Autumn champion FC St. Pauli in the data check: that’s enough for the ascent

Status: 07.12.2021 9:00 a.m.

Best second division team of the calendar year and now autumn champions ahead of schedule: At the front runner FC St. Pauli, things are going well. What makes the Kiezkicker so strong and why could it be enough for promotion to the Bundesliga? The data analysis provides the answers.

by Matthias Heidrich

The Millerntor went wild in bad weather in Hamburg: Than that 2: 1 against FC Schalke 04 was sealed, the eighth win in the eighth home game for the Kiezkicker, there was no stopping. Almost 20,000 fans, who were allowed to be there again despite the new Corona rules, the coaching team and players celebrated, you can’t put it another way, ready for promotion.

After 31 points in the previous second half of the season, there are now 35 in the current first half of the season. “After 16 match days, the table doesn’t lie,” the common soccer fan would say about the front runner. Second division top scorer Guido Burgstaller, who scored both goals against Schalke, rather not.

“We know that we can’t buy anything from it yet and that we have to work hard to achieve success like this. We are all very down-to-earth guys.”
Guido Burgstaller

“Can opener” Burgstaller, high-flyer Kyereh

The fact that the Austrian, who came to Hamburg from Gelsenkirchen of all places, is one of the key players in the “Boys in brown” soaring, is obvious with 14 goals this season and four assists in 16 games. The 32-year-old scored 1-0 against Schalke for the third time in a row.

Burgstaller is St. Pauli’s “can opener”. His “performance score” of 57.33 – the current level of play – shows him currently as the third best second division attacker, behind Paderborn’s Sven Michel (58.00) and Schalke’s Simon Terodde (57.78).

VIDEO: Burgstaller’s renaissance at FC St. Pauli (1 min)

Burgstaller alone cannot fix it and doesn’t have to do it in this very well composed St. Pauli team: Daniel-Kofi Kyereh – “Performance Score” 58.44 – is the strongest offensive midfielder in the league, Luca-Milan Zander (57.56) number one right-back.

On the other hand, Leart Paqarada (58.89) reliably delivers as the second-best left, while central defender Jakov Medic (58.67) ranks fourth in the league. And keeper Nikola Vasilj (53.57) also performs well as the fifth best goalkeeper.

St. Paulis play area: controlled, but creative

Alpha animal trainer Otto Rehhagel and the mischievous East Frisian Timo Schultz have little in common at first glance. At St. Pauli’s playground, however, the observer feels reminiscent of the golden Werder years under “King Otto”: Rehhagel coached Bremen with a controlled offensive to success in the 1980s and 90s, the Kiezkicker will be similar in 2021.

Graphic: The secret of FC St. Pauli's success © NDR

St. Pauli wants to control the game and mostly does so. Across the league, the Schultz-Elf have the fourth-most possession on average per game, both in minutes (27.2) and in percent (53%) – only the northern trio HSV (32.28 / 63%), Holstein Kiel (30.33 / 56%) and – Otto sends his regards – Werder Bremen (28.01 / 55%) is better here.

When the Kiezkicker play forward, it has got hands and feet. With an average of just under eight goal shots after controlled attacks per game (7.94), they are the second best team. Only Werder is better (8.13). St. Pauli adds the creativity factor to game control. With an average of 5.13 key passes per match, they play the third most – behind HSV (5.73) and Bremen (5.31). The league average is 3.6. Persecutor Darmstadt, for example, only manages 3.75 of these important actions per game.

The effective offensive machine from Millerntor

If it goes into the last third of the game, St. Pauli is strong anyway. The brown-whites penetrate the opponent’s penalty area more than 18 times per game – second place after HSV with almost 20 actions in the opposing penalty area. The same order of the “expected goals”: St. Pauli with 1.83 second, HSV with 2.25 league top. But this shows the difference: With 2.25 goals per game, the Millerntor-Elf exceeded their own expectations, while the city rivals disappointed with 1.69 goals. The top of the league ahead of St. Pauli is Darmstadt with 2.38.

From the point of view of the competition, St. Pauli is disgustingly effective, scoring 2.19 points per game. The Kiezkicker surpass the league average of 1.37 by lengths, Darmstadt as the second best team only manages 1.81. St. Pauli’s “Expected points” value of 1.66 shows how the league primus is currently outperforming itself.

Pressing is overrated, duels too …

The downside of the Millerntor medal are too many ball losses in their own half (14.88 per game, the league average is 14.26), a weak header game (only 22.19 won air duels, league average 26.04) and in total mediocre to poor pressing values ​​(efficiency only at 43.54%, ranked twelfth in the team comparison, league average 43.73%).

The latter obviously has a system at St. Pauli. In the “build-up without pressing”, that is, without conquering the ball beforehand, the Hamburg team took fourth place in the league with 17.75 actions (average 15.35). Aggression is not the top priority for the Schultz team.

St. Pauli tries to avoid exhausting duels by controlling the game and acts “with an eye” in the purest soccer language. League-wide, the Kiezkicker lead the third few duels (155.56 per game), but when they go into the infight, they do it right: Eighth place in the total rate of duels won (49.98%), even fourth place in successfully fought defensive duels (56th place) %) – although St. Pauli leads only a few of them in the league (75 on average). This leads to the conclusion that captain Philipp Ziereis and Co. solve many situations at an early stage through good positional play and clever tactical behavior.

St. Pauli has the best opportunities for advancement

Without a doubt, a lot is going really well in the St. Pauli system. So does it also amount to promotion to the Bundesliga? Based on the “expected goals” and “expected points” values: yes. Accordingly, St. Pauli has a 60 percent chance of promotion, the highest of all clubs. Darmstadt (42%), Schalke (31%) and HSV (30%) follow in the rankings.

For those fans who don’t stick with the data too much, the “meaningless” autumn championship may also give hope. 27 of 39 second division autumn champions were promoted to the Bundesliga at the end of the season. Recently, there were also three north clubs with Eintracht Braunschweig, Holstein Kiel and HSV who failed. The latter twice. The Kiezkicker certainly don’t want to emulate that.

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Sports club | 12/12/2021 | 10:50 p.m.

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Autumn champion FC St. Pauli in the data check: that’s enough for the ascent