Here we are, the final piece of our four part series taking a look at the Worst XI of the Bundesliga’s fall season examines some of the worst strikers. Do you love great goals, exquisite finishes, clinical marksmen? This is not the place for you. If you came here looking for Lewandowski’s five goals in nine minutes, or Aubameyang’s goal records, I’m sorry. What’s that? Oh you were interested in Thomas Müller’s unique ability to put his team at a tactical advantage or perhaps the Chicharito renaissance. WRONG! I won’t even give you a little Salomon Kalou rejuvenation (coach Dárdai has got that one taken care of), nor is this the place to established outsiders like Anthony Modeste or up and comers like Yunus Malli.Now, if you are talking about Lord Bendtner, or Ciro Immobile, then you are speaking my language my friend!
There are three archetypical forwards that made the cut in our worst XI, the overwhelmed lower division player, the floundering talent and the over the hill star.
1.Lukas Hinterseer of FC Ingolstadt is a lock for one of our three spots. The main reasons for including him are the trio of essential components of a striker’s game that Hinterseer sorely lacks: possession, shots and goals.
It is never a great sign, when the first hit from a Youtube search leads to your top five goals, but all of those are from LAST Season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbLK0FLLZnQ
Or that, your “best second division goal” involves you getting shot in the chest and the ball getting redirected into the top corner….
Or the fact that despite scoring nine goals in 32 games in Bundesliga 2 and being instrumental to the team’s promotion Hinterseer still had goal droughts of 8-9 games. The 24-year-old Austrian has appeared in all 17 games playing 78% of the 1530 for a total of 1191 minutes. The returns have been miserable – his only goal (admittedly a well-taken one), came on OPENING DAY against Mainz 05.
Somehow, Hinterseer is averaging 0.9 shots per game as a central striker. Even if it is for the offensively anemic Ingolstadt, who have only scored 11 goals in the Hinrunde (and four of those came outside of the box), there is very little excuse for this kind ineffectiveness. The 0.9 shots per game (15 total-5 on target, 5 off target and 5 blocked!) is an astonishing 7th on his own team, just behind the LEFT BACK, Markus Suttner! Robert Lewandowski had nine shots, including SEVEN on target in his five goal evisceration of Wolfsburg. Lukas Hinterseer has FIVE shots on target this season. If you think that Hinterseer is somehow not getting any service you would be wrong, as his teammate, the excellent Pascal Gross, leads the league in key passes.with 49! Speaking of Gross, there is very little reason, that a central midfielder, such as Gross should have close to 3 times as many shots per game as the center forward, but that is the case for Ingolstadt.
While it is his teammate Matthew Leckie who leads the Bundesliga in terms of losing possession, Hinterseer is ranked 48th out of 50 qualified players in Squawka’s possession ratings. There are two main components to his low ranking: Losing duels (in the air and on the ground) and thus losing the ball.
The Austrian forward loses 68% of his aerial battles despite being physically gifted at 192cm and 86kgs. I’d understand if he was built like Stuttgart youngster Timo Werner (180cm 75kg) – who lost an astonishing 76 of 93 battles in the air, but Hinterseer has the size to do a lot better. Even his teammate, the Australian winger, Matthew Leckie has a 43% success rate on twice the attempts (78 to 39), despite giving away 10cms and 5 kilos to Lukas. Hinterseer’s 31 % success in take ons is very low – an average forward, like Frankfurt’s Haris Seferovic is at 61%. The problem here is also the attempts (7), which suggests that he just doesn’t have opportunities to run at defenders. A lot of that has to do with him not being able to hold on to the ball and being a poor passer in general.
61% pass completion – this is considered below average (Raffael’s obscene 85% is tops, but 70 is average) but you can find other examples of bad passers, like Werder’s Anthony Ujah, who has had seven goals on 41 shots, despite a similarly dismal 57% passing accuracy.
Ironically, if he manages to not lose the ball, he is actually pretty good: producing nine key passes, and nine chances created – the same as Lewandowski. The biggest problem for die Schanzer is that such occasions are incredibly rare, and it’s not like his two fellow attackers (Leckie with one goal and Hartmann with three) can take those chances.
Hinterseer represents the classic case of someone who doesn’t seem to be able to cut it at this level, due to his inability to hold on to the ball and his complete ineffectiveness in passing. The fact that he can’t really get his shots off isn’t all that surprising, considering he was playing in the Austrian Regional League until Ingolstadt signed him in May of 2014.
But, hey, at least he has famous relatives in skiing and entertainment! I’m not sure how this is allowed in 2016, but that is Lukas’ uncle Richard Clayderman rocking the Modern Talking haircut.
It’s not all bleak for him an his team. On the plus side, Hinterseer anchors Ingolstadt’s high press with his tireless running alongside Matthew Leckie and Moritz Hartmann, which has been very effective in creating fouls, as they lead the Bundesliga with 289. It has also been the foundation of a very solid defense, conceding just 18 goals in 17 matches.
2. Franco di Santo-Schalke 04 has also solidified his starting spot in the Worst XI after a July switch from Werder Bremen to Gelsenkirchen under acrimonious circumstances.. Unlike Hinterseer, the 26-year-old Argentine came with quite the pedigree, scoring 13 goals last season in the Bundesliga along with English Premier League experience. (Chelsea signed him at age 19 for 3.5 million pounds!). Valued at 8.5 million Euros according to Transfermarkt, the man they once thought would be the next Hernan Crespo has already earned 3 call-ups to the national team, but ultimately failed to make the cut for Brazil 2014. With an established goalscorer on the wrong side of 30 in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and an emerging star in Leroy Sane, die Königsblauen had high hopes for di Santo to round out their attack. Unfortunately, the signing has not worked out for Schalke, with his one goal and one assist in 1039 minutes. His five Europa League goals appear impressive, until you realize that four of those goals were against Greek minnows Asteras Tripolis. His lone Bundesliga goal came in the 3-1 win over Hannover 96, in what can be described as a fortunate, but well-placed header that sealed the victory for Schalke.
So, his one goal scored means, that perhaps he isn’t getting the help from his teammates?Well, let’s dive deeper into some numbers to provide some context for di Santo’s underwhelming Hinrunde.
Schalke’s biggest problem has been defending in midfield as Dustin Ward of Statsbomb astutely pointed out , which has led to allowing 14.9 shots per game, good for only 12th in the Bundesliga.
The Royal Blues, who sit in 6th position on 27 points with 23 goals scored and 23 allowed has actually been an exciting offensive team, tied for 5th with Wolfsburg with 14.9 shots per game. Thanks to the play of Johannes Geis, Leroy Sane and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Schalke have played quite a few end-to-end games like the somewhat unlucky 3-2 loss to rivals Borussia Dortmund. Speaking of Dortmund, I’m sure everyone is aware that they have scored 47 goals. The surprising statistic is that Schalke 04 actually have 175 key passes to BVB’s 174, despite taking 1.4 fewer shots per game. Their seven goals on counters are also leading the league, and with speedsters like Sane (Sokratis made a great “business decision” on the 1st goal in avoiding a red card) die Knappen can terrorize defenders. The trouble is the finishing, as veteran goalscorer Klaas Jan Huntelaar has added three more goals to is two in the Revierderby to lead the team (Sané is 2nd with four). Di Santo is, once again, noticeably absent from this list.
In conclusion, Di Santo sticks out like a sore thumb from an otherwise talented team; his 62% passing and one shot per game are just very poor for a player with his track record playing the amount of minutes he’s getting. Incredibly, defender and Liverpool target Joel Matip actually has one more shot than Di Santo.
Despite his great physical tools at 193cm and 88kg, di Santo is only decent in the air, losing 52% of his challenges. In addition, he ranks dead last on his team with a weak 62% pass accuracy. So, ultimately it is no surprise that the striker ranks 47th out of 50 in the Squawka rankings. He also turns 27 in April, so given his track record of not being able to hack it in England and one good season for Werder, I have my doubts about his long-term future for Schalke.That same future, however is much rosier for the team from Gelsenkirchen, as their four midfielders, Sané, Geis, Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer all are under 22 years of age. Clearly, this is a team built for the future; if it can keep its core, which if we are to believe the transfer rumors around Sané and Matip will not be a cakewalk.
3. The final spot was the toughest selection in the entire XI, as there were really so few qualified candidates. Florian Niederlechner of Mainz 05 was the worst rated forward, but his 177 minutes make him ineligible. With apologies to Matthew Leckie (despite having the dubious pleasure of being among the league leaders in losing the ball and aerial challenges) of Ingolstadt, whose close to 500 passes (ranking 5th amongst forwards with 348 successful ones), defensive contributions in pressing, as well as in drawing fouls (38 times in 16 games) just keep him off the list. Given, that I have angered the VfB Stuttgart fans (whose own darling 19-year-old Timo Werner was in contention for this list), I’ll exclude Aussie and not do the same to fans of FC Ingolstadt.
Instead, we are going to split this position and combine two players, who have been so awful that they basically either unplayable and/or out of the starting lineup. Our conjoined twins of KevinJosip KurányiDrmic earn our last spot in the Hinrunde’s worst XI.
Let’s start with the young half: Josip Drmic of Borussia Mönchengladbach (who had 17 goals for Nürnberg in 2013/14) only played 436 minutes, starting in the 4-0 and 5-0 thrashings of the Foals at the hands of Dortmund and Leverkusen. Of course Bundesliga fans are familiar with Gladbach’s abysmal five straight losses to start the 2015/16 season, which cost Lucien Favre to resign. Thorgan Hazard and Josip Drmic were the two main culprits, and it was no surprise that the team’s fortunes began to turn in the 4-2 triumph over Augsburg, with the aforementioned duo not even coming off the bench. After that game, the Swiss international only played 90 minutes, against his former team in Bayer Leverkusen (where last year he was able to get six goals in 800 minutes in a supersub role). Perhaps to inflict some punishment, coach Andre Schubert had him on for the whole game, so the striker had a prime view of the demolition by the duo of Chicharito (hat-trick) and Kiessling (2 goals, 2 assists).
His lone goal came in the Fabian Johnson show 3-3 draw against Hoffenheim, a wide open header from the 6 yard box that made it 3-2.
Hoffenheim on that late November afternoon were missing the services of former Schalke star, Kevin Kurányi who scored 18 goals in 2009-10 for die Knappen. The reason for that was that by then the former German international had lost his starting spot to a platoon of Eduardo Vargas and 19-year-old Nadiem Amiri, after averaging 50 minutes in his first 5 games. At 33, Kurányi appears to have very little left (aside from being good in the air with his 190cm 88kg frame) at the Bundesliga level, as his atrocious 55% passing has earned him just 436 minutes of playing time. Unlike, Kurányi, Drmic is actually a good passer of the ball, with a 72% completion rate and can occasionally finish his chances. The trouble for both of them is that they are unlikely to get those chances, as their managers seemed to have learned their lessons and realized that their teams are better off without them.
What do you think of these selections? Let us know in the comments section if you agree and of course, if you disagree!
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