interceptions in the first half to deny Hertha Berlin two 1v1 opportunities with the goalkeeper. His defensive positioning and awareness were sound, and as a consequence Hertha switched their attention to the left side in the attacking phase, where all three goals eventually came from.

However, going forward was a clear issue for the Austrian. He never looked comfortable with the ball in the final third, opting out of putting crosses in and being extremely reluctant to take any defender on. Playing on the left side was a glaring issue as he constantly looked to shift the ball onto his right, hindering any sort of momentum.

His passing was extremely conservative, only attempting two long balls throughout the game and of his overall 33 passes, only had a pass accuracy of 68%, losing the ball sloppily at times.

Rating – B2

Robert Skov 

Player Profile:

Nationality: Danish 
Age: 23
Date of birth: 20/04/1997
Current Club: Hoffenheim 
Career: Silkeborg, Copenhagen, Hoffenheim
Position: Right Winger
Secondary Position: Left Back
Preferred foot: Left

Playing on the right wing he struggled to have an impact in attack. He does not possess the pace to cause any trouble on the wing, nor the trickiness to cut inside onto his stronger foot and work in the decreased space. His deliveries from set pieces were decent, but in open play he only completed one accurate cross from six attempts.

There were signs of the movement more indicative of his usual intelligent runs, but they were passed up on by the midfielders. The shot location of all his attempts were in favourable range, around the left side of the penalty box, however all of them were nullified by the mass arrangement of Hertha players around him.  

His defensive contribution was minimal which was exploited by Hertha who looked to penetrate their left side and resulted in all three goals originating from that area.

Rating – C

Christoph Baumgartner

Player Profile:

Nationality: Austrian 
Age: 20
Date of birth: 01/08/1999
Current Club: Hoffenheim 
Career: Silkeborg, Copenhagen, Hoffenheim
Position: Striker
Secondary Position: Attacking Midfield
Preferred foot: Right

Baumgartner was given a lot of freedom in his role which he used to drift both wide and deep to get on the ball, as well as moving right alongside Bebuo in the first half. His technical quality was inconsistent, yet evident, displaying a few nice touches.

His off the ball movement in the final third was extremely impressive, shifting off his markers with his nimble frame, to find open spaces to receive the ball. Finishing is the one thing that let him down in this game, but despite not being able to convert his three great chances, it did demonstrate his ability to recognise good scoring positions.

Baumgartner wants to influence the play in the attacking phase in anyway he can. That included dropping deep to receive the ball, but more favourably by attacking defenders by dribbling. On a few occasions he caused the Hertha defenders some problems with his dribbling, using his low centre of gravity to change direction quickly and utilising his quick feet to shift the ball past them.

He very rarely had to press as Hoffenheim were happy to let Hertha’s centre backs have the ball which proved successful in the first half. In the second, his defensive effort had to step up which clearly took its toll physically as he went down with cramp at the 65-minute mark. 

Rating – B1

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