At the start of the season the fans of the Bundesliga were surprised by how well SC Paderborn managed to adapt to first tier football. André Breitenreiter’s team could churn out results against much bigger opponents almost on a regular basis, despite SCP having the lowest wage budget in the entire league. One wouldn’t believe it these days, but Paderborn are the last team to top the table before Bayern München climbed on top of the standings.
However, the last few weeks have been difficult for the team. Before Sunday’s match the goals had dried up and the club hadn’t won a single game since match day 10. Against Hannover 96, another team that has been struggling of late, Paderborn finally managed to get back to winning ways.
1. An organised team performance
Coach Breitenreiter was happy to admit after the match that he had planned to leave most of the ball to Hannover during this match. Once the 96’ers were in possession his team defended well, most of the times only leaving Elias Kachunga lurking for counter attacks upfront. Whenever a Hannover player was in possession, it didn’t take long before he was facing one or two opponents trying to force him into a mistake. Four of Hannover’s nine shots were blocked(Hannover blocked none of Paderborn’s 11 shots). The home team struggled to create anything of note before Marcelo slotted home a free kick delivery, which was headed on by Joselu, in the 66th minute.
2. Hühnemeier and Rafa Lopes forming a stable partnership
Right from the get-go in the Rückrunde the defence turned out to be Paderborn’s biggest problems. In first two matches after the winter break the team conceded the staggering amount of eight goals against two teams from the bottom half of the table (Mainz and Hamburg). However, both against Köln and on Sunday night against Hannover, the team’s defensive performance was much improved. The two centre backs Uwe Hühnemeier and Rafa Lopes have started to form a great partnership of late. Lopes hindered Briand to break through alone on goal with a last stitch tackle in the first half and the captain Hühnemeier played with a self-assured calm one wouldn’t expect from a defender bogged down in the battle against relegation.
3. Effective pinprick football
The German word Nadelstiche, which translates to pinprick, is often times used by coaches who have chosen a counter attacking approach. Paderborn coach Breitenreiter confirmed after the match that his team were just looking to put a few pinpricks into the Hannover pillow in order to get the win tonight. His team’s counter attacking was far from perfect tonight, but at times his players managed to push up in numbers in order to create a few decent half chances and three or four decent chances. The fact that a poor clearance by Hannover was converted into a goal from four touches by four different Paderborn players is very telling in that regard.
4. Breitenreiter’s Lucky punch
The transfer of Srdjan Lakic was seemingly a strange deal, given that Paderborn had four strikers in their squad before the former Kaiserslautern player joined the squad. However, against Hannover the Croatian managed to get the all important equaliser. Lakic had only nine touches of the ball (six of which were passes), but his run into the box and his striker’s instinct for the second goal of the match gave Paderborn the belief that they could turn this match around. If the 31-year-old manages to score a few more important goals he could make the vital difference between staying in the league and getting relegated. Breitenreiter’s instinct to put on another striker was rewarded in the end (as it was against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Hinrunde). Having turned this game around and having dragged Hannover into the relegation dog-fight should give the team with some much-needed confidence as well.
5. Meha’s thunderbolt
Alban Meha was one of the stars of last season’s promotion campaign. So far this season the Albanian international has struggled with injuries and poor form at times. Finally he was able to show what he can do when given a chance to take a free kick. Some commentators may think that Ron-Robert Zieler in the Hannover goal was at fault for Paderborn’s second goal, but if one takes the insane swerve of the ball into consideration it is hard to make an argument for Zieler having to take the blame for that goal.
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