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In this tactical analysis, we had an eye on the Bundesliga match between SC Freiburg and Werder Bremen. We provide you with an analysis of some tactics of both teams. Also, we show some statistics, which are important to understand the context. It was the game between the longest-serving coaches in Bundesliga. Christian Streich is being in office since 2011, while Florian Kohfeldt is being in office since 2017.

Both teams hoped for a win in this fourth matchday. While SC Freiburg had an overperforming season last year, Bremen were saved from dropping out of the league just in the final relegation playoffs. Freiburg started in this season with four points. But they lost their last match against Dortmund 4-0. Freiburg had some troubles in their defence, as they did not keep a clean sheet this season.

On the other side, Bremen started into this season well. They won their last two games and just lost against Hertha BSC Berlin on the first matchday. Bremen scored in every game so far. The return of the striker Niclas Füllkrug after his torn ACL is one reason.

The teams shared the points in the end with a 1-1. Freiburg had the better start, but after their second goal was revised, Bremen came on better and scored just a few minutes later. In the second half, both teams had phases to score another one.


Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

Coach Streich changed his formation back to his most likely 4-4-2 with a double pivot, with Vincenzo Grifo returning to the starting lineup. The set-pieces specialist came back punctual from the Italian national team. Manuel Gulde took a seat on the bench, as Streich had to withdraw a centre-back due to his formation change. Freiburg wanted to bank on their strength, which was also the weaknesses of Bremen. They backed on crosses and set-pieces with Grifo’s introduction. Furthermore, the back motion to the double pivot should strengthen the defence.

Coach Kohfeldt changed his formation also. He started his team in a 4-3-2-1 formation. The back four were to stabilise the team against crosses. In the offence, Bremen wanted to overload the half-spaces and the centre. It was the aim to achieve a numerical advantage in dangerous zones.

After the leaving of Davy Klaassen, who went back to Ajax, Bremen could not find any adequate replacement. Bremen lacked the money for a new playmaker. It was expected that Tahith Chong, who is on loan from Manchester United, to take the role of the playmaker. But Kohfeldt gave the homegrown talent Nick Woltemade a start.

Werder Bremen’s pressing on the left wing

Bremen had an expected goal value of 1.62. Especially in the first half, they produced a lot of opportunities. The stats say Bremen were expected to score 1.33 goals in the first half. One reason was Werder Bremen’s pressing in the first half. Here, they just allowed 7.3 passes per defensive action. They pressed especially on the left wing. Their target man to press was full-back, Jonathan Schmid. While they allowed 31.6 passes per defensive action in the second half, Bremen had just opportunities for 0.29 expected goals.

Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

This tactical analysis shows how Bremen pressed highly. Freiburg built up over the keeper. Füllkrug, the striker in the centre set the agenda. He ran firstly in a bow to the right side. With this move, he covered the passing alley to Freiburg’s right centre-back. As a consequence, he offered the left wing to the goalkeeper. The rest of Bremen’s offence already shifted to the right wing.

After Freiburg’s centre-back Philipp Lienhart got the ball, Bremen pressed actively. Josh Sargent set Lienhart under pressure. You can see how Werder Bremen left Schmid consciously uncovered. They also cover the closer pivot of Freiburg. Meanwhile, Leonardo Bittencourt faked a run to Schmid. This evadable opened the passing alley to Freiburg’s second pivot.

Lienhart made a cut back and due to his position angle to the ball, Bittencourt anticipated his idea. Bittencourt stopped his run to Schmid and crossed the passing alley to the central midfielder instead. Thereby, he won the ball and could enter the penalty area.

Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

The next image shows, how Bremen pressed again on the left wing. SC Freiburg built up again over Lienhart. This time, he played the pass to Schmid. The pass to Schmid was the pressing signal for Bremen.

Schmid did not have any further passing options in this scene. Having just one passing option makes your next move predictable. You can see how Bremen covered every passing option afterwards. This disadvantage was owed by the formations of both teams. Bremen compressed the centre and Freiburg did not shift the game fast enough to the wings. Thanks to Bremen’s formation, they covered both central midfielders of Freiburg. Also, they had one man from the three-man line, who filled the gap in the half-space.

After Schmid played the ball, Bremen compressed the spaces on the left wing. As they had a numerical advantage, they won the ball and started a counter-attack. This was how Bremen created opportunities in the first half.

Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

This situation is quite similar to the previous situation. Again, Lienhart passed to Schmid. Bremen marked every passing option for Schmid. The difference to the scene above was the option of Lucas Höler in the half-space. He dropped to offer another option. But here was Kohfeldt’s formation effective. Bremen was still not in a numerical disadvantage. They produced one-on-one situations near the ball. Höler played a poor pass, and Bremen won possession back.

SC Freiburg exploited spaces at the right wing for crosses

Werder Bremen pressed decently. This lasted Bremen primary. So, Freiburg booked 64% possession and in the first 15 minutes even 80% in the statistics. Bit by bit, Streich’s team improved in their combinations. They knew about Bremen’s weakness in defending crosses. And Bremen’s 4-3-2-1 formation actual provide spaces on the wings. Freiburg just needed to shift the game quicker. Or in other words, they need to quick enough, to prevent Bremen’s pressing on the wings.

Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

The analysis above shows how Freiburg exploited the spaces on the wings. You can see, how Bremen’s formation was organised. They compressed the centre again. Freiburg had possession in the left half-space. Now, they played a deciding pass. They shifted the game over Lienhart to the right wing. Freiburg’s full-backs stood high to gain some space in the opponent half. Thanks to Bremen’s formation and Freiburg’s quick shift, the passing alley to Schmid was free. Schmid got the ball flat, so he could control it easily.

Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

Now you can see what Freiburg did at next. Schmid looked up for playing a cross. He did not run down the line, because Freiburg wanted to stretch Bremen’s last line. Bremen’s full-back Ludwig Augustinsson moved out of the last line to block the crossing.

Also, the run route of Freiburg’s winger Roland Sallai was important. He ran towards the corner flag. Thereby, he occupied Bremen’s centre-back. He forced him to move out of the centre, which gained space for Nils Petersen. Gebre Selassie covered Petersen actually, but Petersen recognised the situation earlier. Moreover, Bremen’s second centre-back did not notice Petersen in his shadow. Freiburg’s striker pushed in front of the centre-back and finished with a header.

Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

The next analysis shows the same tactic of Freiburg. They had possession on the right wing again. Freiburg also played a cross before the edge of the penalty area. This time, Sallai played the cross. Höler ran a route to the corner flag, too. And also, the centre-back moved away from the centre to cover Höler. Werder Bremen could have disturbed Sallai with three players. The yellow lines show these players.

In front of the goal, also the same situation happened. Petersen was quicker in the head as Selassie and Miloš Veljković did not notice Petersen. This was the scene, which resulted in the corner for Freiburg’s goal.

Werder Bremen at corners

Let’s jump in the situation for Freiburg’s goal. It was a corner from the right side. We will have a specific look at Bremen’s style of defending. This tactical analysis below shows the situation.

Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

You can see that Bremen had five players plus the keeper into six-yard zone. They were defending in the room with an orientation to the ball. This means, that they shifted to the position where the ball dropped. Then, there was also a player, namely Bittencourt, who covered the player, who kicked in the corner. And three players of Bremen were man-marking opponents. Nobody was positioned at the posts.

The big advantage of defending in the room is that the role allocation is clearly distributed. Therefore, you need good communication in the team and players, who are strong in the air. Both centre-backs, Selassie and Füllkrug are players like that.

On the other side, this tactic is susceptible to flicked on balls. The whole block shifts to the direction of the ball. To avoid overlooking an opponent in the penalty area, Bremen played also with man-marking players. So, this is a kind of hybrid model. But the problem was, that Bremen overlooked Höler at the second post. He was completely unmarked. This mistake is the result of miscommunication or of being unconcentrated. The ball was flicked to him and he shot undisturbed. Lienhart deflected the ball into the goal.

Bundesliga 2020/21 - SC Freiburg vs Werder Bremen - tactical analysis - tactics

On the other side of the pitch, Bremen were also creative. They had a corner on the left side. Compared to Bremen, Freiburg defended with man-marking. They had just one player in the centre who did not cover anyone. Bremen had seven players around the penalty box. Two players crossed their routes in front of the goalkeeper. This action should cause a disturbance. Also, it should limit the goalkeeper’s sight. Then the player, who might back zone 14, ran a route to the first post. And finally, Bremen organised four players at one spot, including Füllkrug.

Füllkrug was the target man. The rest of the players at the spot created a mess so that Füllkrug could get into the header in a one-on-one. His route is the red one. Two of the players at the spot moved out of the box to prohibit counter-attacks. The third one went behind the second post to gain space in the centre. Füllkrug ran into this space and headed it over the bar. But he was in a one-on-one duel.


All in all, the draw between Freiburg and Bremen was fair. Both teams can survive with a point. Kohfeldt’s XI scored at the right moment to come back. They pressed their opponent especially on the left wing in the first half. But if Freiburg outplayed the pressing, Streich’s team could exploit the spaces on the wings. Then they played dangerous crosses. Bremen still have problems with crosses into the penalty area. Finally, both teams did not demonstrate enough penetrating power in front of the goal.

Werder Bremen are now in the seventh place, while Freiburg stays on the tenth place. Freiburg will face Union Berlin next week. Bremen can expand their pillow of points to the relegation spots against Hoffenheim at home next week.