For most people who do not follow the Bundesliga regularly, the name Lars Stindl is maybe unknown or at least they didn’t watch him play so far. In fact, Lars Stindl is a German national player. He was part of the winning team of the Confed-Cup and also played in the Qualification for the World-Cup. However, Stindl has never played for one of the big teams in Germany (Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund). After he developed in Hannover into a regular starter he changed the shirt and got transferred to Borussia M´Gladbach to replace Max Kruse. During his time in Gladbach he has developed into one of the best attackers in the Bundesliga, he was able to play in the Champions League and now is the current captain of Gladbach.
Lars Stindl is not the typical striker who moves up-front and is dangerous in the box. Moreover, Lars Stindl is the player type who moves between the lines and connects with the midfield regularly. Gladbach usually plays without a real striker up-front. In their 4-4-2 both strikers play between the lines and are very skilled under pressure. With Hazard, Raffael and Grifo Gladbach has players who are intelligent, skilled and feature a great vision. However, Lars Stindl is the player who is most consistent and very important to the team of Dieter Hecking.
In this article, I am going to show where Lars Stindl possesses his strengths and why he is at least in the expanded candidate’s pool from which Joachim Löw can choose his squad for the World-Cup.
As I mentioned above, Lars Stindl connects regularly with the midfield. Therefore, he moves a lot between the lines and adjusts his position to the location of the ball or to the position of his teammates in order to connect them.
In this situation, Ginter has no passing option to break through Leipzig´s midfield line, however, the shape of Leipzig is not compact in that situation because the lines got stretched. Stindl recognises the open space and moves into the open space in order to give Ginter a forward-passing option.
By receiving the ball in the grey marked space, Stindl evokes pressure. Both of Leipzig´s central midfielders start to press him while one of the deeper players of Leipzig follows Stindl so the captain of Gladbach can´t turn with the ball. One of Stindl´s strength is the vision and observation of the position of his teammates and opponents. Here he stops the ball and creates further pressing which opens space for his teammates after Stindl passed the ball back to the centre-backs they had more space to advance into the opponent’s half.
Besides his awareness of open space, he also is capable of supporting his teammates through movements which create space.
After Gladbach switched sides Jantschke has no direct passing option. So, he can´t continue the attack although Leipzig left space in the half-space. But, Stindl recognises the missing passing option for Jantschke and moves towards the sideline. In this scene, he not only offers a passing option he also opens the half-space by drawing one defender with him. Here Jantschke can advance into the middle and Gladbach receives space in the centre.
His passing ability
The biggest strength of Stindl is clearly his passing ability. He has a variety of different passes which lead to breakthroughs for his team. In particular, he likes to play direct passes behind the lines of the opponent. Because of the fact that he is comfortable enough to control the ball under pressure and play difficult passes while he receives pressure, he fits perfectly into the philosophy of Gladbach. Because of his skill-set, he often is the wall-player in third-man combinations or one-two combinations.
In this situation, he combines the ability to offer a supportive passing option and playing accurate through-balls. Especially his body position and his awareness of the forward movement of the centre-backs along with his vision makes him capable of playing the pass with the right timing in the open space.
Here he turns his body while the ball is near his foot in order to play the pass with the first touch through the gap between the centre-backs.
In the next scene, Stindl plays a perfect chip-pass behind Bremen´s defensive line which brings Gladbach’s striker in a good scoring position. Again he plays that pass with the first touch which makes him and the pass hard to defend because the defence has no opportunity to apply pressure on Stindl and has to change direction quickly because of the direct switch of location through Stindl’s pass.
However, Lars Stindl tends to play passes which are too difficult because either the angle is bad or there is literally no space to play that pass.
Here he tries to play another chip-pass, Zakaria on the right side has space but the pass is far too difficult and even when the pass would reach Zakaria, the midfielder would have problems to control the ball and shoot on goal because the defence could quickly close the available space.
Sometimes Stindl tries to play passes through the smallest gapes which make those actions inconsistent because when those passes are not played accurately enough a defender will intercept the pass. However, when Stindl plays the ball in the right moment which by the way happens quite often the defence will have no chance to defend those passes because they usually land with the right speed in the running path of the attacker.
His great technique when it comes to accurate passes which split opponent´s defenders gets obvious in this scene when he simply plays the pass with the perfect timing, in a way that his team-mate receives the ball before the defenders.
His problem, he is not that dangerous
Particularly this season, Stindl struggles to score goals which have different reasons. One is the overall playing style and the problems which Gladbach has. I argued that Stindl’s playing style fits perfectly to Gladbach which is true, Gladbach tries to play through the opponent’s defence with quick short-pass combinations. In those situations, Stindl’s technique and vision under pressure are valuable. However, Stindl rarely receives his own opportunities to score the easy goals because he is often the guy who is playing the through-balls to Gladbach’s wingers.
Furthermore, Gladbach’s offensive structure is not always perfect. Sometimes they miss the balance and attack with only a few players which causes massive disadvantages for the players between the opponent’s lines. Gladbach gets really dangerous through counter-attacks and again Stindl is the player who can play the passes but misses the speed to finalise the attacks on his own. Besides his lack of speed, he is also not the best player in 1v1 situations although he is capable of dribbling through tight spaces by changing direction or using body feints to unbalance the opponent.
He can’t create his own opportunities on a regular basis through dribbling. Most of his scoring opportunities came from shots outside the box or when he can move from deep in the open space and receive accurate passes. In a better-structured offence, Stindl could receive more opportunities and show his class. Last season, for example, he scored 18 goals in 42 appearances for Gladbach and also won the silver shoe at the Confederations Cup.
Obviously, Stindl is one of the best offensive players in the Bundesliga, especially his passing ability and his awareness for the distribution of players on the pitch is outstanding. This season he couldn’t perform at his best constantly which holds true to the whole Gladbach squad. In terms of being part of the World Cup squad, Stindl has the disadvantage that he isn’t the best at one position nor does he offer a special skill which sets him apart from all the other players Joachim Löw can choose for the World Cup.