Feyenoord managed to recover from their historical 10-0 defeat at the hands of PSV last weekend. At least in the sense that they managed to get the three points playing VVV at home. Despite this positive result, their performance did not provide the sparks of light that may have been hoped for.
Feyenoord’s formation has been described merely as a 4-3-3 before and despite all that’s been happening at the club recently, Mario Been is not one to change his tactical plan. His Feyenoord play a rather flat back four with only left-back De Cler getting involved on the flank at times. The midfield triangle against was composed of Mokotjo, El Ahmadi and Bruins, in decreasing order of defensive responsibilities. All three midfield players tend to change positions quite frequently, which could have worked well in a settled team, but to the current Feyenoord team it seems to add to the instability that characterizes the team.
VVV’s season has not been covered in glory either. Managing just two wins and losing all other eight matches going into this match, Jan van Dijk’s side are ranked 17th and the fear of relegation starts to appear. They operate a 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 system in their home matches, but tend to go for a more stable 4-2-3-1 in away matches, as they did today too.
The opening phase was definitely proof of the fear that had settled in both teams. VVV refrained from pressing Feyenoord, except from deep in their own half and Feyenoord did not succeed in stringing a few passes together in their opponent’s half. Despite a very low speed of ball circulation, Feyenoord’s midfield passing accuracy was dreadful, making it fairly impossible for the team to feed the ball from defense to attack. One of the things that contributed to their midfield problems is that all three central midfield players rotated too frequently, making it difficult to play repeat patterns both for themselves are for their teammates.
The first half effectively blew over without much incidents or tactical issues worth mentioning. VVV seemed happy enough to settle for a draw and Feyenoord, as could be expected, still suffered a lot from their recent 10-0 blow.
Yes, indeed… More fuel for the goal-line technology discussion arose when Josué cleared the ball from behind the goal-line after a Wijnaldum header. Although Feyenoord did not express the advantage on the scoreboard at that moment, it served to inspire the team.
VVV manager Jan van Dijk must have picked the hour mark to try and put his stamp on the game. He brought strong Nigerian striker Uchebo instead of attacking midfielder Josué, which implied that VVV played a regular 4-4-2 from that moment on. With both Boymans and Uchebo proving an aerial force, VVV turned to a rather direct play. A further sign of their attacking intentions was the increasingly advanced defensive line, playing an offside trap.
Although an attacking change to their tactics might have won VVV some support, on the pitch it definitely backfired on them. The combination of VVV’s midfield being reduced from five to four players and the space they gave away behind their defensive line was exactly what was needed to unleash the powers of Feyenoord’s offensive thinking midfield trio. After having had a lot of trouble connecting their passes in the first hour or the game, El Ahmadi and Bruins succeeded in increasing their pass completion rate and Feyenoord started dominating the game in midfield.
It was only a few minutes after VVV switched to a 4-4-2 that Feyenoord scored the opening goal. Wijnaldum made a very well timed run from deep and was played onside with a through-ball by El Ahmadi. The youngster finished with a technically well executed lob to put Feyenoord in the lead. The sighs of relief coming from ‘De Kuip’ must have been heard around the entire city!
Extending the lead
VVV pushed for an equalizer by playing a direct 4-4-2 game, aimed at getting the ball to one of their strong strikers and hoping for the best. Although a few small chances arose from these long balls, it was mainly Feyenoord finally stringing some combinations together in the opposing half.
In the closing minutes Feyenoord managed to score two more goal, one from a corner through a Bahia header and the other was scored by Wijnaldum again. Although it helped putting some smiles on Rotterdam faces for a changes, a 1-0 victory would have represented the balance on the pitch a lot better.
In the end
Relegation football it was and that about sums it up. Feyenoord at home against VVV should not be that type of game, but given the fact that it was only a few days after their historical defeat against PSV, this was perhaps the best that could be expected from a wounded Feyenoord side. Besides their severe midfield passing issues, perhaps not too much weight should be given to the tactical considerations in this match.
VVV did not get what they hoped for with their offensive choice to go 4-4-2 with half an hour to go, but it had itself to blame. Their poor execution of a high pressing defensive line and the subsequent offside trap were at fault for the opening goal.