The importance of Sebastian Rudy in Hoffenheim’s Build-Up
Sebastian Rudy has unquestionably been one of the key driving forces behind Hoffenheim’s excellent Bundesliga campaign so far under budding young manager Julian Nagelsmann. And in his side’s domineering 5-2 win against Ingolstadt on the weekend, the man who’ll be joining Bayern Munich next season once proved his worth, with his importance in Die Kraichgauer’s build-up shining through especially brightly.
Due to Ingolstadt being intent on tightly marking him, with Almog Cohen usually sticking to him, Rudy’s intelligent movement saw him persistently gain separation from his man to receive possession.
By performing constant blindside checks, Rudy could get a good gauge of where his opponent was in any given situation, tailoring his movement accordingly whenever Cohen had a slight lapse in concentration.
Rudy’s cunning lateral, diagonal and vertical movement ensured he was a very challenging proposition to keep quiet, in a match where his astute positioning saw him find advantageous scenarios to pick up possession with ease.
Often venturing into left of centre areas and the left half space to form triangles and diamonds with Kerem Demirbay (or Marco Terrazzino), Steven Zuber and Benjamin Hubner, this tactic was very fruitful for his side. In doing so, Rudy and his colleagues could create overloads with their numerical superiority and slick combination play to comfortably bypass Ingolstadt’s defensive structure to advance upfield cleanly.
Knowing that he possesses such a terrific first touch, his teammates didn’t hesitate passing to him if there was an opponent within a couple of metres, well aware of his capacity to retain possession or dribble away in confined spaces.
Indeed, Rudy’s certainly a player that relishes being placed under pressure, as he’ll hold onto the ball as long as possible before releasing it. This allows him to successfully provoke a press from his adversary, thus disrupting the opposition’s defensive structure and creating vital space behind the presser.
The example above shows his aptitude in this regard nicely. Here, as Rudy inherits the ball, two Ingolstadt players immediately begin to close him down, but courtesy of his composure, press resistance, vision and perfect body position, he’s able to turn away from danger rapidly and progress his team’s attack with an incisive pass to a teammate (shown in second image).
The heartbeat of the Hoffenheim midfield, Rudy’s exquisite variations in movement gave him the ideal platform to put his tremendous playmaking abilities from deep to great use. Moreover, scoring a sensational long range goal and supplying an assist for Adam Szalai’s header served as a fitting reward for his impressive body of work.
In Rudy, Hoffenheim not only have a fantastic outlet to implement their passing game through, just as he did against Die Schanzer, but also a fantastic man to lead them in their quest for a spot in the coveted UEFA Champions League next season.
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.