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

Posted on 11 December 2010


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.

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