Augsburg – RasenBallsport Leipzig: Leipzig Continue Inconsistent Run (1-1)
After a relatively comfortable debut, Domenico Tedesco faced the first stiff challenge of his Leipzig tenure against Markus Weinzierl’s Augsburg. As it transpired, this was not a challenge that the new coach would clear, as Augsburg’s clever scheme and exemplary intensity – combined with Leipzig’s finishing woes – once again kept the visitors from developing the offensive rhythm that is key to victory.
Tactical analysis and match report by Manasvin Andra.
While Leipzig have some wonderful players, this has been a season where they have unable to gel and put together a consistent run of wins. While some regression was to be expected after Julian Nagelsmann’s departure, the talent level of the side certainly places it within Germany’s top five. However, the results show a different picture, with Leipzig stuck in midtable purgatory outside the Champions League places. It is up to Tedesco to get the team out of this rut, and he made just one change from the team that beat Gladbach with Benjamin Henrichs replacing Nordi Mukiele at right wingback.
Augsburg have been an interesting team to follow, and recently recorded a big win over a shaky Bayern Munich side. They are athletic, intense and tactically smart, all of which are qualities that would test the mettle of this Leipzig side.
Weinzierl went with a 4-4-2 shape, with center-backs Robert Gumny and Reece Oxford flanked by fullbacks Iago and Raphael Framberger. The midfield comprised of Ruben Vargas, Niklas Dorsch, Jan Morávek and Fredrik Jensen. Up top was the duo of Michael Gregoritsch and captain André Hahn.
Augsburg’s courageous gameplan
To begin with, it must be noted that Augsburg’s shape off the ball was more of a lopsided 4-3-3 than the normal 4-4-2 shape. This was because of the positioning of the wingers, with left winger Ruben Vargas joining strikers Gregoritsch and Hahn up front. On the right, Jensen remained in an indented position alongside the double pivot of Morávek and Dorsch.
This pass from Orban to Simakan triggers the Augsburg press. Clearly shows how the left winger took up higher positions than right winger Jensen.
This had an interesting effect, since it seemed to be a response to Leipzig’s tendency to favor their left flank in buildup. While the trio up front chased the ball carriers, Jensen remained in the halfspace while right back Framberger was aggressive in stepping out on Leipzig wingback Angeliño. During this time, the double pivot was careful in keeping Jonrad Laimer and Kevin Kampl in front of them, while Jensen was alerted to the presence of Emil Forsberg whenever the Swedish midfielder made movements on the left. On Augsburg’s left, Iago was quick in cutting off the path of right wingback Benjamin Henrichs whenever he received the pass, with Dorsch moving to support him in coverage.
This tweak saw Augsburg either win the ball through their press or retreat into a medium block if Leipzig managed to keep them at bay. Leipzig often circulated in a u-shape given their inability to break Augsburg down, and breakthroughs were often the result of individual brilliance, improvised rotations or Augsburg mistakes. With the hosts’ scheme on their right flank, they were able to keep the Angeliño/Forsberg/Christopher Nkunku triangle in check, since all three levels of Augsburg’s block were able to follow the sequences as they developed.
This meant that the host were only carved open in a few situations, particularly when Leipzig were able to beat the initial press. Occasionally, with Forsberg operating in Jensen’s blinf side, Joško Gvardiol was free to move up the channel and pass into Nkunku’s feet, which then resulted in a series of quick-hitting actions. Alternatively, Leipzig tried to go long when Augsburg began moving up their block to begin the press, in order to find Nkunku or Silva’s runs in behind.
There was also the trusty fullback switch, with Angeliño receiving a lofted ball as he moved into the halfspace before sending a cross into the box. The first goal arrived after Angeliño crossed to Henrichs as the latter motored up the pitch; his first-time cross reached Silva at the back post for a simple finish.
There were situations when Forsberg, Nkunku and Silva’s movements meant Augsburg right back Framberger found himself on an island against Angeliño, which is dangerous since the wingback does not need a second invitation to whip in a cross. Plays rarely developed on the right flank, with only a couple of moments showing promise thanks to Forsberg and Laimer’s involvement.
Interestingly, neither Kampl nor Forsberg moved wide in buildup, which was a common sight against Gladbach. Rather, they moved there only when the ball was in the final third, in a bid to provide a presence on the wing when Angeliño moved inside. Still, this was an interesting change, as this movement was a recurring feature in Tedesco’s first game in charge.
Leipzig shine on the counterattack
In offense, Augsburg initially sent the ball long, before displaying a slower buildup structure. However, each phase had a clear idea, since the shape changed to something of a 4-2-4 shape in both cases. When the buildup was direct, the pass was often aimed towards the flanks, where the striker and winger attempted to hold possession till the fullbacks provided a release valve through their overlapping runs. This could provide a direct punch, since the fullback could cross with the hosts crashing the Leipzig box.
When the buildup was short, it often relied on the wingers coming a bit deep to allow the fullbacks to overlap and the strikers to occupy the center-backs by running the channels.
Augsburg’ shorter buildup, which gave the fullbacks license to overlap while counter movements developed up front.
There were counter movements intended to deceive the Leipzig defenders and force them to rotate on the fly. This was most clearly expressed in a first half scene where striker Gregoritsch ran in behind while winger Vargas dropped as if to receive the pass. The fullback however played a grounded pass, which prompted Gregoritsch to gesture that he wanted the ball over the top since Simakan was drawn to Vargas’ movement. During these scenes, there was some distance between the members of the double pivot, with Dorsch generally remaining deep while Morávek took up a more advanced position.
Augsburg did not create too much offensively, with most of their offense coming in the form of infrequent breakaways. This shows in the fact that they had only had six passes into the box, when compared to Leipzig’s significantly larger share.
This created a risky structure, since the rest defense essentially comprised of Dorsch and the two center-backs. This showed in case Augsburg turned the ball over, where the hosts could have conceded on at least two occasions. Leipzig’s rest offense tore through the Augsburg defense with up-back-through sequences that relied on the three players up front. Often, Forsberg would receive the pass and immediately look to hit Nkunku who by that point would have spun into space. The Frenchman then sought to find strike partner Silva in the box, and these sequences were remarkably to watch, given the speed of execution. Unfortunately, they were unable to finish these opportunities; with Silva heading perhaps the best chance above the crossbar.
Changes in the second half
Both sides made some substitutions in the second half, with Mads Pedersen replacing Morávek and Arne Maier later replacing Vargas. On the Leipzig side, Nordi Mukiele came in for Mohamed Simakan and Tyler Adams replaced Laimer. With Adams in the center, there were more instances of Leipzig creating double width with either Kampl or Forsberg moving wide.
Augsburg did not change too much in response, since Jensen continued sitting in the right halfspace. With the substitutions, Pedersen played as the left winger while Maier played alongside Dorsch. The scheme remained the same, as Augsburg sought to press from the front and engage in Leipzig in individual duels on the touchline.
What was notable was how Augsburg usually kept Leipzig from developing play in the second half, with the whole team working continuously to chase the equalizer. In response, Tedesco sent on Dominik Szoboszlai, which created a 5-3-2 structure as Kampl played as the holding midfielder behind Adams and the Hungarian midfielder.
The match played out at a similar tempo as Augsburg continued making substitutions to preserve the intensity of their game. They were awarded a penalty in the 86th minute, which was converted by Daniel Caligiuri to bring the hosts level. This prompted one last roll of the dice from Tedesco, who sent on Brian Brobbey in search for the winner. However, Augsburg held firm, adding to their tally of impressive results by securing a credible draw,
This was a fun game where Augsburg were mostly able to keep a lid on Leipzig’s offense. The breakaways were dangerous, but Leipzig were more effective in the first half than in the second. Augsburg’s 4-4-2 formation worked well, with the winger on the left flank able to move out flexibly while the right winger stayed deeper to prevent Leipzig from breaking through. Immense credit goes to the strikers, who were tireless in their pursuit of the ball and set the tone for Markus Weinzierl’s plucky outfit.
We decided to make this article free to read. If you want to support our work, consider taking a subscription.
Use the arrows to scroll through all available match plots. Click to enlarge.
Check the match plots page for plots of other matches.