Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Artwork by @chapulana

Florian Kohfeldt is another relatively young coach with current success in the Bundesliga. The head coach of Werder Bremen started his coaching career in the youth academy of the same club. From there, the 36-year-old – a Werder supporter since his childhood – made his way up to the head coach position. Moreover, Kohfeldt finished the UEFA Pro Level license with the best grades in 2015.

Besides the story lying beneath his success, Kohfeldt’s concepts are interesting too. He has established a dominant style of play in Bremen. The following analysis will explain some of his tactical tweaks at Werder Bremen.

Style of play and system

Similar to future RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, Kohfeldt uses different systems to enable his side to execute their own style of play against the opposition.

The German coach often mentions that he wants his side to act “bravely” with and without the ball. The overall aim of the German coach is to play in a dominant way independent of the opposition. Controlling areas  near the opposition goal and thereby creating more chances than their opponent is Bremen’s biggest objective.

Nevertheless, Kohfeldt likes to line up a single pivot behind two advanced midfielders. In general, Kohfeldt’s philosophy resembles of the typical Ajax style of play.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Bremen’s line up against Schalke with a back-four and a diamond shape in midfield [Credit: Wyscout]
Although Kohfeldt prefers to deploy a line of four at the back, he occasionally switches to a back three. That way, Kohfeldt tries to ensure that his side is capable of executing their principles.

Furthermore, Kohfeldt adapts to his key personnel. Playmaker and captain Max Kruse, for instance, is an attacker who likes to drop into midfield and create chances for his teammates. In order to allow Kruse to utilise his strengths, Kohfeldt mostly deploys a formation with a diamond midfield.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Werder play with a midfield diamond and two strikers in possession. As the central attacking midfielder, Kruse occasionally drifts towards the wings or drops into midfield.

Kohfeldt’s defensive concepts

In the opposition half, Werder press their opponents in a man-oriented way. As more space needs to be defended when pressing high up the pitch, Kohfeldt prefers a rather man-oriented approach than a ball-oriented strategy. That means that Werder attempt to create one-on-one situations to press the opposition as in the situation below.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Werder press Eintracht Frankfurt in a man-oriented way. Kohfeldt changed formation to a 3-4-3 which allows Bremen’s attackers and wing-backs to press man-to-man.

However, Werder successfully fall back into a lower block whenever they are unable to press. This can have different reasons. Either their midfield is overplayed, or they do not have enough players up front.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Werder dropped into their own half and set up a low block. Within their own half, Bremen attempted to decrease space between the lines for the opposition.

In both situations, Kohfeldt’s side drop to secure their own goal. Defending in their own half, Werder use a rather ball and space-oriented defending approach and attempt to keep space as small as possible with a compact shape.

Overloads and counter-movements

Through the usage of heavy overloads and counter-movements, Bremen try to penetrate the opposition defence. With off-the-ball movement, they can cause the opposition damage as their opponents struggle to get into duels.

Kohfeldt wants his attacking department to use counter-movements. Werder are thus able to create and occupy space between the lines since opposition defenders will need to react on the movement of Bremen’s attackers.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
The attacking players use counter-movements to create and occupy space within the opposition defensive block.

Werder use overloads in certain areas of the pitch. The creation of overloads results in two main attacking strategies. On the one hand, the players might be able to use a numerical superiority and combine through this area.

On the other hand, Bremen can attack down the flanks if the opposition outnumber Werder near the ball. With the help of overlapping runs of their full-backs, Werder are capable of playing around the block.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Werder overload the half-space and thereby create space on the wing. Right-back Gebre Selassie moves up the line and receives the ball behind the opposition midfield.

Last but not least, Kohfeldt wants his side to regularly switch play. After overloading one side of the pitch, Werder can then break through on the other side of the pitch.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Werder overload the right side, but Leverkusen prevent Bremen from penetrating by shifting towards the wing as a compact unit. As a consequence, Bremen switch sides.
Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
After switching play, Bremen can make the breakthrough in the left half-space.

Crosses to create chances

Once Werder have progressed up the pitch, Kohfeldt’s side use crosses as one of their key elements to create goalscoring opportunities.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Bremen have put in 461 crosses and 16.74 crosses per 90 minutes so far this Bundesliga season.

One of their players who often puts in crosses is Max Kruse. The playmaker likes to drift towards the left wing as the heat map below proves.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Although Max Kruse is lined up as a central player, his heatmap shows that he prefers to act on the left wing. [Credit: Wyscout]
This allows the former German international to put in crosses with his strong left foot.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Max Kruse puts in a cross onto the foot of striker Milot Rashica.

Contrary to other Bundesliga sides, Werder have a big variety in crosses which makes them unpredictable. As Werder’s attackers differ in their skill set, Bremen can make use of  different strengths. When their strikers are strong in aerial duels, they put in crosses to finish with headers as one can see below.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Kruse attempts to find Harnik with a high cross. Moreover, right-back Gebre Selassie joins the penalty area. Both players within the box are strong when it comes to aerial duels.

But Bremen can also play crosses behind the opposition back line.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Eggestein puts in a cross between last line of defence and goal. At the far post Kruse is capable of outrunning his direct opponent due to good timing and scores.

Last but not least, Bremen always position at least one advanced midfielder at the edge of the penalty area. This offers the additional opportunity to play back passes from the byline. In Maximilian Eggestein and Davy Klaassen, Bremen have players who can take dangerous shots from distance.

Transition moments

But Kohfeldt also lays much emphasis on the transition phases. As most sides with high possession rates, Werder (52,2%) execute counter-pressing after losing the ball under the reigns of their young manager. Similar to their high press, Bremen attempt to shut down every single opponent and thereby attempt to force the opposition to play long balls or even win possession in duels.

Furthermore, Kohfeldt wants his defenders to nip any counter-attack of the opposition in the bud. Therefore, the German coach uses clear behavioural patterns for his defenders. For instance, the wide players of the back-three are supposed to stay close to the opposition wingers during the attacking phase. This should enable Werder’s defenders to prevent opposition wide players from creating chances from counter-attacks.

Werder have also scored four goals from counter-attacks. However, as many of Bremen’s players lack pace, Werder execute a different counter-attacking strategy than most teams. They use short passes to attract opposition players and open up space.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Bremen’s players wait to be pressed to exploit the created space. That way, the Bundesliga side can make use of their midfield superiority.

Once their opponent has offered space, Werder utilise their midfield superiority to progress up the pitch. Although most of their counter-attacks do not seem fast, Werder perfectly penalise the opposition for opening up gaps.

Florian Kohfeldt Werder Bremen Tactical Analysis Statistics
Just a few seconds later, Werder’s attacking department get a promising 5v4 situation against Leverkusen’s disorganised defence.

Conclusion

Florian Kohfeldt definitely belongs to a small group of very talented coaches in the Bundesliga who might be interesting for European top clubs. However, it is also imaginable that he’ll stay in Bremen for a long time to begin a new era comparable to that of Thomas Schaaf. No matter what, it is sure that Florian Kohfeldt will definitely be a name one should remember.


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