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. Here is our analysis of the match!
STUTTGART – 3-5-2
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. Philipp Klement also looked positive alongside Endo, also dropping toward the ball during build-up phases, and sometimes coming even deeper as Endo drifted higher.
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. Not only is the Croatian wing-back solid on the ball and good with his delivery, he’s also clever and quick, making him a difficult player to stop. In truth however, Freiburg dealt with him well and limited his activity. Stuttgart also limited themselves in this approach, instead attempting to play through the thirds – where Freiburg had intentionally compacted the field. 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.
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. Their diamonds were never compact enough, and instead an individual ‘closest to the ball pressures the player’ mentality dominated. Matarazzo’s men sometimes struggled to cope with the pressure of Freiburg on the break, but far superior teams have also struggled in the past. They also attempted to match Freiburg’s physicality and aggressiveness, helping to make this highly contested affair all the more entertaining.
FREIBURG – 4-4-2
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.
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. The team played down the left side in particular when they could, with Christian Gunter getting up the line and looking to both deliver and connect with Vincenzo Grifo and Lucas Holer. Jeong’s movement over to the left side also aided in this approach, as did Nico Schlotterbeck’s occasional attempts to step out from the back-line and join in Freiburg’s longer spells of possession. But beyond this left-sided approach, verticality and counter attacking was the 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. While both were well organized and sufficient, it was never to the same high-tempo intensity as Matarazzo’s team. They were successful however 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.
So there it is! A tactical analysis of Freiburg’s big win over Stuttgart. Be sure to check out more of our tactical analyses and follow on social media using the links below! Thanks for reading and see you soon!