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.
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.
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.
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.