At the start of the 2. Bundesliga season, both Bochum and Darmstadt were seen as potential dark horses in the race for promotion. However, neither could’ve predicted the start the duo has made to this campaign. Sitting in 17th and 15th respectively heading into matchday 8, the importance of taking all three points wasn’t lost on either side especially if those around them were able to win. Bochum entered on the back of a 1-1 draw in Sandhausen whilst Darmstadt were beaten by a resurgent Heidenheim outfit.

This tactical analysis takes a look at the matchup between Bochum and Darmstadt. How on two occasions Bochum managed to take a lead but once again failed to hold on as the points were shared.


2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

Thomas Reis was pleased with the performance of his side in Sandhausen and opted to name an unchanged side. Searching for a much needed offensive spark, Dimitrios Grammozis made the one change to the side which fell in Heidenheim. Marvin Mehlem coming in for Marcel Heller. Mehlem operating on the left of midfield with Tim Skarke switching flanks.

Playing narrow off the ball

A real feature of Darmstadt tactically under Grammozis is how narrow his sides play without possession. Keeping his side box to box in width, this ensures transition through the middle of the park isn’t possible. Forcing opponents to play wider to the full-backs, thus making it fair trickier to play with tempo. There are a couple of good examples of this structure in places as well what they do once the first defensive layer is penetrated.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

As a precursor to these tactics, when Bochum attacked through the middle, the spaces left vacated are those in wider areas. It’s an invitation for the full-backs of Bochum to push forward and join the attack. The hope for Darmstadt is for the opponent to play the ball out wide where the trap is created.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

The trap when forcing Bochum wide is then to compress the space, forcing the only outlet as one which sees the team in possession concede ground. As we see in another example, Darmstadt have pushed across to the far side of the pitch, Bochum with no space to make an attack centrally or down that flank or forced to retreat. The outlet is to go wide to the near side to which Darmstadt can shift quickly and reinforce a pass backwards.

Silvere Ganvoula focus

Striker Silvere Ganvoula has been the go-to guy for Bochum going forward, from the 13 goals scored this season the 23-yeard old has found the net on six occasions. That’s 46% of Bochum’s goals coming through the Congolese striker. But what does Ganvoula do to make himself an excellent target in the final third and how do they use the striker in other areas going forward.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

Ganvoula scored a brace against Darmstadt equalling the tallies of Arminia Bielefeld striker Fabian Klos and Wehen Wiesbaden’s Manuel Schäffler. It’s his predatory instincts stands out, making him hard to defend against in one-on-one situation on and off the ball. As Danny Blum goes wide to create space we see Ganvoula waiting at the edge of the area. The four closest Darmstadt defenders are all attracted to Blum creating the space the far post.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

Blum crosses into the box, as outlined before was the route to goal for Ganvoula to which he takes. Ganvoula doesn’t get drawn centrally were Simon Zoller, instead takes the back post option. His opponent in the initial frame is a known challenger allowing Ganvoula to have the simplest of finishes. Great movement off the ball, allowing the play to develop before making his move on goal.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

How about when Bochum are going forward? What situations do we expect to see Ganvoula feature in? It’s quite interesting to see this in play. Ganvoula plays as a the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, it’s quite common to see Ganvoula push wide to offer as an option. As mentioned earlier, Darmstadt play narrow without possession and as a result, Ganvoula pushes wide to offer as an option but also allowing Bochum to break down the opponent’s structure. This also allows Milos Pantović to push further forward and create another attacking option. In the image above, it’s quite common for Ganvoula to be the crosser and not the finisher.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

Ganvoula has also improved at holding up possession, one of the knocks on Ganvoula last season was his inability to maintain possession and allow Bochum to press forward. But this seems to have been rectified as he has improved in duels won from 38.5% to 40.1% and aerial duels won, from 45.8% to 50.9%. Again we see Ganvoula wide, which allows Pantović to be up top and Blum can overlap towards space. The improvement has been gradual statistically, but he has already shown his goal-scoring prowess and his importance to the Bochum set-up.

Darmstadt chances from crosses

Darmstadt didn’t create a lot of chances in this encounter, nine in total. However, they worked effectively going forward with the majority of their goal-scoring opportunities coming from crosses. Both goals scored were manufactured from a cross from the flanks and a set-piece from a crossing position of the pitch. This section of the analysis looks at how Darmstadt was able to exploit the Bochum defence with deliveries from wide areas.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

The first situation perfectly captures how Darmstadt was able to put this plan into practice. Fabian Holland is on the ball for Darmstadt and is looking for options, the match-up between Serdar Dursun and Simon Lorenz is one of interest. Lorenz is clearly ball watching, allowing Dursun to duck out the back. Whilst there is a reliance on Holland producing a good ball in, it’s dangerous from a defensive point of view to ball watch as well as losing your direct opponent.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

As the play develops, Holland plays an excellently weighted ball to Dursun who forces a good save out of keeper Manuel Riemann. The concerning factor is the space between Lorenz and Dursun as the striker heads the ball. Equally is the lack of cover, could Vitaly Janelt have helped by coming off his opponent to at least challenged Dursun in the air.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

This was one of a few positives for Darmstadt in this game and they were able to benefit from balls crossed in. The equaliser from Immanuel Höhn comes from a set-piece but the logistics are the same, a ball coming from a wide area and finding a wide-open Darmstadt player. Once again the Bochum defender is caught ball watching allowing Höhn out the back and available to attack the space.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

Ganvoula is late to react to the danger as Höhn fires into the back of the net. Darmstadt benefited greatly from crosses into the box and was unlucky to have not scored on more than one occasion. The real question is with the Bochum defence, it’s clear that Reis has implemented man-on-man yet Darmstadt players are finding themselves wide open.

Balancing the wing play

A feature of Bochum’s play under Robin Dutt was a reliance on attacking down the left-hand side. Left-back Danilo Soares was notorious for being apart of build-up play and making spirited runs during a quick attack. Through various overlaps out wide he on many occasions would be the player creating the cross into the box.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

As seen in the 3-3 draw with Arminia Bielefeld, almost half of the attacks have come from the Soares flank. However, with the signing of Cristian Gamboa only a few weeks ago as a free agent, Bochum have looked to make it a two-pronged attack going forward. Previously playing with Celtic, the Costa Rican has similar traits to Soares, attack-minded going forward and reliable on the ball.

2. Bundesliga 2019/20: Bochum vs Darmstadt tactical analysis tactics

The result of this has seen more involvement of possession down the right-hand side as shown in this game. It was a problem area for Bochum early in the season with Jordi Osei-Tutu playing in that right-back role, however, the player on loan from Arsenal was heavily exposed defensively. Gamboa offers the best of worlds, strong defensively but also an attacking full-back who provides a reliable option moving forward.


Bochum will be kicking themselves that once again they failed to hold onto a lead. It’s the second game in a row that the Ruhr club has conceded in the final 10 minutes of a game and it’s the fourth goal given up in that time. The defensive issues are glaring especially from crosses into the box where they were burnt from. Reis will have one on the international break which comes after their match with Heidenheim, a lot needs to be worked on for the back half of the Hinrunde.

Darmstadt should be happy with a point and could’ve easily have stolen the points at the end. They were able to exploit the wider areas going forward and were sound defensively. However, they were unable to curb the influence of Ganvoula and as a result, sit in the relegation play-off spot. Like Bochum, the international break doesn’t come quick enough.

Artwork by @chapulana

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