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Wolfsburg v Werder Bremen. Bundesliga Analysis via Player Positional Tracker

By Colin Trainor | September 29, 2014 | Player Positional Tracker

Wolfsburg 2 vs 1 Werder Bremen

Continuing the theme of insightful analysis from guests, I aked the brilliant Rene Maric if he could provide some analysis on a German match of his choice from the weekend's Bundesliga round.  For those who are not aware of Rene, he is one of the brains behind the excellent Spielverlagerung tactics site, think of the German equivalent of Zonal Marking's Michael Cox.  That's Rene.

Unfortunately I was having technical issues with the data for Koln v Bayern Munich game so Rene was kind enough to offer to analyse the Wolfsburg v Werder Bremen game instead, via the use of our Player Positional Tracker.

Rene's comments and analysis appear below the gif, and as always click on the image to open it in a larger window.


In the game Wolfsburg vs Werder Bremen the international audience probably saw two rather unknown coaches who are both considered one of the most competent tactically in Germany. Wolfsburg's Dieter Hecking is the 'classical' hard working coach who survived relegation battle regularly at Nuremberg and Hannover; he defines himself through solid attacking play and intelligent adaptation for specific games. Mostly he mixes man-marking with zonal marking or implements intelligent tactical changes like a 4-1-3-1-1 against Louis van Gaal's Bayern in 2010/11. Robin Dutt is the opposite: He often has really interest and sometimes extreme ideas with mixed success - at Freiburg he was great, he failed at Leverkusen (though more because of man-management aspects) and now at Werder he is mediocre.

Against Wolfsburg Dutt had another rather unusual idea to create an advantage for his side. As you can see in the PPT, often Junuzovic is much higher than Makiadi and both wingers are not really wide. This was because when pressing higher Junuzovic moved upfront and created a diamond; the wingers then went more towards the middle and the shape was a 4-1-2-1-2/4-3-1-2/4-1-3-2. But as soon as the high press was beaten, Junuzovic came back and the wingers played classic against. This was then a typical 4-4-2 formation in their own half in pressing. Probably the goal was to close down Wolfsburg's passing options in the first third of the pitch and then attack them aggressively; if it wasn't possible, they dropped back to a more stable shape.

Interesting was the focus on the right side. As you can see both Bartels and Busch on this side were pushing high; Busch was also very involved into the attacking play, while Di Santo and Petersen moved very much but tried to stay near each other for fast combination play and flick ons.

At Wolfsburg's PPT it is easy to see that they had a rather clear 4-2-3-1, where both wingers tried to come into the middle and Olic was moving very much accross the horizontal to open space. Especially de Bruyne was going towards the middle, where Hunt had more of a balancing and supporting role - he wasn't involved as much as a normal 10 could have been.

Interesting is also the higher focus on Gustavo and his deeper role. In the beginning Gustavo often went towards the left half space to be able to get free, pass towards Rodriguez and cover behind him. Later Gustavo was often standing inbetween or infront the two centrebacks, while Guilavogui was the one advancing from centre midfield. Against the ball Guilavogui also had a higher and more aggressive role, sometimes he helped Hunt or took over Hunt's position who then advanced upfront to support Olic. This was also because of situative man-marking from Guilavogui towards the oppositional centre midfielders; a classical Hecking approach.

Involvement in general according to the PPT was rather focussed on the wing and some individual players; the wingers were rarely near the touchline at both teams while the wingbacks pushed upfront very much. Vierinha/Jung as right backs did it nearly in such a manner as Rodriguez on the left and for Bremen it was their right back Busch who did it very often in the first half, but then stayed more passive in the second half.

Interesting that at the PPT it even often looked like a 4-3-3 or even a lopsided 3-4-3 for Bremen, while in fact it was "just" more a focus on the right side and Bartels pushing high up as was Busch. Hajrovic in these situations came towards the middle to fill the space and support the strikers or give connections to other zones, while at Wolfsburg it was evident that Perisic and de Bruyne had with some positional changes within the game.

The general scheme of this game in the second half seemed Wolfsburg's shape became more open as they played with more of the ball while Werder on the other hand had to defend more and they were more compact; which is best seen with the less advancing of Junuzovic and Busch.

Article by Colin Trainor