Feyenoord ensured a morale boosting win at home against ADO Den Haag in the Eredivisie. The win means Giovanni Bronckhorst’s boys sit on top of the Eredivisie table.
Use of the wings as the main source of chance creation
There was a clear pattern in Feyenoord’s build up. In ADO Den Haag, they had a team who were prepared to play most of the game without the ball. This meant Feyenoord would see a lot of possession (66%) throughout the game. Without needle players who can trouble opposition defenses through the middle, it was not surprising to see Feyenoord use the wings as the main source of chance creation. Moreover, the inclusion of players like Vilhena in midfield justified this strategy. Vilhena is a player who is more comfortable drifting wide from central areas as opposed to moving towards goal.
To create width, Feyenoord used some movements throughout the game to create space for crosses into the centre for target man Jorgensen and 37 year old veteran Dirk Kuyt to attack. In the left side, they looked to create triangles throughout the game. At all times, regardless of the players occupying such spaces, they ensured that a triangle was formed in the left flank and left halfspace. This attracted the ADO Den Haag defenders to that side which would create gaps between their back 4 during shifting for Kuyt and Jorgensen to exploit. They tried this throughout the first half. It ultimately led to the first goal with a clever run by Kuyt ending one of such moves with a sleek finish.
On the right flank, Berghuis was more direct and looked to use his diagonal dribbling to cut inside and put in inswinging crosses for the strikers. To ensure width, RB would take up a high position early in the buildup. This ensured a situation of numerical superiority or equality at all times giving Berghuis the much needed freedom to isolate the defenders marking him.
Since the wings are not favourable in terms of passing angles available to the player in possession, Kuyt or Jorgensen often tried to nullify this by providing an extra passing option to the wide player when there was a possibility of the former losing possession. One of Jorgensen or Kuyt would then drift wide to engage the fullback and near sided CB to make more space for the wide man on the ball. At times, they try to link with each other with 1-2 combinations.
Feyenoord’s waves of attack pushed ADO Den Haag into their own box. A superior structure compared to the visitors ensured that there were not much chances of counter attack. However, the game became open in the second half as Feyenoord pushed more men forward to score more goals. There is usually not much of a problem with men moving forward as long as there is good staggering in the team structure. However without proper staggering, opponents could exploit their weakened structure by bypassing the pressing efforts with one or two passes. This led to some chances on the break in the second half for the visitors.
However, in the defensive organisation phase, Feyenoord were not tested much because of the inferior quality of opponents. It will be interesting to see how Feyenoord set up against Manchester United in their Europa League clash on Thursday.
Having won all 5 of their league games, Feyenoord will look to continue their winning streak in the Europa League as well. However, odds against them are much higher as they face one of the favourites for the competition in Manchester United. With better defensive performances, there is no reason why they cannot beat Manchester United. Dirk Kuyt will be key in their encounter with his huge experience coming in handy for an otherwise inexperienced side.