FC St Pauli – Holstein Kiel review

Is dreaming really allowed at Millerntor? Holstein Kiel goes empty handed despite good performance

Both teams started in their usual systems, St Pauli in a 4-4-2 shape, while Kiel used their traditional 4-1-4-1 system, with very offensive wingers (sometimes the shape became 4-1-2-3) and a lot of freedom for Dominic Drexler. St Pauli was more courageous comparing to the last two games (with a 6 back chain when defending), acted at times in a 4-3-3 pressing shape, with Sobota moving a little bit to the center and Neudecker joining Bouhaddouz and Allagui in the early pressing. This way they disturbed Holstein Kiel build up play, they simply couldn’t link the defense with the midfield. The hosts even took the lead after 11 minutes, with a quick played free kick from their own half and intelligent positioning from Neudecker between the two strikers.

Kiel immediately woke up, their aggressiveness made St Pauli’s defense wobble and scored twice in 5 minutes, after two well played attacks. The guests were in complete control of the match, could easily escape from the hosts’ weak pressing and attacked the opponents very high on the pitch. Drexler movement to the left to create superiority and Ducksch’s dropping deep to receive the ball and create space behind him were constant threats for St Pauli. Most of Holstein’s attacks were on the left side, where they had another advantage – Sobota’s half central position, so there was more space.

The hosts were visibly disturbed by the high positioning of Kiel and couldn’t find any optimal solutions to advance in the opposite half and try to create dangerous attacks. Only for a few moments St Pauli risked to attack with a 2-4-4 shape, but they were quickly pushed back. Those were the only times when the full backs ventured forward.

Kauczinski changed at half time, Flum replaced Nehrig (booked and no offensive support) with hopes to bring new attacking impulses. Despite moving the lines higher up, with more support from the flanks and forward runs by Dudziak, St Pauli couldn’t create any danger for a long time – the precision of the last pass was often missing, but also the time on the ball was limited in the final third. Kinsombi helped Peitz in front of the defense, so most of the hosts’ passing angles were closed down. Although not so interested in the possession, Kiel was very dangerous with fast attacks. There was more space, Drexler created numerical advantage on the left side, Ducksch created space in the middle, they also tried fast transitions after winning the ball in the opposite half, but failed to score from clear cut chances.

One small mistake from Kiel’s defense was enough for St Pauli to equalize. They couldn’t clear an imprecise cross from deep and offered space and time on the ball to Bouhaddouz, who played a top pass to Neudecker, again in finishing position. In the end all three points remained at Millerntor, man of the match Neudecker sending a corner kick to the near post, where Avevor was faster than everyone and headed ball in the back of the net.

Key scenes

11th min: Free kick for St Pauli in their own half. Quick played to Sobota, who runs with the ball into space and sends it into the box to Neudecker (Peitz is too late and cannot block).  Schmidt is one step before Neudecker, but clears the ball at the feet of Sobota who passes this time to Bouhaddouz. He fools Herrmann, turns and shoots, but the ball hits the post. Neudecker, positioned as a central forward, is the first to react and pushes the ball in – 1-0. This attack was carried 4v5, but it’s mentioning that other three Kiel players stopped their runs back after Schmidt’s poor clearance, although they could have helped the defense.


14th min: Drexler and Kinsombi position themselves between St Pauli’s lines; both Nehrig and Dudziak are advanced and don’t adjust their positions with their opponents’. Schmidt plays a high ball from central line over St Pauli’s double six and Kiel has 3v2 advantage. The ball arrives at Kinsombi in the penalty area from Ducksch, who wins the duel with Sobiech. Drexler is already standing free waiting for the pass, but Sobiech commits foul. Schindler takes the ball scores from the spot – 1-1.


19th min: long pass from Kiel’s goalkeeper, Kronholm, Ducksch disturbs Sobiech, who jumps under the ball. Seydel receives unmarked, Park stays too far doesn’t attack him, so he has all the time to prepare the pass in the path of Ducksch’s run. Despite all efforts, Avevor cannot trouble him, Ducksch shoots and turns the game – 1-2. Himmelmann could have saved the unplaced shot, though.


21st min: Herrmann plays a long pass from the central line, Ducksch wins the aerial duel with Avevor, and runs around him, in the space he created. Sobiech is late and cannot intervene, Ducksch shoots, but the ball goes centimeters wide.


33rd min: great work from Drexler on the left side, he sends the ball into the box, but St Pauli’s defense clears. Peitz is the first on the second ball, 20m far from the goal, without pressure and takes the shot. Sobiech blunders, cannot remove the danger and puts the ball at Ducksch’s feet, who is suddenly 1v1 with Himmelmann. Without thinking he thunders the ball, but the keeper saves with a world class reflex.


50th min: long ball from Kronholm, Kinsombi wins the air duel and heads the ball to Ducksch, who drops deep to receive and creates space behind him. Avevor cannot put enough pressure, so the ball goes to Schindler, who moves in the free space, but needs too much time on the ball. Drexler moves again free on the left side and is the passing option, as Park stays close to Seydel. Park finally decides to attack Drexler, but has no chance in a 1v1 duel with the fine dribbler. He advances inside the penalty area, crosses at the penalty spot, St Pauli’s defense wobbles again and cannot clear. The ball arrives at Herrmann, unmarked, who shoots, but Himmelmann saves again with a strong parade.


58th min: Flum overrates his technical skills and easily loses the ball against Drexler. Buballa attacks him, but cannot clear, and Schindler runs in the space behind him. Drexler has an eye for Schindler and sends him 1v1 with Himmelmann, but the goalkeeper shows his class again.


62nd min: Ducksch moves right to receive the ball, Avevor follows him, leaving a gap behind. Dudziak drops to close it and also stays near Drexler, who took the central forward position, but leaves another huge gap between the back and midfield lines. The ball goes back to Herrmann, who has a lot of space in front of him and moves into free space with the ball. Dudziak is in a very uncomfortable situation – stay close to Drexler, or put pressure on Herrmann? He chooses the second option, leaving Drexler free, Sobiech also tries to block Herrmann, so the latter obviously plays unmarked Drexler. Himmelmann and Park rushes into his direction and he plays a smart pass left on Seydel, who is now free. Unfortunately the pass is not on his forward movement, Seydel needs too much time to prepare his shot, the defense regroups and Himmelmann easily saves.


71st min: Drexler moves again to the left side, Park is too far and offers him time to cross into the box. Buballa clearance is too short, Mühling is first on the ball and sends a quick pass to Schindler, 1v1 with the goalkeeper. Avevor makes a crucial tackle and blocks the shot in the last second.


74th min:  Park crosses from deep to the edge of the penalty area, Peitz is well positioned but cannot clear the ball. Schneider is faster than Herrmann and sends the ball to Bouhaddouz, who is free, as Kiel’s defenders dropped too close to their goal. Neudecker moves in the space behind Herrmann, receive a top pass from Bouhaddouz and shoots the ball under the crossbar – 2-2, out of nowhere.


89th min: Neudecker takes a corner kick from the left to the near post, Avevor is faster than Peitz and heads between Kronholm legs in the back of the net – 3-2 for St Pauli and the crowd goes wild.


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