Julian Nagelsmann: The young maestro, who has taken Bundesliga by storm
Julian Nagelsmann: The baby-faced tactical genius who reshaped German football.
A thinking player on the sidelines can be as dangerous as in the pitch, ask Barcelona fans from the Guardiola phase.The danger is even more when the player has unfulfilled dreams on the pitch and ensures that his team achieves something special, something which he himself could not do.
One such story is about TSG 1899 Hoffenheim manager, the ever growing Julian Nagelsmann. The 29 year old manager was born in a Bavarian town named Landsberg am Lech. He had a natural defensive instinct inside him and started playing football at a very early age.
He played for various Bundesliga outfits such as TSV 1860 Munich and Fc Augsburg. However, unfortunately his playing career came to an abrupt end and the defender had to retire at an age of only 20, due to sequential knee injuries. But still Nagelsmann continued his studies in Sports Science and was tutored the strategies of the game by former FC Augsburg manager Thomas Tuchel, also worked there as a scout under him.
He later started his managerial career in 2012 when he joined TSG Hoffenheim as a assistant coach. He became the youngest Bundesliga assistant manager at the age of 25.His managerial brilliance was recognised and he was handed his first professional contract as a full time manager, as he took charge of Hofenheim’s U-19 side in 2013/14 season and in his very first season he showed his class and complemented the team to win the Bundesliga U-19 championship.
FC Bayern also tried to lure him from Hoffenheim to coach their U-23 side but it resulted in a rejection. Soon the young coach, replaced Huub Stevens, to become the manager of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in 27th October 2015.
He took charge of the ruins when the club was at jeopardy as it languished at the 18th positon in the league table facing relegation woes. But Nagelsmann re-evaluated the clubs approach, which resulted in collecting 20 points from his first 10 games in charge and Hoffenheim ended the season at 15th positon comfortably above danger.
The german coach whose gameplay is a reflection of traditional German school pressing, more specifically to that of Roger Schmidt and Jurgen Klopp. Thomas Tuchel has also revealed Nagelsman’s hesitance to stick to a single formation which clearly shows his willingness to adapt to situations according to the opposition. He changes his team’s structure in the middle of a game depending on the oppositions and also the situation of play.
He has established the traditional German pressing play which also has a touch of European style of play in the last century. He has set up three men, four men and also five men defences considering the depth of the attacking play his opponents have chosen. Hoffenheim at the beginning of the season played with a derived formation of 4-3-3 but changed to variation of 3-5-2 as the season progressed.
Being a defender himself, Nagelsmann mainly focuses on his defence and sets it according to the opposition’s depth of attacking play. This season the Blues have used the 3-5-2 formation in the earlier stages and have shifted to the unusual formation of 3-1-4-2 where Nagelsmann has repositioned several players considering the situation of play and to make the formation effective.
Sebastian Rudy was positioned as a defensive midfielder and created a triple pivot with Rupp and Demirbay who played further up in the pitch as no.8s. Toljan and Kaderabek acted as the wing-backs, Bicakcic, Vogt and Sule formed the defensive line-up. Uth and Kramaric were made the striking duo in the new formation. Sometimes he repostioned Kramaric as a winger and used Sandro Wagner Up front, which has been a very effective move. With the presence of Adam Szalai, Nadiem Amiri, Lukas Rupp, Eugen Polanski, etc. Hoffenheim has a great mixture of youth and experience at their disposal.
Naglesmann, who is a huge fan of diagonal ground balls made his team start the attack deep down as the full-backs (in most cases Kaderabek) providing cutting edge passes across the field to the withdrawing forwards, mostly to Mark Uth. The forwards tend to take the ball in a curved run to supply the ball to the overlapping wing-backs, which would create an aerial threat in response. Rudy covered the open space left by the protruding wing-backs, who would make his way to the wings while Demirbay tracks back and occupies the defensive role for the time count. Nagelsmann is a great tactician and he is multi dimensional manager, he never tends to keep the tactics predictable for the opposition and keeps on changing the dynamism of their play.
Julian Nagelsmann has always given the situation and the opposition the required respect and strategised accordingly, he also used the long ball play when his conventional diagonal ground passes were not working. The way he has used Sebastian Rudy in the middle of a triple pivot who takes cares of the defence when the wing backs are overlapping and who also sets up the play when in possession.
Sandro Wagner has been in terrafic form and is the club’s highest goal scorer.Stellar performances from Nicklas Sule, Kevin Vogt and Ermin Bičakčić has always held the Hoffenheim defence tight. The likes of Lukas Rupp, Kemer Demirbay and Pavel Kadeřábek have also been impressive. Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim was the only team unbeaten this season for back to back 17 games until they lost to RB Leipzig.
The club sits comfortably at 4th position in Bundesliga, and with only 5 points away from the 2nd spot. Hoffeheim are set to fight for a Champions League spot till the end of the season. With a master tactician and a very hardworking team the feat does not seem far away. From relegation zone to fighting for Champions League spot, Nagelsmann has turned the tables for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and has taken Bundesliga by storm.