The teams ranked 14 and 15 in the Eredivisie before the kick-off went into this game knowing that, after wins by both Excelsior and VVV, a loss today would bring them close to the relegation play-offs. Unfortunately this insecurity shone through the start of the match with both teams clearly lacking confidence.
Vitesse: under construction
Georgian owned Vitesse is very much a team under construction. No less than fourteen players already made their debuts for the club this season, understandably leading to a lack of regular patterns of play. In his first managing job Albert Ferrer deserves some time to build his team, but at present results are needed even to stay clear of the relegation play-off places.
Today Vitesse went with a clear 4-3-3 formation, initially playing with a rather flat and closely grouped midfield, protecting a rather conservative flat back four. Defensive stability dominated over attacking power and lone striker Marco van Ginkel, a natural midfielder of just 18 years old, lacked support upfront. Vitesse missed their 4m euro striker Wilfried Bony who is not fit enough to play yet, but the prospect of having a striker who scored a goal every 128 minutes during the first half of the season at Sparta Prague should install some hope in those supporting Vitesse.
On the right wing Haruna Babangida, one of Vitesse’s recent acquisitions, played an outside pacy winger role while on the left wing Ismael Aissati played the trendy wide playmaker role that was recently depicted by Zonal Marking.
Mario Been’s Feyenoord consequently plays a, outside wingers 4-3-3 system. Castaignos features in the lone striker role, today supported by wingers Biseswar and Ryo Miyaichi, the latter making his Feyenoord debut after being loaned from Arsenal. The talented 18 year old Japanese winger is a pacy dribbler with great acceleration who will hope to gain first team experience from this loan move. He is one of no less than four teenagers in today’s Feyenoord starting eleven with De Vrij, Martins Indi and Castaignos being the other three.
Feyenoord’s midfield sees another player making his debut as Marcel Meeuwis, loaned from German side Borussia Mönchengladbach is brought in the physically strengthen the midfield and hopefully install some stability there.
The first half
The pressure on both teams was very much clear right from the start of the game. Both teams looked happy enough to hold onto possession even in their own halves and both three men midfields effectively cancelling each other out meant that both sets of centre-backs resorted to quite some desperate balls over the top.
Feyenoord’s strikers Castaignos hardly got a touch of the ball in the first twenty minutes and he lacked all sorts of support with the midfielders more occupied with their defensive duties than making runs from deep. In addition to that, the distance from the wide wingers to the striker added to the isolated role up front. Unfortunately youngster Castaignos does not possess the physical strength at present to battle it out on his own against the likes of Kashia and particularly the physical presence of Rajkovic.
Vitesse played a teenager up front too as Marko van Ginkel featured in the striker role, preferred over topscorer (albeit with only four goals) Pedersen, who scored all his goals coming from the bench. Van Ginkel suffered from comparable problems as his counterpart Castaignos and he was by and large anonymous in the first part of the game too.
Twenty minutes into the match both managers started making their first tweaks to the teams. Mario Been instructed wingers Biseswar and Miyachi to switch flanks and immediately a handful of right-sided crosses came in from Biseswar. On the left flank Miyachi made some impressive pacy dribbles, but his crosses did not quite connect. Vitesse’s manager Albert Ferrer improved his striker’s support by having Aissati drifting inside in something approaching a free playmaking role from the left wing. In turn, this created space for Vitesse’s Japanse full-back Yasuda to exploit his attacking skills.
In spite of this, the first half panned out with just one Vitesse chance created as Matic played a delightful ball in behind Feyenoord’s backline only for Babangida to waste the one-on-one chance.
Second half changes
Despite again setting out in 4-3-3, Feyenoord’s playing style was definitely different in the second half. Biseswar played more of an inside winger role, lending support to Castaignos and creating space for right-back Swerts to make some runs. Furthermore, Wijnaldum started making some well-timed runs from deep, at one time to be on the end of an excellent one touch Castaignos cross where his tap-in was blocked by Vitesse keeper Room.
With both teams realizing that a draw would help them no further, chances started arising and the game got more of an end-to-end character. And shortly after Vitesse missed another excellent chance, Castaignos got free of his marker to finish a Biseswar cross to give Feyenoord the lead. Their advantage was short-lived though as a clumsy foul by Swerts on Van Ginkel meant an opportunity for Aissati to score from the penalty spot.
With the score now 1-1, both teams certainly played for the win. Both Vitesse’s full-backs lent a lot of support to the wingers and midfielders Matic and Riverola moved higher up the pitch too. Feyenoord switched to a 4-2-3-1 for the final fifteen minutes of the game, introducing tall striker Larsen for winger Biseswar and moving Wijnaldum to the right wing. Castaignos played in the hole behind target man Larsen.
In the end
Despite the attacking intent from both sides, the match finished with a 1-1 score line, but in truth both teams could easily have snatched victory in a closely matched end-to-end final ten minutes of the game. Tactically this was never the most entertaining of matches as both 4-3-3’s effectively cancelled each other out, but the tight battle and both teams desperation to win three points in the face of relegation play-offs made up for it. This draw does certainly not help Vitesse nor Feyenoord as both teams have just a three and two point margin to the relegation play-off places now, making Feyenoord’s next match, at home against Heracles another must-win game.