Connect with us

Specials

Analysis: How have the Dutch performed tactically at this World Cup?

With a goal on the counter in each of their group games, Van Gaal’s men have put up an effective approach when it comes to counter-attacking football.

Considering the man responsible for prepping the squad tactically, it’s of no surprise that LvG’s Holland have taken a more straightforward attacking mentality.

The set-up initially did not appear to suit the usual approach, with the three center-backs showing rather odd implications. Moreover, the front three were all placed a lot narrower than expected, establishing the set-up as a 5-2-1-2.

The counter-attacking phase is more than often handled by the front three – the attacking midfielder along with the front two.

The article shall discuss the system in three segments of play.

Defensive segment

Tackles

The team appears to be very dedicated to making tackles to retrieve the ball, especially in progressive parts of the defensive half. This commitment complements the counter-attacking system.

Comment

The Dutch rank second in terms of total tackles made (71), just two behind Spain (73).

As of the group stages, the Netherlands have given way the most number of fouls (68).

Wing-Back Role

The wing-backs appear to have a less strict role in regard to positioning. Although usually positioned along the defensive line to set as a back five, the wing-backs constantly move into the void, left due to the absence of wingers, to press opposition players, and serve as roots for the counter.

Large void left due to winger absence. Opposition passes into void. Blind moves into space to intercept.

Large void left due to winger absence. Opposition passes into void. Blind moves into space to intercept.

 

Blind heads ball on to Robben to trigger the counter.

Blind heads ball on to Robben to trigger the counter.

Comment

Daley Blind and Daryl Janmaat have made the most tackles in the squad, averaging almost 5 tackles each per game.

Defensively-oriented Midfield

The two deep midfielders adopt a rather defensive approach. One operates a deep ball winning role (usually De Guzman) and opts to make interceptions, win aerial battles and cover spaces rather than rush into tackles and make extensive playmaking efforts. Headers won in midfield have been a constant trigger for Dutch counters.

The other role is that of a defensive midfielder (usually De Jong), involved a lot more often defensively and makes tackles in the hole-area.

Comment

De Jong has averaged the most tackles in midfield for the team, with 3 successful tackles each game.

De Guzman has not made a single tackle in his 2 appearances, but has an 80% aerial success ratio.

Transition segment

Overloaded Central area of Defensive half

The absence of wingers leaves a lot more players in the central areas during defense and transition, drawing opposition players into midfield. This leaves more room for the front two to position themselves.

Long Balls

With a long ball approach, the midfield phase is almost negligible even with regard to non-counter attacking play.

The transition phase more than often starts from long balls rather than short passes to make room, which favors a quick transition, and a devastating counter.

Long balls arrive more than often from the deep defensive areas, skipping the entire midfield where most of the opposition players are stationed.

Comment

Ron Vlaar, De Vrij and De Jong have attempted almost 8 long balls each per game.

The team has a short pass to long ball ratio less than 4:1 (i.e. of every 5 passes made, 1 is a long ball).

The Netherlands are 3rd in terms of long passes per game (about 70/game).

Movement oriented attack

Another aspect of the style of play that favors counter-attacks is how the players are more focused on forward movement rather than sitting in space to provide close passing options and retain possession during transition.

This does, however, ask a lot from the players with the ball, who must frequently play their way out of trouble. This explains the attacking midfielder’s role behind the front two. Many instances showed how passing the ball to the attacking midfielder (Sniejder) drew multiple players toward him. If the attacking midfielder succeeds in getting away, a lot more room opens up for the counter, without having to make any more passes in midfield.

Opposition players drawn towards Sneijder, who manages to turn away and find a pass to Wijnaldum.

Opposition players drawn towards Sneijder, who manages to turn away and find a pass to Wijnaldum.

 

The single pass creates space for Wijnaldum to move into, trigerring the counter with the two forward players already positioned.

The single pass creates space for Wijnaldum to move into, trigerring the counter with the two forward players already positioned.

Attacking Segment

The front two

Having two players up only further favors the cause. One functions as the outlet and the other serves as both the option and decoy.

 

v. Persie's movement serves as the option. This prevents the centre back from immediately closing down Robben, allowing the counter to progress.

v. Persie’s movement serves as the option. This prevents the centre back from immediately closing down Robben, allowing the counter to progress.

The front two have a rather free role in the defensive phase, and are more concerned with positioning and movement.

With negligible defensive responsibility, Robben sits in pockets above the opposition defence.

With negligible defensive responsibility, Robben sits in pockets above the opposition defence.

Narrow placement

Robben, more than often, sits narrower, as compared to his traditional role on the flank.

The narrower position provides a less angular path for diagonal movement as compared to the wide role. A smaller angle does increase the distance-to-shot, but it also serves favorable for quick players when it comes to beating defenders on the run.

Robben's runs for Bayern.

Robben’s runs for Bayern.

Robben's runs for Holland.

Robben’s runs for Holland.

Comment

Robben appears to be the biggest threat during Dutch counter-attacks, having been involved in all three goals that came on the counter.

He has averaged 3 successful dribbles and 3 shots on goal per game, and has made 7 key passes, provided an assist and scored 3 goals in three appearances.

Decoy run

A common trend with the Dutch counter seems to be decoy runs made by the option to create space for the outlet (Robben) to run into. The ploy has more than often proven to create enough space for a shot on goal.

Lens makes decoy run, drawing the defender with him.

Lens makes decoy run, drawing the defender with him.

The run makes space for Robben to move into, creating a chance for a shot.

The run makes space for Robben to move into, creating a chance for a shot.

Sauharda Karki

Sauharda Karki

Sauharda is a football enthusiast with primal focus on the tactical side of football.
Sauharda Karki

100 to Watch

Latest

Opinions23 hours ago

Analysis: Guide To Formations With Three At The Back

Youssef Amin tactically lays out the merits and demerits of the two commonly used three-man defence formations.  Three at the...

Specials2 days ago

Mr. Huddersfield: Why Andy Booth is a Huddersfield Town Legend

Sivan John takes us down a trip down memory lane as he tells the story of Huddersfield Town legend, Andy...

Talent Radar2 days ago

U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #11: Will Hughes and Donny van de Beek feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Young Players Team of the Week with the best young...

Bengaluru FC3 days ago

Three Things We Learned: Bengaluru FC 2-0 Mumbai City FC

Sami Faizullah discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Bengaluru FC 2-0 Mumbai City FC...

Indian Football3 days ago

Three Things We Learned: Chennaiyin FC 2-3 FC Goa

Hrishi Anand discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Chennaiyin FC 2-3 FC Goa Chennaiyin...

Indian Football4 days ago

Three Things We Learned: NorthEast United 0-0 Jamshedpur

Sauharda Karki discusses three talking points after the Indian Super League game finished NorthEast United 0-0 Jamshedpur The second game...

Talent Radar5 days ago

Veikkausliiga U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Season 2017: Talent Radar

As the Veikkausliiga season has finished, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize the accomplishments...

Indian Football5 days ago

Three Things We Learned: Kerala Blasters 0-0 ATK

Aravind Unnikrishnan discusses three talking points after the Indian Super League opener finished Kerala Blasters 0-0 ATK The inaugural match...

Indian Football6 days ago

Indian Super League 2017-18: Five Indian Players To Watch

Hrishi Anand looks at 5 Indian players to watch in the 2017-18 edition of the Indian Super League. The 4th...

Talent Radar1 week ago

Womens’ Young Player of the Year 2017: Vivianne Miedema

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look...

Talent Radar1 week ago

South American Young Player of the Year 2017: Gabriel Jesus

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look...

Talent Radar1 week ago

Oceanian Young Player of the Year 2017: Bill Tuiloma

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look...

Talent Radar1 week ago

North American Young Player of the Year 2017: Christian Pulisic

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look...

Talent Radar1 week ago

European Young Player of the Year 2017: Kylian Mbappé

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look...

Talent Radar1 week ago

Asian Young Player of the Year 2017: Hee Chan Hwang

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look...

Talent Radar1 week ago

African Young Player of the Year 2017: Naby Keita

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look...

Opinions1 week ago

The revival of Dzeko and Kolarov

Travis Knoppert compares the quality and the recent revival of Dzeko and Kolarov with their cheap transfer fees. After only...

Tactical Analysis1 week ago

Tactical Analysis: Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla | Barca’s diamond-esque shape hands them victory

Miles Olusina provides a tactical analysis of the La Liga game that finished Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla Despite being written off by...

Specials2 weeks ago

USA out of the World Cup: What happened and what next for the Soccer Nation?

Anderson Moura has his say on the USA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, what caused...

Tactical Analysis2 weeks ago

Tactical Analysis: River Plate 1-2 Boca Juniors | Organized Boca Punish River On The Counter

Youssef Amin provides a tactical analysis of the latest edition of the Superclasico as the final score read River Plate 1-2...

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Young Player Rankings 17-18

More on Outside of the Boot