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The season so far – part 2

The football year 2019 came to an end for the Boys in Brown a week ago, so time for a look back at the first half of the season. Where did things go well? And where is there still room for improvement?


The Boys in Brown contested 3,653 duels in the first part of the campaign, the league's fourth highest total. With 49.7 per cent of duels won, they occupy 11th place in this category. The best tackling team was VfB Stuttgart with 52.5 per cent, the worst FC Nürnberg with 47.5 per cent. Strangely enough, league leaders Arminia Bielefeld were involved in the fewest duels of any team in the league in the first 17 games (2,950) yet won 52 per cent of them.


With a total distance covered of 1,940.28 kilometres, Jos Luhukay's side finished the first half of the season in a solid midfield place in the running stats. Arminia Bielefeld, with 1,999.6 km, ran the furthest, SV Sandhausen, with 1,889.13, the least. On average, Bielefeld outran Sandhausen by 6.5 km every game.


Whereas the Boys in Brown were among the top six teams in terms of effectiveness in front of goal in the first quarter of the season, they gradually tailed off and eventually finished the first 17 games with just 21 goals scored and a chance conversion rate of 13.4 per cent. Only five teams registered less often, and only six recorded a worse chances-to-goals ratio. Arminia Bielefeld were the most effective team in the first half of the campaign, taking an impressive 21.5 per cent of their opportunities to finish on 35 goals.


When it comes to passing, Jos Luhukay's charges finished the first half of the campaign just above halfway in eighth place, finding a teammate with 81.9 per cent of their passes. In terms of passing in the opposition half, the Boys in Brown came in sixth with 81.6 per cent. Leading the way in both categories after 17 games were VfB Stuttgart. A good pass completion rate does not necessarily translate into a good placing, however, as demonstrated by Dynamo Dresden, Erzgebirge Aue and VfL Osnabrück. The completion rates of Osnabrück (80.1 per cent) and Aue (78.7 per cent) were good enough for 12th and 15th place respectively in this ranking, yet in the league table they occupy places five and six. Dresden, on the other hand, sit bottom of the table despite an impressive pass completion rate of 84.9 per cent.


Getting down the flanks and scoring from the resulting crosses is something the Boys in Brown struggled to do in the first half of the season. On the one hand, they delivered just 142 crosses into the opposition box (fewer than any other team); on the other, no other team found a teammate less often with balls into the danger area. Just 24 crosses (16.9 per cent) found a taker in the middle.


Defending corner balls has not exactly been our strong point so far. As many as six of the 23 goals we have conceded resulted from a corner. At the other end of the pitch, the Boys in Brown won a total of 102 corners, the third highest number of any team. These corners produced just a solitary goal, however, Dimitrios Diamantakos scoring at Dresden from one taken by Mats Møller Dæhli, who took the most corners (44) for us in the first 17 games. The most prolific team from a corner ball was Karlsruher SC (ten goals from 99 corners), as the Boys in Brown discovered to their cost. In Holstein Kiel and Greuther Fürth, two teams failed to score at all from a corner.


While two thirds of all teams registered more goals in the second half than in the first, Jos Luhukay's side were among a small group of five teams who struck more often before the break, scoring 13 in the first 45 period and just eight in the second. The Boys in Brown were at their most dangerous between the 16th and 30th minutes, when they found the net seven times. Weirdly enough, FC Heidenheim scored just four goals in the first half and a whopping 20 in the second. In terms of goals conceded, our record was like that of most teams in that we shipped more in the second half (14) than in the first (9). Most of our goals were contributed by the strikers (11). Midfielders scored eight times and there was one own goal. James Lawrence was the only defender to get on the scoresheet (in the 2-1 home win over Holstein Kiel).

Opening goals for and against

The Boys in Brown managed to take the lead nine times in the first half of the season but went on to win on just four occasions. Four games finished all square, and just one ended in defeat, a last-minute goal condemning them to a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart. In the reverse scenario, Jos Luhukay's side conceded the opening goal eight times. Disappointingly, they failed to come from behind to win any of those games. A point was salvaged just twice in the 1-1 draws at Osnabrück and versus Bochum. Even more disappointing was the failure to convert a two-goal lead over Karlsruhe into victory at the Millerntor, while even a three-goal lead was not enough to secure a win at Dresden.


Photos: Witters