Energie Cottbus 2-1 VfL Bochum

The starting formations.

Energie Cottbus came from behind to inflict a third away defeat of the season on mid-table Bochum, move into the top five in the process.

After a frantic opening few minutes, Cottbus got the ball down and settled into a pattern of starting short and inviting pressure.

Bochum kept their North Korean striker Jong Tae-Se sprinting after whichever defender had the ball, but stationed the rest of the team behind halfway.

With Cottbus insisting on slowly bringing the ball out and assessing which of the eight players in the opponent’s half was the best option, they left themselves open at the back.

Initially, Bochum looked to take advantage here by scooping over the top for Jong to chase, but the former Kawasaki Frontale frontman was isolated, and flopping too readily.

As this gave the visitors no territorial advantage, the home side’s grip on the game strengthened, and the chances were all their’s.

Cottbus formed a melina square involving the central defenders and midfielders, and in response to this, Bochum narrowed accordingly.

However, Cottbus could now get their full-backs pounding forward and crossing. Bochum seemed particularly exposed at left-back, and a number of crosses were put into the corridor of uncertainty from this area.

Just as lethal a weapon for the home side was Daniel Adlung. With Daniel Ziebig keeping the left-sided width, Adlung could veer inside and link up with the classy Romanian Emil Jula.

Realising that this was a gap through which Cottbus were succeeding, Friedhelm Funkel instructed the 4-1-4 to stand nearer the box-edge, no more than 15 metres apart. Jong was still told press the centre-backs, but Bernardo now had time to assess what he wanted to do with the ball after breaching the halfway line.

Pockets of space now conspicuous by their absence, Cottbus had just two options with the ball; one of which, involving scooping into the box for one of the mobile forwards, saw Jula nearly open the scoring.

The Cottbus melina.

The other option was to pass sideways to a full-back who’d then try and dribble through, seeking a one-two with any member of the fluid attacking quartet.

But this was easy for Bochum to close down, and they started winning fouls in key areas of the Cottbus half after launching some stinging breaks.

One of these chances even gave them the lead – but quite how an unpressurised Jula managed to head Faton Toski’s tame free-kick over his own goalkeeper is a mystery.

Although Cottbus’s players had been operating on the same wavelength (and were slicker with the first-time passing), it was the visitors who’d looked more streetwise in attack, and in this sense you could argue their lead was deserved.

After the break, Cottbus coach Claus-Dieter Wollitz amended his tactics by trying to involve his central-midfielders more.

Now, when the centre-backs brought the ball out, he had the full-backs, wingers, and forwards positioned on or near the chalk.

Although the idea was to prise open the centre of the pitch and give the midfield time and space, it played into Bochum’s hands. By tackling the midfielders instantly, the blue-shirted players didn’t necessarily have to follow the red-shirted opposition onto the flanks. And with the ball retrieved, there was space in which to attack as a unit.

The visitors were wasteful with their chances, however, and paid the price for not putting the game to bed. Cottbus had already had a multitude of set-pieces, but in the first half, the players attacking the ball made life too easy for Bochum’s zonal marking system.

So when Cottbus began attacking the – consistently good – corner-kicks, Bochum could no longer let the crosses trickle to safety. Instead, they were forced into clearing their lines.

The second-half tactics; Cottbus forcing Bochum into a 5-3-2.

Funkel’s side were immediately shown to be pretty inept at this, and when Jules Reimeirink scooped a second-ball back into the box, 2. Bundesliga top-scorer Nils Petersen headed in his ninth goal of the season.

With Bochum narrowing their midfield to halt Cottbus’s, and dropping Dabrowski in as a third centre-back, Wollitz responded by changing his side’s style again. He retained the body-dragging shape, but instead got the centre-backs to lump it forward earlier.

This paid off in the 67th minute when the ball was flicked on for Adlung’s well-timed ghost into the box. Rather like the first goal, Bochum were punished for not knowing when to step out and play offside.

The icing on the Brandenburg battenburg was set in the 88th minute when Jong’s penalty was saved. Paul Freier, sporadically a handful, had drawn a lunge from Takahito Soma in the box, winning the set-piece.

But for all Freier and Bochum’s attacking territory and purpose in the closing stages, Cottbus held on for their third home win of the season.

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