Florian Grillitsch has been one of the standout performers for Hoffenheim under new boss Alfred Schreuder. The Austrian has become integral to their style of play both in attack and defence. The 24-year-old is a key link between defence and attack, playing as the deepest central midfielder in Hoffenheim’s midfield trio. This tactical analysis aims to look at Grillitsch’s style of play, tactical influence and skills through analysis.

Who is Florian Grillitsch?

Florian Grillitsch made his debut for Werder Bremen in 2015-16 season aged 20. He went on to make 54 appearances for the club, scoring four goals and recording six assists. Grillitsch transferred to Hoffenheim in the 2017-18 season.  Grillitsch has made 72 appearances for Hoffenheim thus far, scoring thrice and assisting six goals.  Apart from this, the midfielder has also been capped 14 times for his national team, Austria.

Style of play 

Grillitsch is very much the modern defensive midfielder in his tactical awareness, intelligence, stamina and physicality. In modern football, a defensive midfielder is also expected to possess the technical ability to passes well, a trait which Grillitsch possesses in abundance. Grillitsch is a perfect fit for Hoffenheim’s many systems. His systemic versatility makes him one of the first names on the team sheet as this tactical analysis will show.

Under the previous coach Julian Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim used to play a three-man defence. In this system, Grillitsch was very often played as the deep-lying midfielder who was tasked with shielding the defence as the wing-backs ventured up the pitch. A noticeable trait of Grillitsch’s play is his ability to receive the ball from the defence and spread it to the players ahead of him, illustrating his technical proficiency.

In Schreuder’s system, Hoffenheim play a midfield trio. This has seemingly brought out the best of Grillitsch’s skills. With extra insurance in the form of Sebastian Rudy and Dennis Geiger alongside him, Grillitsch is more aggressive with his pressing and tackling. However, when Hoffenheim are kept in their own half, the Austrian comfortably maintains his positioning and at times can even slip into the defence to form a trio with the centre-backs.

Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
Here Grillitsch can be seen dropping into the defence to form a trio.

Based on the situation, Grillitsch decides whether to venture forward or maintain his positional discipline. Luckily, the Austrian has the pace to recover even if he is caught slightly out of position.

Uncompromising defensive midfielder 

While in the initial period of his career his role was largely as a ball-winner, Grillitsch has emerged as a reliable deep-lying playmaker for his side. This has happened without compromising on his defensive duties.  Grillitsch, on average, wins 6.3 duels, makes 3.6 interceptions and recovers the ball five times every game. Apart from this, he also boasts an impressive passing accuracy of 89%, attempting around 37 passes per 90 minutes in a side that does not dominate possession too often.

At Hoffenheim, Grillitsch has a vital role in his side’s midfield. As the most agile midfielder among the trio, Grillitsch is tasked with not just shielding his centre-backs from central attacks but also covering the wide areas if the full-backs venture up the pitch. When Hoffenheim are hit on the counter, Grillitsch is pivotal in preventing the opposition’s wingers from acting as outlets for the counter. His no-nonsense approach helps to snuff out the threat at the earliest as is shown in the following analysis.

Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
As his heatmap indicates, Grillitsch covers a lot of ground, not just centrally, but also on the flanks to shield the defence. He also ventures forward at times
Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
In this instance, the opposition player seeks to take the ball to the touchline to cross but Grillitsch maintains the pressure on him, forcing it out of play
Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
Despite Hoffenheim having possession, Grillitsch is careful not to venture too far ahead. He keeps close to the opposition’s primary outlet if they counter
Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
Due to his foresight, the opposition fail to counter and Grillitsch wins the ball back

Playmaking ability

Florian Grillitsch is an astute passer who very rarely gives the ball away. His passing is largely restricted to teammates close to him but the Austrian also attempts cross-field passes and through-balls if the opportunity arises. Grillitsch is the first piece of the puzzle in Hoffenheim’s efforts to beat the opposition’s press. The rotational movement between him, Rudy and Geiger enables them to find pockets of space between the lines and therefore bypass the opposition’s pressing. Grillitsch frequently positions himself between the opposition’s attacking line and midfield. He receives the ball from the defence before quickly passing it to his teammates in midfield or to the full-back closest to him.

Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
Grillitsch plays a cross-field pass which finds the full-back who has made a run
Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
Grillitsch perfectly bisects the opposition’s defence with an incisive pass
Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
In this sequence, Grillitsch attracts pressure from two midfielders, freeing up his teammate to make a run
Due to the space created, Grillitsch can then find a teammate with a ball over the top
Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
Grillitsch positioned between the lines

Understanding of the game

The Austrian’s understanding of the game, his awareness and tactical aptitude enable him to be one step ahead of the opposition at all times. This is the reason behind his exceptional defensive numbers, especially when it comes to interceptions and ball recoveries. Standing at 1.87 metres tall, the midfielder is also an imposing presence in the middle of the pitch, using his strength and stature to trouble the opposition’s attackers. His instinct in predicting a quick pass or counter-attack is the deciding factor behind his effectiveness as a defensive midfielder.

Florian Grillitsch 2019/20- scout report- tactical analysis tactics
Grillitsch intercepts the ball before the opposition player can get to it

This positional awareness also benefits Hoffenheim’s attack, as he is extremely press-resistant, accurate with his passing and can find his teammates in spaces without risking losing possession.

At times, Grillitsch can be a bit reluctant to push forward, even when Hoffenheim seek to pressurize the opposition and keep them in their own half. Grillitsch has the ability to play as a box-to-box midfielder but the role of a ball-winner and deep-lying playmaker suits him best. The Austrian is a consistent performer for his side and Hoffenheim would be a lesser side without him.

Conclusion

In conclusion, as this scout report and tactical analysis has shown, Florian Grillitsch is absolutely essential to Hoffenheim’s tactics and their approach to games. The Austrian midfielder is an integral cog in their midfield, shielding the defence and keeping the ball moving in the attack. Apart from this, Grillitsch also has the ability to execute ambitious passes, find spaces between the opposition’s lines and score an odd goal himself from time to time. Grillitsch has the potential to develop into a key player even at sides bigger than Hoffenheim and if he keeps this form up it is only a matter of time before he does so.


If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Buy your copy of the October issue for just ₤4.99 here