Tag Archives: Roda JC

On the inexplicable firing of Roda manager Ruud Brood

Last Sunday, Roda announced the firing of manager Ruud Brood. After starting the season with seven points from four matches, only two wins from thirteen followed, and Roda now hold the 14th place with 18 points from 17 matches. Saturday’s 3-4 loss at the hands of N.E.C. Nijmegen, who are currently bottom of the table, was the trigger to fire manager Ruud Brood. Indeed, results do not look pretty, do they? But here are three simple graphs to illustrate why Brood’s firing seems a weird decision.

 

TSR and PPG

Regular visitors of 11tegen11 know my fancy of a stat called Total Shot Rate, adapted in football through the work of the brilliant James Grayson, and originally coming from ice hockey analysis. TSR is simply the fraction of shots a team takes in a match, computed by diving shots for by total shots. TSR is an excellent marker for team performance, as the next graph shows.

Graph 1 - Roda TSR and PPGThis graph shows Roda’s points-per-game (PPG) and TSR in 34-match moving averages. This simply means that each point in the graph represents the average of the preceding 34 matches. The two lines make an almost perfect dance, always moving in the same direction, visually illustrating the relevance of dominating the shot count in football matches.

We can see the Roda did better under the previous manager, Harm van Veldhoven, until the summer of 2012, and the first year under Brood Roda declined to a TSR of 0.375, coinciding with a relegation threatening PPG of 0.90. Still, Brood managed to avoid relegation through the play-offs after finishing 16th. Now, halfway into the new season, Roda’s TSR is nicely creeping back up to the usual 0.450 level, with a corresponding uptick in PPG to 1.2 over the past 34 matches.

 

TSR

The next graph shows Roda’s TSR in slightly more detail, with a 10-game moving average added to the thicker 34-match line.

Graph 2 - Roda TSRPerhaps now, we can see better why Roda departed with Van Veldhoven, who finished the 2011-12 season in dangerous 0.350-0.375 TSR land. However, since Brood’s arrival at the club, a steady increase in TSR has been established, an Roda look well underway to finally playing above 0.450 level, for the first time in nearly two years.

 

PDO

The next graph shows Roda’s PDO, again with 34- and 10-match moving averages. PDO is a useful stat that combines a team’s shooting percentage (goals per shot) and saves percentages (saves per shot conceded). For convenience, the number is multiplied by 1000. The essential thing is that long-term, PDO tends to revert back to around 1030 for top teams and 970 for bottom teams, since the natural spread in Sh% and Sv% is limited.

Grafiek 3 - PDO RodaLong-term, Roda nicely stays within the expected zone, with PDO’s of around 1010-1020. However, there is a lot of short term movement in PDO. This has everything to do with football being a low scoring sport. One goal can make a difference on short-term PDO, and on short-term results. Long-term, however, PDO and points are very poorly correlated.

Over the past three years, Roda has suffered three dips in short-term PDO. The first, in October 2011, coincided with a drop in TSR and had a dramatic impact on the results. Over the course of six matches, Roda’s 10-match PDO dropped from 1055 to 926, with one win and five losses in that period. But, PDO always recovers, and long-term, Roda’s PDO never dipped under 1000.

The second dip in PDO was a very quick one, in October 2012. From 1033 to 950 in three matches, unsurprisingly bringing three losses. Recovery, as always, was quick, and long-term, Roda hovered nicely around the 1010 mark.

The third dip in PDO is what killed Ruud Brood. Two wins from the past thirteen matches had everything to do with a severe fall in PDO, from 1053 at the end of August 2013 to XXX presently. Ironically, Roda’s TSR (the best predictor for long-term performance!) had just been increasing nicely to above the 0.450 mark.

Victim

It looks like Ruud Brood is another PDO victim. Or, to put it in normal language, a football manager who was fired while doing a decent job. Bad luck killed the results, and if Roda had waited long enough for PDO to recover – which it always does – results would have picked up nicely in line the rise in TSR. For now, this Roda vacancy looks like a very good job opportunity, and there is a near guarantee for success.

Roda 3 – 1 VVV: Home side more efficient, but VVV show their potential

Coming off four straight wins, VVV went into this derby clash with some expectations. New manager Ton Lokhoff took over at the end of 2011, to see his team take five wins from the first seven matches in charge, only losing away at relegation rivals Excelsior and newly promoted RKC. Away at Roda, who came of three straight losses themselves, things looked a bit different though. VVV were actually closer than the final score line suggests, but failed to capitalize on the opportunities they created in their excellent first half. After the break, Roda manager Van Veldhoven fixed his team in order to run out clear winners come the end of the match.

 

Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond

The starting line-ups. Note Timisela's advanced position, adding weight to VVV's potential understrength in midfield.

As usual, Roda lined up in their 4-4-2 diamond formation. Always posing interesting questions with this formation, Roda’s two strikers are an exception in the 4-3-3/4-5-1/4-2-3-1 dominated Eredivisie. Ajax countered them with a three men defense in their three clashes this season, much like N.E.C. did quite successfully the year before. Other teams just expect to deal with the expected 4v3 midfield situation by exploiting the flanks, a notable potential weakness of any diamond midfield.

In personal terms, three important members of Roda’s presumed starting eleven returned to the pitch for this match. Back form suspensions were goal keeper Kieszek and deep-lying playmaker Vormer. In defense, left-back Jimmy Hempte returned after missing the better part of three matches due to injury, three matches that Roda indeed lost. Upfront, red hot top scorer Sanharib Malki, who just saw his contract extended at the club, former the usual partnership with Mads Junker.

 

VVV’s 4-3-3

Manager Ton Lokhoff did turn things around in his spell in charge so far. Result-wise this has been shown in the fact that VVV picked up 15 points in his 8 matches in charge, compared to just 10 points in their prior 17 matches. In terms of playing style, he introduced a fairly direct inverted winger 4-3-3 formation, aiming to exploit the pace of winger Wildschut and striker Nwofor. To be fair, he did have the luxury of some important players added on loan during the winter window, with Danny Holla providing a stable passing base for the midfield three, and young winger Steven Berghuis adding to the trickery of the offense three. In defense, Ismo Vorstermans, on load from Utrecht, helped his team, with VVV winning every Lokhoff managed match where they conceded one goal or less.

 

The first half

Roda started quite aggressively, in the positive sense of the word. Their urgency in the first ten minutes allowed them to dominate possession, and like they prefer to do, to circulate possession through Ruud Vormer, for the blonde midfielder to open up the opponent with his excellent long and short passing skills. However, after about ten minutes, VVV fixed this issue, as tenacious midfielder Marcel Meeuwis started to man-mark Vormer out of the equation fir the remainder of the first half.

Roda’s passing became increasingly hurried, with both central defenders often bypassing the midfield, and ending up losing possession due to incomplete long passes. An important aspect of VVV’s successful first half was the role played by right-back Timisela. He advanced into midfield, thereby pressing Roda midfielder Ramzi and fixing the potential 4v3 issue that VVV could have had in this diamond vs 4-3-3 situation.

With Roda struggling to make the best of the majority share of possession, it was VVV who created the best quality chances. Striker Nwofor hit the post with a nice bicycle kick and saw another attempt just pass the wrong side of the post after an intelligent Berghuis through-ball played him in behind Roda’s defensive line. Finally, it was central defender and Japanese international Maya Yoshida who put VVV in front by responding first to a rebound after Danny Holla hit the bar with a long range direct free kick.

 

The second half

One might have expected VVV to continue their excellent first half performance, but the second half showed quite a different story. VVV had problems covering the space in front of their defensive line, as their back four seemed to drop just a bit deeper, with their front three still playing quite high up the pitch. As a result, Roda’s four men midfield got more space to work, resulting in Vormer being able to see much more of the ball in the second half.

VVV’s lack of grip on their opponents was well illustrated in an early second half series of Roda chances, and who else but Roda top scorer Malki managed to put his team level with VVV after Roda exploited one of VVV’s many early own half turnovers of possession. Shortly hereafter, another early turnover provided De Beule with a shooting opportunity to make it 2-1 for Roda.

VVV manager Lokhoff took off midfielder Kruysen and winger Berghuis to bring like-for-like substitutions in the form of Linssen and Cullen. It proved difficult for VVV to regain control of the midfield area, the terrain where they clearly lost out early in the second half. Roda started circulating the ball with more confidence, and sitting on a 2-1 lead now, could apply more patience in possession.

With a red card for VVV defender Yoshida, after a foolish elbow on Mitchell Donald, the match seemed over. VVV did chase the lead, squandering one big opportunity as Wildschut failed to crown an excellent solo run when Vukovic cleared his attempt off the line, but it was Roda who put the game beyond doubt when Malki scored his second of the game from the penalty spot.

 

In the end

A match between two teams with different playing styles and formations always makes for entertaining stuff. And this edition of Roda – VVV was no exception. VVV managed to exploit Roda’s weakness in possession by creating a lot of first half opportunities with their pacy inverted wingers and the positional awareness of striker Nwofor, but they had themselves to blame for leading by just one goal at half time.

In the second half, Roda took control of the midfield, as VVV granted too much space between the lines of their 4-3-3 formation. Ruud Vormer took control of Roda’s passing game, much as their manager Van Veldhoven likes to see, and his 87 ball contacts outshone not just VVV’s players, but his team mates as well. On top of that, he managed to win 12 duels, initiating some of those important early turnovers that Roda exploited for their first and second goal of the game.

In the end, VVV did show their newly installed qualities in this match, but just fell short in terms of efficiency using their first half goal scoring opportunities. Roda deserves credit for jumping on their opportunities early in the second half, with top scorer Malki putting them on the right track.

Roda 2 – 1 Twente: Adriaanse’s first defeat in a tactically surprising match

Two tactically tuned formations played out an interesting match, where Roda countered their way towards beating their opponents in the second half. Twente manager Co Adriaanse deliberately left his right wing vacated and ultimately paid the price as Roda, one of only four teams that Twente failed to beat both home and away last year, exploited the opportunities that Twente’s unusual shape offered them.

 

Roda’s change of formation

The starting line-ups. Note Twente's vacated right wing.

One of only two Eredivisie teams to consequently play a two striker formation with a diamond midfield, Roda showed up rather differently for their home match against favorites Twente. Manager Van Veldhoven, always a guarantee for interesting tactical moves, sacrificed the second striker that generally plays off Mads Junker, a role played by Pluim in three of this season’s four matches so far, to install a five men midfield and go for a genuine 4-5-1 formation.

In addition to a different formation, Roda’s playing style was also quite different from what the home crowd will be used to. They sat very deep, particularly during the first twenty minutes, and absorbed the expected pressure their superior opponents gave them. Both wide midfielders mainly provided defensive contributions during that early phase and consequently Mitchell Donald, playing ‘in the hole’, intitially had a tough time connecting passes to lone striker Junker.

 

Twente’s unusual shape

One of the key questions in listing the starting names on the team sheet should be whether to adapt the names to a certain playing style and formation or the adapt the style and formation to the names available. And in this case, Adriaanse clearly went for the latter option. In the absence of the injured Chadli and Bajarami, and of course departed superstar Bryan Ruiz, he could have featured youngster Steven Berghuis on the right wing, but instead opted for a change of formation.

In an attempt to fit in new acquisition Fer in central midfield without forcing either top scorer Janko or the talented Luuk de Jong to the bench, Adriaanse vacated the right wing position. This move proved crucial in determining the fate of the game, as Roda took just over twenty minutes to figure out the countering options Twente provided them with.

 

The first phase

During the first twenty minutes of the match, Twente’s pressing, combined with their compact axis formation took Roda by surprise and the away side dominated the game. Roda sat too deep and invited pressure from their opponents, while allowing too much space in front of their defense even for the five men midfield to cover. Throughout the game Roda consequently played for offside, probably in an attempt to keep tall strikers Janko and De Jong away from the danger zone, but the lack of pressing exerted by the midfield still allowed the odd ball to come through for the overlapping runs of Fer and Janssen.

Roda’s deep wide midfielders added to the problem in that phase, inviting their opponents, Twente’s full-backs, to step into the midfield and provide some width in that department, further stretching the area to be covered here.

 

 

The second phase

Things changes a bit around the twenty minute mark. Roda took a less deep stance and thereby reduced the area in front of their defensive line. Suddenly the five men midfield proved more than capable of pressing the, now reduced, zone where Twente’s midfield had to operate and a reduction in the number of through balls was the result.

Twente’s game plan from that phase on consisted of mostly early left wing crosses through Ola John, launching high balls for Janko and De Jong to try and connect with. However, it was the odd through ball that seemingly settled the case in the 35th minute, as Roda’s midfield pressure slipped up just for a moment and Twente played Janssen in behind the, now slightly advanced, defensive line of Roda. Janssen’s shot was saved by Roda keeper Kieszek, but he gave up a rather cheap rebound for Janko to finish. With that, the tall Austrian striker scored his sixth goal of the season, now having scored in each of the first five matches.

As quickly as it was unexpected, Roda replied instantly. With his first arrival in the opposing box, holding midfielder Ruud Vormer finished after a nice one-two with Donald.

 

The second half

Only two minutes into the second half, Roda scored a second goal. It seems like Van Veldhoven instructed his team to exploit the defensive weakness that Twente imposed on themselves by vacating the right wing spot. The ball was quickly circulated to that area, where left full back Jimmy Hempte made an unopposed run forward. His pass found Donald in glaring space in Twente’s central defense and Donald, who played such a tough opening phase of the match when support was lacking, fired home from the edge of the area.

Adriaanse replied by correcting his formation, finally introducing a right winger, Steven Berghuis. Remarkably, it was captain and central defender Wisgerhof who was sacrificed. This led to a 3-3-4 formation, and with that to a clear picture for the remaining half hour to be played. Twente desperately fired ball forward while Roda was provided more and more space for their quick counters.

Twente’s midfield still consisted of three central midfielder that do not share the highest amount of creativity among them: Brama, Willem Janssen and Fer. It was in this difficult phase for them that the absence of Bryan Ruiz was most visible. On top of that, Roda’s packed five men midfield made things difficult for the away side, who found themselves with too many men in front of the ball.

The result was a closing phase where Roda’s counters provided more goal scoring threat than Twente’s attempts to find striker Janko and De Jong, but no more goals were scored.

 

In the end

This was a strange match in the sense that both teams played in a different shape than they usually do. But they did so with different incentives. Roda’s formation was defensively tuned from a 4-4-2 diamond to a genuine flat midfield 4-5-1 in order to deal with their opponent’s midfield strength. Furthermore, their defense, playing a medium high line and aiming for offside, was clearly aimed at reducing the threat of tall strikers Janko and De Jong.

Twente’s formation, on the contrary, was defensively tuned to fit in the presumed starting eleven names, rather than to beat the game plan of their opponent. Admittedly, Adriaanse missed the star qualities of Bryan Ruiz, who was sold to Fulham and the flair that could have been offered by the injured Nacer Chadli. But in this match he seemed to have based his vacated right winger formation around the preference to both add new acquisition Leroy Fer to the central midfield, and leave the Janko – De Jong striker partnership intact.

In the end, the team that adapted it’s starting eleven to their game plan beat the team that adapted their game plan to their starting eleven.

Roda 2 –2 Ajax: Courageous tactical move rewarded with a come-back

Home team Roda will be keen to maintain their unbeaten home record (4-6-0) and add three more points in their chase on Groningen and Ajax for a direct Europa League qualification spot. Meanwhile, Ajax face the difficult task of keeping the pace of both PSV and Twente who managed to win last night.

 

Another 4-4-2 diamond versus 4-3-3

After last week’s home match against De Graafschap, Ajax faces another known 4-4-2 diamond team today. And given the troubles that De Graafschap’s diamond posed last week, Ajax may be prone to suffer the same problems again. The excellent lateral movement of the two strikers kept Ajax’ complete back four occupied, leading to a 4v3 advantage for the compact diamond in midfield. Ajax did not find a workaround for this problem and failed to convert their superior player quality into esthetically pleasing football.

The starting line-ups. Note De Jong's deep position, representing his defensive stance when out of position, solving Ajax' potential 4v3 midfield problem initially.

Demi de Zeeuw’s return to the midfield spot beside Enoh instead Siem de Jong implies a subtle, yet important chance for Ajax. It means they field more of a double screen in front of the back four which allows the full-backs to make forward runs. The box formed by Enoh-De Zeeuw-Vertonghen-Alderweireld should be able to cover Roda’s attacking trident of Janssen-Hadouir-Junker, leaving both full-backs freedom to exploit the weakness a 4-4-2 diamond has on the flanks. Of note is Van der Wiel’s suspension. He is replaced by Anita, who plays the full-back role on his unfamiliar right side.

Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond differs slightly from De Graafschap’s interpretation as Roda may be expected to play a more offensive game. Particularly the roles of Hersi and Janssen in the advanced playmaking position deserve some attention here. While Hersi looks to receive the ball at feet looking to dictate play by through-balls to the strikers, Janssen is more of an athletic player, making runs from deep and arriving late in the box to assist strikers Hadouir and Junker. On top of that Janssen receives his fair share of balls played into space for him to run onto too.

Behind them the roles of De Graafschap’s Meijer and Roda’s Vormer are different too. The first act like an anchor man securing his defense, while the latter plays the role of a deep-lying playmaker. The combination of Ajax’ playmaker Eriksen and Roda’s Vormer playing in the same area of the pitch should make for an interesting match-up here.

 

Smart move by Frank de Boer

Ajax dominated the first half hour of the game. In spite of the first minute attack that involved both full-backs at the same time, they did not actively seek to involve their full-backs into the attack too much. Instead, the potential 4v3 disadvantage in midfield was solved by withdrawing striker De Jong into midfield when out of possession. He successfully blocked the passing options to playmaker Vormer. This left both Roda centre-backs Kah and Wielaert quite some freedom, but they proved their weak off the ball skills and rarely succeeded to pick out a pass into Roda’s midfield.

This smart moved relieved Ajax’ playmaker Eriksen from performing this defensive task en left him the chance to position himself already for a smart and quick Ajax break even when Roda still had possession of the ball. In effect this meant an old-fashioned trequartista role for the youngster and it was his excellent outside foot assist that provided Sulejmani with a free run in behind Roda’s defense for the early opening goal.

The second Ajax goal was a bit lucky as De Jong took advantage of a deflected Sulejmani cross to head in, but the lead was by all means deserved as the smart defensive positioning detailed above still posed a lot of questions to Roda’s defense when in possession.

Roda did manage to find a way back into the match even before half time. An error by Maarten Stekelenburg, who passed the ball straight into Vormer’s feet set up the play for Roda. In a typical Roda attack Vormer played Janssen into space in one of his excellent runs from deep and Janssen provided the cross of a simple Junker tap-in.

The line-ups near the end of the game. Note Roda's change to a 3-4-1-2 system, outnumbering Ajax in midfield.

 

Second half changes

Despite having found a way back into the match with their goal close to the half time whistle, Roda had to change the face of the game in order to keep sight on the equalizing goal. Manager Van Veldhoven brought striker Skoubo for midfielder Bodor, initially maintaining the 4-4-2 diamond plan, but switching to 3-4-1-2 quickly thereafter.

Centre-back Wielaert was advanced into the midfield while Janssen played a more advanced role from that moment on. Roda re-established their desired dominance in the midfield area by creating a 5v4 or even 5v3 situation there, depending on whether De Jong kept on dropping into the midfield. Of course they paid for it in terms of a one-on-one defense against Ajax’ wide three man attack, but the gain in terms of overrunning Ajax’ midfield outweighed this easily.

These changes resulted in a bombardment of the Ajax penalty box as Roda recovered the vast majority of Ajax’ clearances. A tell tale of Ajax’ problems was Siem de Jong repeatedly clearing balls off his own goal line rather than getting involved in play on the opponent’s half.

Another advantage of playing Skoubo upfront was the option of direct high ball where Roda smartly took advantage of Ajax’ small full-backs by having strikers Skoubo and Junker drifting wide, leaving a gap to be filled by Janssen.

 

The deserved equalizer

Turning the game around like that with courageous and smart tactical moves deserves to be rewarded and Roda got their reward through a beautiful Anouar Hadouir direct free kick. Roda did not switch back to their four man defense, but kept on pushing for the win. In spite of this, the best chance to win the game was of course Ajax’ 85th minute penalty. Mounir El Hamdaoui did his struggling image of recently no good by failing to score from the spot as Tyton stopped his shot.

 

In the end

Two smart moves cancelled each other out as initially Ajax grabbed a two goal lead during a dominant first half hour thanks to the choice to move De Jong back on to Vormer, leaving Eriksen a free trequartista-like role. During the remainder of the match Roda managed to come back from being two goals down, first by a typical Roda build-up in their first goal and then by overloading Ajax’ midfield by switching to a courageous 3-4-1-2 system.

PSV 3 – 1 Roda: Second half turnaround wins the game for PSV

In their ultimate match before the winter break PSV faced Harm van Veldhoven’s Roda at home. On match day six both teams met each other before and the  0-0 draw proved that Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond was capable of posing PSV some difficulties. In this match, however, PSV manager Rutten managed to find the solution during the first half, as was illustrated by the day and night difference of both halves of the match.

 

PSV’s 4-2-3-1

The starting line-ups

Only one absentee is to note in PSV’s formation as former captain Orlando Engelaar is suspended after his red card against De Graafschap. His place besides Afellay, who played his final home game for PSV before leaving to Barcelona, was taken by Atiba Hutchinson. Other than that, PSV fielded a full strength first team. Of note was a serious knee injury for young striker Jonathan Reis, who had just seemed to have won the battle for PSV’s striker position. He injured his knee running into Roda’s goalkeeper Tyton and is out for the season with both cruciate ligaments and a collateral ligament of his right knee ruptured.

 

Roda’s diamond

Perhaps the most discussed formation on 11tegen11, Roda’s diamond-shaped 4-4-2 will be quite familiar. Laurent Delorge returns from injury in the Roda midfield to complete their first choice eleven. This allows Roda to return firmly to the diamond shape rather than playing something approaching a 4-2-2-2, which they tended to do in Delorge’s absence when Wielaert was drafted into midfield besides Vormer.

 

The first half

An early goal should always a be considered a game changer, but in this match PSV’s early opening goal did not bring them the upper hand. They did open the score as early as in the fifth minute, when Dszudszak crosses a free-kick into the box where Marcelo won the header and Lens finished the easy tap in.

Despite being a goal down it was Roda that dominated the game, at least possession-wise. Their midfield four frequently switched positions and this brought about the intended confusion among their opponents. PSV opted to man mark Roda’s defensive midfielder Vormer with Toivonen and their attacking midfielder Janssen with Hutchinson. Carilleros Djoum and Delorge were more or less zonal marked, but as they often took advantage from the spaces created by Vormer and Janssen moving around, Roda had the upper hand in the midfield battle during most of the first half.

Despite that, the best goal scoring chances fell to PSV as their wingers Dszudszak and Lens proved difficult for Roda’s full-backs to control. This may well be related to a lack of support by Djoum and Delorge who had to deal with Afellay playing a sort of box-to-box role too.

About halfway through the first half Roda managed to equalize through virtually their first goal scoring opportunity. Anouar Hadouir showed his technical skill by curling a free-kick on the edge of the box over the PSV wall into the goal.

After this goal, PSV applied much more pressure on their opponents. Both full-backs played a more advanced role, pressing Djoum and Delorge. As a result the game settled down and both teams had trouble converting own-half possession into fluid attacks. Most goalmouth action was set piece related, mostly through PSV corners. With both teams now having scored through a set piece the first half settled at 1-1.

 

Second half changes

No personal, but significant tactical changes were applied by PSV manager Rutten at half time. His full-backs now regularly appeared as wide midfielders, overloading Djoum and Delorge who had to deal with both full-backs as well as assist Vormer and Janssen in stopping Afellay, Hutchinson and Toivonen. The Swede now played a deeper role, allowing PSV to outnumber Roda in midfield. The theory behind the 4-5-1 formations, i.e. to withdraw a striker in order to outnumber the 4-4-2 of the opponent, came to full effect here.

Roda managed to hold on for the first few minutes, but one stranded right flank attack, where eventually Vormer found himself out of position, was enough for PSV to turn their midfield advantage into a goal. A quick counter attack allowed Lens a free low cross which Berg finished at the far post.

A second stranded Roda attack paved the way for Dszudszak’s game settling goal that made it 3-1. From that moment on PSV, having dominated the second half completely, was allowed to focus on Afellay’s good-bye, which was celebrated near the end of the game with a symbolic substitution. Seventeen year old Zakarya Labyad, who is considered to be one of the brightest stars of PSV’s youth academy was given the honour to replace the PSV captain.

A snowy goodbye for Ibrahim Afellay

 

In the end

PSV finally managed to overcome the 4-4-2 diamond that had posed them a lot of problems before. Resemblances to the first Sampdoria game, where PSV only managed a last minute equalizer, were not far off.

In the second half Fred Rutten applied the same principle that helped N.E.C. to a surprisingly comfortable 1-1 draw away at Roda, earlier this season. N.E.C. went into that game with an unconventional 3-3-3-1 formation that cropped into a 3-6-1 at times and dominated Roda’s favorite part of the pitch, the midfield. By advancing his full-backs and withdrawing Toivonen, Rutten managed to outnumber Roda’s midfield and win the game for PSV.

Roda 1 – 1 ADO: The 4-4-2 diamond doesn’t help Roda at home

Roda remain unbeaten at home, but fail to win a home game again. Difficulties to convert their possession into chances which seem connected to their formation and playing style seem related to their 3-6-0 home series. ADO replaced missing winger Kubik with Vicento, a similar type of player, rather than making adjustments to their system like in the away loss at AZ  and came away with a point in a game they might just have been able to win.

 

Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond

The starting line-ups. Note Roda's narrow formation against ADO's wide wingers.

Manager Harm van Veldhoven has his team play a 4-4-2 diamond as regular followers of 11tegen11 would know. This formation seems to suit his players quite well, allowing Vormer to excel in a holding midfield role and having Jansen put in his hard-working game behind the striker pair of Hadouir for creativity and Junker for finishing.

As the famous Dutch philosopher Cruijff once put it, every advantage has its disadvantage. Such is also the case with Roda’s formation. While operating from a strong narrow midfield the diamond certainly strengthens the center of the pitch, at the same time making it vulnerable to either wide formations or teams able to quickly circulate the ball from one flank to the other.

 

ADO’s 4-3-3

And that’s where ADO’s formation comes into the equation. Operating as a wide 4-3-3, both home and away, ADO is a team set-up around an outside winger philosophy and the fact that ADO has won as much points at home as they did in away games goes to illustrate this. In this match ADO misses left winger Frantisek Kubik due to suspension. In their previous match, against AZ, ADO missed their other winger, Verhoek and was punished for replacing him with Ricky Van den Bergh, a very different type of player. Well, Van den Bergh is not just out of the team, he’s out of the club too as he decided that a fringe role was not what he himself had in mind. This time manager Van den Brom replaced the missing winger with a similar type of player, Vicento.

 

Two quick goals

The game started of with two early goals. First Roda opened the score through Willem Janssen who finished off a Junker pass after displaying his aerobic skills in a run from his own half, ending up with a close range finish of a quick counter. An individual error by holding midfielder Radosavljevic, generally quite reliable in keeping possession, formed the base of conceding the goal. He did the one thing you would not want a holding midfielder to do: dwelling on the ball with most of his teammates in front of him.

But just as quick as Roda’s opening goal, they conceded one themselves. Pa-Modou Kah left Bulykin too much space at a corner and the Russian scored his eleventh goal of the season to level the score after thirteen minutes of play.

 

The pattern of the first half

Well, there was not so much one pattern on show as both teams kept on adjusting to each other, which was also a great game to watch. ADO started the game quite offensively, as expected. A tell tale of their intentions was the frequent runs from deep from the full-backs and the offensive stance of their wingers, pinning Roda’s full-backs back. This derived Roda from one of their strategies to provide width to their diamond, but there was another strategy left.

Striker Hadouir and attacking midfielder Janssen smartly took advantage of ADO’s advanced full-backs and got in behind them on more than one occasion. In turn, this led to ADO adjusting their full-backs and taking a deeper stance in general. This diminished the pressure on Roda’s midfield, who suddenly found lots of space to pass the ball around. ADO could not let this happen and ended the first half applying more of the much needed pression, making life more difficult for Roda’s midfielders. All in all it was a balanced situation with both sides generating some chances, but no more first half goals.

 

The second half

ADO’s pressing continued in the starting minutes of the second half and Roda’s passing suffered as a consequence. ADO took control of the game, but their finishing was rarely on target. Feeling the pressure of being the home team, and although unbeaten at home, also having drawn no less than five of their eight home games, Roda refused to sit back under ADO’s pressure. This initially led to a series of ADO through-balls and crosses, but gradually the match balanced out as ADO’s players paid the price for pressing a lot early in the game.

Particularly in the second half Roda’s passing was below-par, often ending their offensive moves before they actually started. As the same problem kicked in near the end of the match for the fatigued ADO players too, the final part of the match was hardly the best. Both teams gradually came to realize that a draw was on the cards.

Pointing ADO in the right direction: John van den Brom

In the end

Another game unbeaten at home for Roda, but also another game they failed to win. A 3-6-0 home record will not be enough for Roda to build upon and a relation with their playing style may be seen here. Their 4-4-2 diamond allows for a grouped defense, but the lack of width makes it difficult for their players to find space in possession and as a consequence the pass completion suffers. Being a top half side brings that most opponents will settle for a draw playing Roda away and Roda’s strongpoint of fast counter-attacks is hardly effective in these situations.

ADO will be the happier side although more clinical finishing could have won them the game, particularly early in the second half. Their style of play is based on the old adage of cropping space in defense and stretching play in possession and they do this very well. Manager John van den Brom spent his first three coaching years at Ajax’ youth and the Ajax way of thinking is reflected in his approach. The 4-3-3 wide winger system is a clear example of course, but he has adapted this style well to suit his current squad. Reverting the midfield triangle, making the arrow point backwards and installing an anchor man in front of defense reflects the fact that Van den Brom smartly adjusts his philosophy to the strength of the squad he’s managing. ADO’s current eighth spot is quite something for an Eredivisie manager making his debut.

Roda 1 – 0 Groningen: Lack of a playmaker breaks up Groningen

Groningen went into this away match at Roda knowing that a victory would take them to the second place in the Eredivisie. Roda, on the other hand, defended their unbeaten-at-home status. A match between two clubs with fairly different formations was certain to be among the more tactically interesting of the weekend. Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond is unique in the Eredivisie and even playing two strikers is unique in itself. Once completely neutralized by NEC’s three man defense, Roda may be happy that most Eredivisie managers do not show the flexibility to install this system for their Roda games.

 

Groningen’s playmaker problem

The starting line-ups: two very different formations.

Groningen went with their familiar 4-2-3-1 system, despite missing their playmaker Gonzalo Garcia and his first choice replacement Petter Andersson, who is still returning from injury. Leandro Bacuna showed himself unable to glue the team together in the playmaker role that is so vital for a 4-2-3-1 to succeed. Still only 19 years old, the attacking midfielder certainly has the talent, but did not show enough pass completion, nor enough pass attempts to connect Groningen’s attacking play. So, lacking creativity, Groningen seemed unable to turn the possession that they had into chances.

 

Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond

It cannot be stressed enough how, at least from a tactical point of view, interesting and refreshing Roda’s approach to the game is. Roda is the only team to play two upfront and follows what is a much more common formation in for example the Bundesliga.

Against Groningen they were able to field their first choice line-up in ten of eleven spots. Only ‘carrillero‘ (wide midfielder in a diamond) Laurent Delorge missed out due to injury and he was replaced by advancing Wielaert into a defensive midfield role, frequently alternating with Ruud Vormer here.

 

The first half

Roda’s midfield diamond players frequently alternated positions which made it hard for Groningen’s holding midfielders to get a firm grip on them. Especially on Roda’s left flank they made a quick series of dangerous crosses early in the game. Groningen tried to apply a zonal marking system to stay true to their 4-2-3-1 concept and prevent their formation from being entirely disrupted should they’ve chosen to man mark their opponents who played a very different formation.

As said in the introduction, Groningen missed an outlet in midfield who was able to hold onto the ball. In this role Gonzalo Garcia has been instrumental in their successful season so far, but Leandro Bacuna was simply not up to the task. Unfortunately the Eredivisie passing chalkboards are not available (yet?) to illustrate this better, but his low pass completion was a nuisance to Groningen’s game.

Roda, on the other hand, dominated possession and created a steady flow of chances, one of which Junker should have converted ten minutes before the half time whistle. Fortunately for him, Roda managed to grab the lead only a few minutes later when Djoum crowned an excellent run with a deflected shot into the back of the net.

 

Second half chances

Groningen was forced into some second half chances if they were to get anything out of this game. Hardly having created a chance in the first half, they started playing more aggressively, the defensive line was advanced much further, regularly taking stance at the halfway line. Furthermore, both full-backs, who had played an uncharacteristically conservative role up to that moment, started to get involved down the flanks. A third chance was introduced some ten minutes later, when holding midfield Sparv was clearly given more of a box-to-box role, regularly appearing around Roda’s box.

Unfortunately all that is brought was a few Roda counters and the 2-0 was always more likely than the equalizer, although Groningen did create a shooting chance through a spark of Matavz’ attacking quality in the box. With everyone expecting the introduction of Andersson over Bacuna, Groningen manager Huistra initially decided otherwise. He brought Enevoldsen for Van der Laak, which meant no relevant chance to their system or performance.

Leandro Bacuna, 19 years old, talented, but not yet able to carry his team

An early all of nothing game was what followed. With fifteen minutes to go Bacuna was finally removed for Andersson and already Granqvist was moved alongside Matavz, going one-on-one at the back. The qualities of Andersson in linking up the game were imminent in the best Groningen chance of the game, where Sparv saw his shot stopped after one of the first successful passing combinations around Roda’s box.

 

In the end

Roda was able to sit out the game quite comfortably and saw their unique system rewarded with another win, after going five games without one. Groningen was, once again, disappointing away from home. With only two away matches won, against VVV and Willem II, Groningen would have been ranked eighth overall, which goes to show where they can and should improve their game.  Missing a creative player to link their attacking band together proved too much for them today.

Roda’s diamond is still well on course for at least a play-off place and, with the top of the Eredivisie cropping together, both Roda and Groningen keep sight on more.

Roda 1 – 1 N.E.C. : Vloet answers Roda’s diamond with a three man defense

Roda’s fifth Eredivisie home match brought them a third draw, but despite maintaining their unbeaten home record, discontent will prevail. Wiljan Vloet lined N.E.C. up in an unconventional 3-3-3-1 formation which posed insurmountable problems to Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond. Therefore N.E.C. came away with an unexpected, but deserved point from this match.

Roda’s diamond beating NAC

Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond has been discussed quite extensively in yesterday’s review of their 2-1 away victory over NAC Breda.  A 4-4-2 diamond inevitably weakens the flanks in favor of a strengthened centre of the pitch. Roda solved this weak flanks with their full-backs in the second half, having both de Fauw and Hempte making probing runs from deep. The complete lack of NAC’s wingers tracking back meant a dominance in midfield and this brought Roda last weekend’s victory.

The starting line-ups: Roda's 4-4-2 diamond vs N.E.C.'s unconventional 3-3-3-1

N.E.C. goes three at the back

N.E.C. seemed to have learned from NAC’s shortcomings and made some interesting and quite unexpected changes to their formation. Most notably, they fielded a three man defense to avoid the problem of ‘overdefending’. Should their back four be guarding Roda’s two strikers, as in their usual 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation, they would come one player short and lose the midfield battle.

So instead, by fielding three at the back, they could inject an extra midfield player. On top of that, Vloet had his wingers playing a fairly defensive role, so the overall formation would be noted as a 3-3-3-1. The two midfield band of three were never far apart, especially in the first half, so at times their formation came close to a rare 3-6-1.

The first half

The opening phase of the match was characterized by an extremely crowded midfield. Roda effectively played four midfielders against N.E.C.’s six. At the same time, N.E.C. patiently sat back and only pressed their opponent from around the halfway line. Even in possession, the 3-3-3-1 formation was maintained and the lack of attacking passing options was seemingly accepted. For fans of goalmouth action it might have been a boring opening phase, but from a tactical point of view it was interesting to see Roda struggle with N.E.C.’s unconventional formation.

It took the entire first half for Roda to figure out a way to play around this densely packed N.E.C. midfield. Strikers Meulens and Junker started making some wide runs in an attempt to drag the three man defense apart, but this was more exception than rule at that time.

Half time changes

As often before this season, Van Veldhoven made some successful tactical adaptations during half-time. He realized that in fact it was his side that ‘overdefended’ this time, playing a back four against an isolated striker. Instead of advancing the full-backs to strengthen the midfield, this time both centre-backs started taking turns in making runs from deep, both with and without the ball at their feet.

Shortly after the half-time break it was exactly such a run by Pah-Modou Kah that wasn’t adequately picked up by N.E.C.’s midfield. Kah provided the much needed unpredictability that allowed for a dangerous move and Arnaud Sutchuin finished the team move to score his third goal in the past three matches.

Three upfront too

N.E.C. manager Wiljan Vloet

While N.E.C. might have been expected to advance their midfield and switch to a 3-3-1-3 immediately, it took quite some time for that to happen. First, injured holding midfielder Zimling was replaced with winger Chatelle, signaling Vloet’s attacking intentions with over half an hour to play. And later on N.E.C. did indeed switch to the much needed three man upfront.

It must have been the first N.E.C. cross with more than one of their players in the opposing box that created the equalizer. Vleminckx converted a Sibum shot that would otherwise have missed the target and N.E.C. got the reward for the courage that their formation represented.

In the end

To say that the key to unlock Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond has been found is perhaps a tad early, but playing three at the back solved the problem of ‘overdefending’ that previous Roda opponents had. Furthermore, the double banks of three midfielders effectively frustrated Roda’s play an neutralized the game. Not too exciting in terms of goalmouth action, but all the more innovating from a tactical point of view. Hats off to Vloet tonight for making this three at the back happen. Let’s see whether Roda’s next opponents, dead-last Willem II and troubled Feyenoord, have the courage to follow N.E.C.’s example.

NAC 1 – 2 Roda: A 4-4-2 diamond and a deserved second half turnaround

High-flying Roda JC beat NAC Breda away last weekend to go top of the Eredivisie, albeit only for a day. Their 4-4-2 diamond proved too much for NAC, whose wingers failed to track back their markers, allowing Roda full control of the game in the second half.

 

Unique

Both teams have a certain aspect that makes them unique in the Eredivisie. NAC is the only team to be managed by a duo rather than by one manager and Roda is the only team to consequently play two upfront, rather than a lone striker or three forwards. While NAC’s mid-table position may be quite in line with the squad’s quality, it’s Roda’s performance that has drawn much attention, and rightfully so. Up there with the best, their 4-4-2 diamond has proven hard to beat in the Eredivisie this year. It was Jonathan Wilson who described the diamond as a system that has “never hung around for long, which suggests it may have limited applicability.” Which suggests that a turn to the books of football tactics history might not be a waste of time for those managers facing Roda any time soon.

 

 

The starting line-ups. Roda's away kit is blue indeed.

NAC’s 4-3-3

NAC generally lines up in a 4-3-3 formation, playing a dynamic narrow triangle in midfield where Gudelj tends to play the holding role, with Luyckx and Gorter playing in close proximity. Furthermore, all three tend to rotate as well, providing an element of unpredictability to NAC’s game. The front line is composed around central striker Matthew Amoah, who provides a ground supply. He is aided by inverted wingers Kolkka, Boussabon and, when not falling out of favour again, Leonardo.

 

Roda’s diamond

Roda’s 4-4-2 diamond draws on the goal-scoring qualities of Mads Junker upfront, who misses his fellow Danish striker Skoubo through injury at the moment. Although historically most 4-4-2 diamonds relied heavily on a creative man-in-the-hole behind the two striker, Roda play Willem Janssen in that position, who offers a respectable athletic input rather than being a technical wizzkid. Ruud Vormer provides the base of their midfield, generally in a playmaking role, as was the case against NAC.

 

The opening phase

The game was characterized by a high paced opening phase during which both teams saw their full-backs involved in a lot of the play. However, with Roda’s full-back missing a wide target to pass onto and NAC’s wide players not showing their best in possession, not many chances where created.

In an attempt to confuse their opponents, NAC started switching wingers Kolkka and Boussabon around regularly. Add to that their rotating midfield triangle and the game got a bit messy in this phase. Roda was not able to find a way around NAC’s crowded midfield either, so both teams looked energetic without any real chances being created.

 

Breathe in, breathe out…

The main concern for team playing the 4-4-2 diamond has traditionally been their lack of width. In defense, the wide midfielders, beautifully termed ‘Carrilleros’ in Argentine football history, have to help out in central midfield to prevent the holding midfielder from being overrun. Therefore, space is conceded on the wings for the opposing full-backs to run into.

On the other hand, when in possession, the diamond tends to stretch play, looking to provide width and the ‘carrilleros’ move out to the side. Using some beautiful tactics expression, one could state that the team is breathing. Breathing in during possession of the ball, breathing out in defense.

Roda applies this aspect of playing a 4-4-2 diamond very well. Sutchuin on the left and Delorge on the right are always looking to help out in the centre during defense, while they’re stretching play wide in possession.

 

A small mistake

NAC capitalized on a small Roda mistake to score the opening goal, close to half-time. The screen below shows Roda’s broad 4-4-2 diamond shape, after left midfielder Sutchuin started pressing NAC’s right full-back Feher. NAC’s striker Amoah (in possession) has smartly dropped into the midfield and Sutchuin’s team mates do not follow-up his pressing. A well-timed run by midfielder Luyckx (arrow) is enough to create a big gap in Roda’s defense, which is effectively exploited for the opening goal.

NAC plays from left to right. Note Roda's diamond midfield shape, although Sutchuin advanced a bit to press his opponent.

 

Half-time changes

Although the same players started the second half, two important tactical changes were made by Roda manager Harm van Veldhoven during half-time. The first changes implied that Roda upped their defensive line almost to the halfway line, successfully playing NAC’s attacking three offside on more than one occasion. The second change was to force both full-backs forward. These two changes completely changes the face of the game.

Roda’s midfield was now provided width with both full-backs regularly looking for overlap and this relieved their ‘carrilleros’ from constantly running sideways as soon as Roda regained possession. Now Roda effectively had a numerical advantage in central midfield, giving them plenty of passing options as well as a lot more pressing on NAC’s possession.

 

Failing to track back

The effect of the full-back’s overlapping run was enhanced by the fact that both NAC’s wingers completely refrained from tracking back. First Roda right-back de Fauw was allowed to join a right flank attack, winning Roda a penalty, which Junker missed, in the opening minutes of the second half.  Then left-back Hempte was left completely free (as depicted in the screen below) to cross for Junker, whose header only just missed the goal. Finally, on another de Fauw cross, Sutchuin finished one of a series of Roda attacks, equalizing the score.

Acres of free space for Roda's full-backs, left-back Jimmy Hempte in this case.

After that, the only logical move from a NAC point of view would be to remove one of the wingers, whose persistent failure to track back handed the game to Roda in the second half. But both were allowed to stay on the pitch and Roda’s dominance in wide areas was allowed to continue.

As if to highlight the fact that Roda’s full-backs won the game for them, it was left-back Jimmy Hempte who converted a direct free-kick on the edge of the area to score the winning goal.

 

In the end

Setting your team out on the pitch may be an important element to managing a football team, making in-game adjustment is quite another thing. And these in-game adjustments in exactly where Van Veldhoven won one over NAC’s John Karelse and Gert Aandewiel. Pushing the full-back’s on in order to win the game in the wide area’s won the game for Roda, as NAC didn’t correct the failings of their wingers not tracking back.

So, from a tactical point of view, we’ve seen a deserved victory and come the end of the season, we can safely say that Roda’s diamond went top of the table, if only for a day…

Twente’s dominant midfield triangle undone by cleverly organised Roda… Missing Kenneth Perez?

Yesterday evening saw the much awaited kick-off of the Dutch Eredivisie. And it was the defending champion’s honour to feature in the first match, away against last year’s number nine, Roda JC. A potentially tough fixture as Roda performed particularly well in the second half of last year’s competition and, in contrast to Twente, succeeded in keeping much of their squad together during the summer transfer window. Of their regularly featured players, only midfielder Marcel de Jong and central defender Jean-Paul Saeijs departed. New signing Jimmy Hempte from Belgian outfit KV Kortrijk was attracted as the new central defense partner to the athletic and passionate part-Norwegian, part-Gambian Pah-Modou Kah.

Twente’s squad deflated

Twente saw a much bigger chunk of their preferred 2009 line-up leave their squad. Just look at this list of names…  Striker and captain Blaise N’Kufo, who scored 96 goals in 193 matches for Twente; prolific left winger Miroslav Stoch, loaned from Chelsea, now on loan at Fenerbahce; creative force in midfield Kenneth Perez, who provided 22 assists in 82 Twente matches and finally right-back Ronnie Stam who missed just one Eredivisie match last season. And what’s more, success manager (in Holland that is) Steve McLaren left FC Twente for fallen German Champions Wolfsburg.

 

 

New investments

New manager Michel Preud’homme was allowed to invest nearly ten million euro to replace the key players mentioned before. Let’s go over a few of the signings made. Six million was spent to attract 1.96m high striker Mark Janko who scored 23 goals for Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg last year. A further three million was invested in lightning quick left winger Emir Bajrami, who recently earned his first cap for Sweden. And Belgian manager Preud’homme did some homeland shopping in attracting Zulte-Waregems Bart Buysse to replace Ronnie Stam at left-back.

Twente’s well-known 4-3-3

In the opening game of the 2010/11 season, only left winger Bajrami featured in the first eleven, while no less than four new signings had to take place on the bench. Twente started with the exact same line-up as they did when winning the Johan Cruijff Schaal in Ajax’ ArenA last Saturday. This meant a 4-3-3 with a narrow midfield triangle pointing backwards, aiming for control of the central midfield, with a running winger on the left and Ruiz in a drifting role coming inside from the right wing.

Roda’s aggressive 4-4-2 diamond

Roda took a very interesting approach by lining up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, thereby electing not to battle it out with Twente’s dominant midfield players, but rather trying to play around it, using athletic wide midfield performances by Laurent Delorge on the right and Willem Janssen on the left. Their formation fielded two out-and-out strikers, something which always bears the risk of being one man short in midfield when facing 4-3-3 and 4-5-1-esque formations. Look at their 4-4-2 diamond in this early match screen.

Excuse the low image resolution, will be fixed as soon as better images are available

Pressure is so 2010…

During the first minutes of the game Roda’s game plan was clearly visible. Intense pressure on Twente’s central midfield and defense, leaving them no options other than side passes to full-backs Tiendalli and Carney who saw a low of the balls that Twente would preferentially run by Wout Brama and Theo Janssen during the build-up of play.

Midfield roles, again…

In 11tegen11’s article on Ajax’ midfield performance during their home draw against PAOK we’ve discussed the concept of the three different midfield roles that are characteristic of a three-man midfield combination, be it 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-2-1-3 or 4-5-1. Credits again to the excellent article on Zonal Marking defining the concepts of destroyer, passer and creator.

Let’s try and determine the different roles of the three central midfield players that Twente fielded against both Ajax and Roda. As mentioned previously, their midfield is a narrow triangle pointed backwards, therefore containing one pure controlling midfielder and two central midfielders.

Three different Twente midfielders

Wout Brama

Wout Brama is their single holding midfielder who obviously does not play the creator role from that position. Whether he plays a destroyer or a passer role is a more tricky question. His style of play tends to be that of a passer, but he doesn’t have another controlling midfielder by his side, like for example in a 4-2-3-1 or in a defensive flat 4-4-2 formation. Therefore, since he is often faced with at least one nearby opponent, severely limiting his passing options, his play mostly tends to a destroyer role.

Cheik Tioté definitely has the build of a destroyer midfielder. He’s physically strong, wins tackles and positions himself well. He therefore plays best when facing a direct opponent, allowing one-on-one midfield battles. However, as he’s lined up as Twente’s right-sided central midfielder, things depend on the opposing formation for him. If the opposing formation has a left-sided central midfielder for him to battle against, like for example in a 4-2-3-1 or in a flat 4-4-2, things are looking good for Tioté.

Theo Janssen is a technically gifted player, making it easy to say he’s the perfect creator midfielder. However, he’s only half-perfect. Providing dangerous passes is only half the job that a creator does. The other half of this role consisting of positional creativity, making dangerous runs, drifting into space. Imagine Mesut Özil’s role during the World Cup and you’ll get the picture. So despite his excellent technical skills, Theo Janssen is not a true creator type of player. Twente will definitely miss Kenneth Perez’s quality in this regard.

Roda’s effective counterplay

Against Roda’s diamond midfield, these problems of Twente’s midfield became exposed. Brama was effectively limited to a destroyer role in the presence of direct opponent Hadouir, who did a good job never to be far from his side during Twente’s possession of the ball. Tioté was not given a direct opponent to excel against, since a diamond midfield has no left and right central midfielder. Compare his game against Roda with his recent performance against Ajax and you’ll know. And the static play of Theo Janssen in a forced creator role was all too easy to defend for Ruud Vormer, playing at the base of Roda’s midfield diamond.

In the end

The smart choice of a high pressing diamond midfield lined-up against Twente’s 4-3-3 ensured that Twente could never do what it did best. During their past successful season they patiently circulated the ball, waiting for a sparkling Bryan Ruiz moment. To Roda’s credits this moment never really looked like arriving yesterday…