Performance Analysis – Sokratis Schaaf’s Secret Weapon Against Hannover 96

Werder Bremen’s Greek centre back was allowed to roam freely for most of the match, giving Hannover’s defenders a headache.

Thomas Schaaf and Werder have caught a lot criticism by the press and the Werder faithful for the green and whites’ dire start into the Rückrunde. Two losses and a goal difference of 3:8 were certainly not what Bremen had hoped for in their two matches against Borussia Dortmund and Hamburger SV.

Especially Schaaf’s new approach of a more fluid midfield, which at times featured Nils Petersen on the right-wing and seeing the likes of Clemens Fritz outplayed on the holding midfielder’s position, has been heavily criticized by the pundits.

A free roaming Sokratis

Schaaf decided that more of the same was the answer to Werder’s worries in defense and attack, despite the criticism the Bundesliga’s longest serving coach had received so far during the Rückrunde. Amongst the new elements of Schaaf’s tactics tonight was the role given to Greek centre back.

Werder’s No. 22 was allowed to roam freely, often times moving forward and up the pitch through the left channel, combining with Schmitz and de Bruyne. Sokratis touched the ball a total of 79 times throughout the match, only bettered by teammate Aleksandar Ignjovski in that department.

Sokratis’s accurate passing and his strength in one-on-ones helped the Greek to avoid losing the ball and running the danger of giving Hannover the chance to start one of their vicious counter attacks. The Greek won 21 of his duels, the most of all the players involved in tonight’s match.

The 35 time Greek international won his duels all over the pitch tonight.
The 35 time Greek international won his duels all over the pitch tonight.

The Greek defender even stayed up in attack after dead ball situations from time to time, relying on his team-mate Zlatko Junuzovic taking his place in the Werder back four. Sokratis’s  willingness to stay up in attack was not crowned by a goal, but the Greek defender managed to finish of a Werder move from within the box 5 times.

Five of Sokratis's six shot came from within the area.
Five of Sokratis’s six shot came from within the area.

Happy end for Werder

Werder have been wasteful in terms of converting their chances so far this season and Friday night’s match against Hannover proved to be just the same. This time around the green and whites weren’t punished by their opponents, however. Nils Petersen managed to get at the end of an Elia cross in the 85th minute making it 1-0 from short distance. Only moments later substitute Yildirim managed to lift the ball towards Petersen who smashed the ball home from 14 meters.

A well deserved win for Werder Bremen in the end. Schaaf’s men managed to create a total of 32 shots against their northern rivals, establishing a new season record. Both Aaron Hunt and Nils Petersen managed in fact to shoot 7 times, whilst the entire Hannover team only managed to create 6 shots in total. Werder outran and outpassed the Reds in the end. The leaky Werder defense allowed Hannover one big chance throughout the 90 minutes, which is unusual for the green and whites(to say the least).

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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