Hoffenheim continued their remarkable season under their young managerial hotshot, Julian Nagelsmann, by brushing aside Hertha Berlin 3-1 on Friday night. The win now means Die Kraichgauer have collected their most ever Bundesliga points in a season, plus moves them into third place on the table.

Key to their triumph vs. Pal Dardai’s fellow top four hopefuls was the way they managed to prevent the home side from implementing their passing game out from the back. Using the Wyscout Playlist and Draw App, below will be some graphics to demonstrate how wonderfully Hoffenheim stifled their opposition.

Through a combination of zonal and man marking, Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim made life extremely difficult for Hertha to progress upfield with any degree of success. Andrej Kramaric and Sandro Wagner would usually allow Hertha’s centre-backs to have possession to begin with, initially sitting off in a medium block. But when a pass back to the goalkeeper, Rune Jarstein, would occur they would squeeze up and give themselves better, higher access to their markers.

The Match Analyst  Image-1-Hoffenheim-defensive-structure-squeeze

Created with Wyscout “Playlist and Draw” App

While in midfield, Sebastian Rudy and Kerem Demirbay would usually alternate the marking duties of Per Skjelbred and Niklas Stark, and Hoffenheim’s extra defender, Kevin Vogt, would often tightly mark the dropping movements of Hertha’s attacking midfielder, Vladimir Darida, when he looked to drop deep to provide an option. Meanwhile, the wingbacks would push up and create access to Hertha’s fullbacks.

The Match Analyst  Image-2-Vogt-Pressing-Darida

Created with Wyscout “Playlist and Draw” App

Courtesy of the two strikers penning the central defenders back, combined with the fact Hertha’s central midfielders and fullbacks often failed to drop adequately to support the first line, Hoffenheim were regularly able to force turnovers or pressure them into low percentage long balls forward.

The Match Analyst  Image-3-Hertha-disconnect-central-midfield

Created with Wyscout “Playlist and Draw” App

Hoffenheim’s well coordinated marking scheme was importantly accompanied with some well timed lateral shifting and pressing, with the latter being used particularly effectively by intelligently curving and angling their pressing to use their cover shadows to block off passing lanes into potential receivers.

The Match Analyst  Image-4-Wagner-Press-and-strong-structure

Created with Wyscout “Playlist and Draw” App

Subsequently, Nagelsmann’s side were able to largely monopolise possession to control proceedings in the hotly contested clash.
Although the game ultimately turned in Hoffenheim’s favour following Maximilian Mittelstadt’s red card in the second half, the aforementioned aspect of Hoffenheim’s gameplan was undoubtedly a pivotal factor in deciding the contest.

Edward Stratmann

Freelance football writer and blogger he writes regularly about the on-field aspects of the game, with a particular focus on tactics and analysis. In addition to featuring on several football websites, including AS Roma’s and Everton’s Official Websites, find his work at Licence to Roam, a football blog he co-founded in 2013.