Olympiacos vs. Frankfurt Post Match Analysis: An Opportunity Lost
Our loss against Frankfurt is nowhere near a doomsday scenario. In the grand scheme of things, we realistically did not expect to get much out of the trip to Germany. As I mentioned on the show, our initial hopes were to get 4 or 5 points out of the first 3 matches. We expected a win against Antwerp, but we did not realistically expect to grab a win out of either Germany or Turkey. The surprise win in Turkey set us up better than we could have hoped and made this game against Frankfurt a relatively low risk affair. A win in Germany all but guaranteed qualification for knockouts while a loss still resulted with us in a good position and 2 home games on the back end. Like I said, not the end of the world.
The part that annoys me is the manner in which we played. Although I may be less frustrated with the result, there is still an expectation that the team will perform in a competitive manner. Unfortunately, this performance was our worst performance since Ludogorets.
It Starts with a Bad Setup
For some reason unbeknownst to me, Martins deviated from the plan that worked in Turkey. See below the lineups for Frankfurt (left) and Fenerbahce (right) per ESPN:
As you can see, we decided to deviate from our mid-block formation in Turkey with a return to the 4-3-3. In Turkey, Bouchalakis acted as an anchor between the midfield and defense to help close passing lanes and limit production through the midfield by Fenerbahce. This was appropriate given that we knew Fenerbahce would be on the attack. In Frankfurt, we deviated despite being faced with similar game script. Perhaps Martins listened to what Brian from the Hey Eintracht Frankfurt Podcast had to say about how awful their gameplay has been. Maybe this generated a false hope about what we could do in open play, but then that leads to another question. Why deploy the 4-3-3 when we have not used it all season? What about the 4-2-3-1 with Baby Camara at the 10?
Aside from the formation adjustment, Tiquinho was replaced by El Arabi and Aguibou Camara was shifted to the left, relegating Onyekuru to the bench. El Arabi’s replacement of Tiquinho meant a focus more on holdup than applying pressure to the opponent.
On a pure possession basis, we were dominated in the first half. In the second half we managed to see more of the ball after going down a goal, but we could not materialise anything remotely resembling a goal threat. Before you get excited about the .88 xG in 30-45 minute interval, .76 of that came from the PK. We created nothing. Even when we began to see more possession, our match tempo and quality of possession were poor. Our average possession play barely saw 3 passes with the average minute of pure possession barely totaling 15 passes. Frankfurt was not much better either. Roughly the same number of passes per possession and slightly higher match tempo. Their game plan revolved around the ingenuity of one man, Kostic.
This is what frustrates me the most about the match. Frankfurt was not a quality side. This was a side we could have easily competed with if we moved the ball forward properly. Unfortunately, we could not and did not. Things were not much better off the ball either.
This season our press has been quite awful. Not only are we slow to begin pressing but we hardly ever get into periods of high press. The first half especially, we seemed all too willing to let them dictate the pace of the game. As the first half wore on we did not see much intensity to try and break this either. Some of it was due to our consistent poor turnovers and perhaps inability to get back into the game. Unfortunately, the second half did not fare much better. Sure, our pressing intensity picked up in the beginning but it was never sustainable without changes. The changes came too late and by that point we were already 3-1 down.
Much Needed Turnaround against PAOK
Want to wash away the disappointment of midweek? Bring home a win against PAOK and secure our first place position. Maybe while we’re at it, give the midfielder that’s played almost 1500 minutes already this season A REST! Lastly, STICK WITH WHAT WORKS! Why must we constantly tinker with the lineups when we have a formula that works? If we keep it simple, go back to our roots, and properly rotate then we will vastly improve our chances of winning on Sunday!