FC Sankt Pauli 2018 – 2019 Season Preview – Which way for Die Kiezkickers?

Basics

  • Name: FC St Pauli (Fußball-Club Sankt Pauli).
  • Nickname: “Die Kiezkicker”.
  • Founded: 15th of May 1910.
  • Club colors: brown – white.
  • Primary rivals: Hamburg SV, Hansa Rostock, Holstein Kiel.
  • Fan friendship: SV Babelsberg, Bohemians Praha (Czech Republic) and Celtic Glasgow (Scotland).

Stadium

  • Name: Millerntor-Stadion
  • Capacity: 29,546.
  • 2017-18 attendance: 499,698 (29,394 per match) – 2nd best in 2. Bundesliga

2017 – 2018 Finishes

2.Bundesliga: 12th place (11 wins, 10 draws, 13 losses), Goals For 35, Goals Against 48, Goal Difference -13

DFB Pokal: 1st Round (Defeated by SC Paderborn, 2-1)

Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals:  3
Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 8
Number of Matches drawn:  10
Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 6
Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals:  7
Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss:  1
Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw:  5
Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw:  3
Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory:  1

Top Scorers in 2017-18

1 – 6 (tied) Christopher Buchtmann, Johannes Flum, Richard Neudecker, Waldemar Sobota, Sami Allagui and Aziz Bouhaddouz: 4 goals.

Christopher Buchtmann

Summer Test Results

Record: 5-0-2
Goals Scored: 24
Goals Allowed: 8

  • Eutiner SV 0-4 FC St Pauli
  • Weiche Flensburg 1-6 FC St Pauli
  • Brøndby 3-0 FC St Pauli
  • Pinzgau Saalfelden 0-8 FC St Pauli
  • Liefering 0-3 FC St Pauli
  • Karlsruher SC 4-1 FC St Pauli
  • FC St Pauli 2-0 Stoke City

When We Last Saw Them

After the miraculous 2016 – 2017 Rückrunde, St Pauli couldn’t confirm the uptrend last season, being involved in the relegation battle until the 33rd matchday. It’s interesting that Die Kiezkickers were only 3 points behind the relegation playoff at the end of the 24th round, after a dramatic home win against Holstein Kiel. On that day, Richard Neudecker delivered a brilliant performance (2 goals and 1 assist) to give St Pauli an impressive comeback, turning around the 1-2 deficit into a hard to forget 3-2 victory. What followed after this is something that every St Pauli fan had probably already forgotten – only 3 points gained from the next 7 rounds and the boys in brown were on the relegation playoff spot with three rounds to go. But two consecutive home wins saved the season.

As the chart shows, St Pauli moved up and down the table during the turbulent 2017 – 2018 season, with great worries until the end. This suggests how inconsistent the team was throughout the season. This was caused by two reasons: the endless injury problems and lack of cold blood in front of the goal. Important players missed a multiple games due to health issues: Christopher Buchtmann (17 and played with pain in most of the others), Marc Hornschuh (28 and still injured), Mats Möller Daehli (10), Bernd Nehrig (8 due to injuries, 2 due suspensions), Richard Neudecker (8), Lasse Sobiech (7).  The second reason was St Pauli’s inefficient attack: the worst of the league (35 goals), along with Sandhausen and Aue. There was no player responsible with scoring goals, as there were six who managed to put the ball in the back of the net only four times each.

Aspiration

Safe midfield. Although only one transfer in was made, Sports Director Uwe Stöver says St Pauli strengthened with a highly determined and pain free Cristopther Buchtmann; while coach Markus Kauczinski praises the ‘new’ Sami Allagui, hoping he will show the same scoring appetite and commitment against stronger opponents as he did in the friendly matches. The coach also suggests that fans should not panic, although important players (Nehrig, Möller Daehli, Dudziak, Cenk Sahin and Diamantakos) have been struggling with more or less minor injuries since the start of the summer preparation.

Reality

The reality is that everyone wants the team to reach the 40 points as soon as possible. The first eight rounds are extremely difficult, so we could well see the Kiezkickers already involved in the relegation battle after the season start. The more accessible opponents will be met in the second part of the Hinserie.

It can only go better for St Pauli if the key players Buchtmann, Neudecker, Möller Daehli and Nehrig will stay injury free as long as possible, while players like Cenk Sahin or Bouhaddouz will find their old form from the 2016-2017 spring season, when they were unstoppable.

The Boss

Markus Kauczinski is a coach who likes his team to have a compact and well organized defense and quick counter attack. This is how he made a name for himself in the second league, as the manager of Karlsruher SC, when he was seconds away to winning the promotion playoff against Hamburg. His adventure at Karlsruher ended in June 2016 with a record of 1.64 points won per match during more than three seasons.

During his 18 matches as St Pauli’s head coach his defensive approach didn’t really work out, winning only 1.28 points per game with a negative goal balance (21-22). The formation varied between 4-4-2 with a double 6 and 4-2-3-1, which is a good indicator about how St Pauli will play next season – deep defending and quick counters with the fast wingers. The addition of Marvin Knoll brings a lot of flexibility, as his technical skills can recommend him for a defensive midfield position, next to Bernd Nehrig, or even as a single six, as St Pauli played against Stoke City. He also brings goal danger from dead balls, with 30 scoring chances created and 13 goals scored by Regensburg during the 2017-2018 season after his set pieces.

Notable Transfers – As of 31st of July

 Out:

  • Lasse Sobiech to 1. FC Köln
  • Marvin Ducksch (yes, that’s right!) to Fortuna Düsseldorf

In:

  • Marvin Knoll from Jahn Regensburg
  • Mats Möller Daehli from SC Freiburg (transfer after loan)

Strengths

Defense and counter attacks. As Markus Kauczinski had a full preparation period behind we should see a pretty safe defense although Lasse Sobiech left the club. Avevor took the opportunity after Hornschuh’s injury and played a strong 2017 – 2018 season, so he looks set in the back four. Next to him we could see Ziereis, or even newcomer Knoll. Nehrig and Dudziak should cover the space in front of the back four and provide the link with the attacking midfield. Buchtmann could also play next to Nehrig, as a deep lying playmaker with less defensive duties, but playing on the ten is more appropriate for him, to be closer to his offensive colleagues and the opposite goal, in order make better use of his passing and finishing skills.

Lightning fast counter attacks are a trademark for Markus Kauczinski’s teams. St Pauli was among the most dangerous counter attack teams in the league last season, so we should see a similar attitude.

Weaknesses

The attack. St Pauli, along with Braunschweig, had the worst conversion rate last season – they needed 4.54 chances to score one goal. According to rumors, a new attacker should come, but with only a few days before season start it’s a tough job to find someone who can bring immediate impact. Diamantakos seems to have the best cards for the starting XI, but he’s only scored once since joining St Pauli and left the training camp with a slight injury. Bouhaddouz seems unsettled, he wanted to leave, now he wants to stay only if he plays, while his morale seems rather low after a catastrophic season and a disastrous appearance at the World Cup. Allagui seems to be in good form, but only after scoring in friendly matches against modest opponents. It’s unlikely that he will have the same impact in the league. Schneider is the fourth attacker in the squad, but he simply cannot make it to the starting XI, so he has to accept the joker role.

Critical Stretch

The first 8 rounds. It’s going to be a mountain to climb for St Pauli to put on a 3+ series of good results considering they will play against Berlin (A, 3rd round), Köln (H, 4th round), Ingolstadt (A, 6th round), Hamburg (A, 8th round). After last season’s performance of the newly promoted teams, there will be no walk in the park in Magdeburg (A, 1st round), nor at home against SC Paderborn (H, 7th round), midweek, in between two tough away games (Ingolstadt and the local derby). The results from this series can be season defining for St Pauli, as they will be either high flying or under huge pressure, with the sword above their heads.

Verdict

10th Place. St Pauli definitely has quality in defense and midfield and a coach whose teams are hard to beat, but there are problems in attack. Will they bring a new top scorer, or will they find one in their own ranks? Or none of this will happen? It’s not going to be easy for the Kiezkickers, but they should be able to escape from the relegation battle close to the end of the season, just like they did in the previous one. There certainly are teams with lower quality and bigger problems than the brown-whites.

 

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