Bundesliga analysis: how to finish in the top four this season | Sportsman | German football and major international sports news | DW

Unlike other competitions in Europe, the Bundesliga generally has an interesting fight for the top four places.

He tends to go all the way with a cycle of similar teams taking turns to finish in the top four and reach the Champions League.

Apart from Bayern Munich in the lead and possibly Borussia Dortmund in second, it is possible that two new clubs will burst into top-level sports, with a potentially intriguing second half of the season starting on Friday.

Philosophy, pressing style and training

The fourths of the last three seasons – Wolfsburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen – all had a football philosophy focused on the counterattack rather than playing from behind in a more possession-based manner.

It should be noted that two of the coaches of these teams, Oliver Glasner and Marco Rose, were from Red Bull football.

To initiate their counterattacks, all three teams had a similar pressure approach, including pressure signals or triggers (a sign for the team to press down on the opponent), pressure direction and style of pressure. marking. For the majority of matches, these teams used a 4-2-3-1 formation in all phases of play.

The red circles show the marking of the man within this formation

These similarities indicate which teams are best positioned to break into Champions League places this season.

Gerardo Seoane’s season

Leverkusen seems like the obvious choice, but having not finished in the top four since the 2018/19 season and having fallen considerably at the end of the 2019/20 campaign, the club are out of action for longer than expected.

They are currently fourth and are still finding their rhythm under the guidance of a new coach. Gerardo Seoane’s style of play shares the greatest similarities with former fourth-ranked teams, including the aforementioned 4-2-3-1 formation.

Within that structure, they aim to isolate their opponents on the wing, creating a one-on-one scoring style that forces high ball wins and dangerous counterattacks. Plus, Leverkusen’s individual quality combined with speed and agility make it fun.

Gerardo Seoane's high press system with Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen forces their opponents away

New success at the stadium for Streich?

Friborg, third, which was the last team to be beaten this season on Matchday 11, is also in contention. One of the reasons for Freiburg’s successes and why they can continue to improve is their consistency and continuity under the guidance of coach Christian Streich.

They usually alternate between two formations, a 3-4-3 and a 4-2-3-1, which seems to be a key factor in moving closer to Champions League football in the Bundesliga.

Freiburg is less aggressive in its pressing style but favors counterattacks rather than a possession-based approach. Within their selected formation, they also try to force the opponent to push aside and put pressure on them in wide areas. Instead of gaining the ball at the top of the pitch, they focus more on deeper defense and have more room to counter afterwards.

The defensive formation of Freiburg under Christian Streich

Christian Streich’s Friborg defend more deeply.

Hoeness gives hope to Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim, fifth, have been the unexpected contender this season, putting in a strong performance for the first time since the 2017/18 season. Compared to Freiburg and Leverkusen they are working in a slightly different setup, with coach Sebastian Hoeness sticking to three / five behind and out of possession.

Hoffenheim is also well prepared for dangerous counterattacks, but creates more of it in a structured and organized building game. They use three wide center-backs and a pivot player to pass the ball into the higher areas of the pitch.

Their direct attack style is supported by their wings. In possession, they add breadth and depth to their game by occupying higher positions. From this structure, they generate many breakthroughs that often lead to some promising chances after high and low crosses.

Passage angles of Hoffenheim

The Hoffenheim rhombus represents their angles of passage

Of all the teams in contention for the top four, Hoeness’s Hoffenheim are farthest in style than the teams that have finished fourth in previous years.

Nonetheless, the trend continues that a certain philosophy of Bundesliga football allows you to get ahead in a tight league.

Edited by: Mark Meadows


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