A football game is now measured and at least partially decoded with an almost absurd number of metrics, and surprisingly, sometimes it works absolutely fantastically. If you had dared to experiment on Saturday afternoon in Stuttgart, ignoring what was happening down on the pitch and just looking at the so-called live stats, you would have fully understood the clarity of this football game without even seeing any action.
In all relevant, measurable areas, this energetic, unyielding, playful VfB Stuttgart, under the direction of coach Sebastian Hoeneß, prevailed against Borussia Dortmund. They had almost 60 percent of ball possession, fired 22 shots, played more passes, won more dribbles and, according to the statisticians who try to calculate the much-quoted value of expected goals, should have actually scored 3.97 goals. BVB, on the other hand, led solely in the number of saves, thanks to goalkeeper Gregor Kobel, but also thanks to the ten players in front of him, all of whom contributed to Kobel being able to fly through his goal again and again.
The Stuttgart team initially lacked nothing – except a real goalscorer
You have to imagine the statistics fan as a happy person when a game like this ends 2-1 and the most relevant of all statistics – the number of goals shown on the scoreboard – speaks for the deserved winner even with fewer goals than expected. But this person can’t be completely satisfied, because to explain Stuttgart’s home win against Dortmund with the dominant numbers mentioned would be a fatal fallacy.
In order to better understand this 2-1 and how it came about, you need to take a look at a run in the 66th minute of the game that immediately caught the eye of VfB attacker Chris Führich. “You could already tell what was going on here in the stadium when Serhou just ran to the bench,” said Führich, who strangely enough didn’t seem too unhappy about being substituted in the 67th minute. That had nothing to do with him in the first place, but just like the Swabian audience, it wasn’t lost on him that VfB didn’t lack a single statistical parameter for two thirds, but they did lack a striker like Serhou Guirassy.
With one exception, the Stuttgart team more or less miserably missed all of their beautifully created chances. Führich – as a native of Westphalia, was aware of the start of the carnival in his home country – missed on November 11th. In the eleventh minute, we took a penalty from eleven meters. Jamie Leweling’s shots also turned into back passes, which is why a big question mark appeared over the heads of the statisticians and the spectators on site in the middle of the first half when Dortmund took the lead out of nowhere: Niclas Füllkrug took advantage of the Stuttgart central defender Dan -Axel Zagadou didn’t clear a low cross in the 36th minute, but instead opened his shins just enough for the ball to slip through.
Perhaps the most classic striker of his time should demonstrate the abstinence of his Stuttgart equivalent; that would have been an unparalleled act of meanness. However, Füllkrug also suffered from the fact that BVB’s problems with the nine players who were on the field between Kobel and him were so significant that VfB could simply carry on: they created chance after chance until half-time and then scored but one more. Deniz Undav’s equalizer in the 42nd minute was the result of another brilliant move.
In the 83rd minute, Guirassy came on again – and safely converted the penalty
However, the fact that Guirassy was back at the end of these combinations from the middle of the second half after weeks of absence turned out to be surprisingly irrelevant for several minutes. He didn’t really achieve much from the game and yet it can be seen in a very simple way how much VfB differs from VfB with its best striker: three different shooters (including Führich) missed penalties in three games In the 83rd minute, Guirassy came on again – and converted safely, which was the successful final point of an excellent game for his team.
This Bundesliga season, after a post-Lewandowski year with remarkably few striker goals, it has seemingly decided to put the focus back on the characters in the front position. Harry Kane stands for it in Munich, Serhou Guirassy in Stuttgart. Both have a remarkable goal rate in common – and that they destroyed Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga season within a week.
You could also deduce BVB’s situation in the Bundesliga with all sorts of statistics, but in reality the 1:2 was the second desolate performance in a row – which would probably have been just as clear as the 0:4 against FC Bayern if Guirassy had like Kane, had 90 minutes (and a little more fitness). As it is, Dortmund are left quite helpless – even with the reigning top scorer Füllkrug as a striker, whose words ultimately resonated more clearly than his actions in the 1-0 win.
“Unfortunately, you have to be so honest that we were shown our limits against many good teams,” said Füllkrug on Sky: “We deserved to lose, on many levels today.” The words were right, the aside that “the approach” was wrong could even be seen as a subtle criticism of the coach. Only: Edin Terzic didn’t really want to hear it: “We’re leaving the chance to sort things out on the pitch instead of afterwards at the microphone.”