Monday, 31 October 2011

Heart 1-1 Sydney: Match Analysis

A vintage Arsenal Heart performance. Control of possession, impatience in constructing attacks, lack of a clear final ball and defensive frailty. A classic North London Red and White recipe. Sydney showed a measure of resilience, and could certainly take encouragement away from the improved performance by Brett Emerton, and the continued excellent form of Nick Carle in concert with Karol Kisel. In truth, Heart controlled the second half; it was theirs to win or lose, and a failure to kill the game after their late goal cost them dearly. Fate is exacting a heavy toll on Heart's mistakes so far this season; all they can do is hope that Karma will shine on them in the weeks to come.

Heart System:
Van't Schip redeployed the Red and Whites in a 4-1-2-3, wth the side unchanged from the Derby against Victory. Bolton remained between the sticks, Colosimo was partnered with Good in central defence, with Behich and Marrone advanced at left and right fullback. Germano was the holder in midfield, with Thompson and Shroj advanced. Williams and Dugandzic were inverted at left and right wing, with Terra operating as a false nine, dropping deep to vacate space and dictate play.

Sydney System:
Lavicka set out the Sky Blues in a 4-2-3-1, the side largely unchanged. Reddy returned between the sticks, Beauchamp and Bosschart partnered in central defence, with Jamieson and Coyne at left and right fullback. McFlynn operated as the destroyer in midfield, Kisel was advanced as the passer. Emerton was inverted on the left, though he switched flanks with Antonis initially on the right. Bridge was preferred over target man Cazarine to lead the line, with Carle behind as the trequartista.

Typical Melbourne weather:
The first half was a literal wash-out. Rain sheeted down from the heavens, and the inclement weather severely disrupted both teams, with neither Sydney nor Heart able to impose their regular rhythm. The half disintegrated into a constant exchange of counter blows, with possession being regularly turned over in the final third.

Heart ascendant:
The beginning of the second period coincided with more moderate weather. Heart benefitted most, as their ability to retain possession became apparent. For the first 20 minutes, the Red and Whites held onto 80% of possession. Despite dominating time on the ball, Heart's attacks fell apart in Sydney's defensive half, due to a lack of a controlling presence in midfield which caused impatience.

Of Heart's midfield three, neither Thompson, Shroj or Germano were given primary responsibility to dictate play or disttribute possession. This in itself is not a weakness; generally speaking its an advantage to not have a creative 'bottleneck' in a side, which is one the reasons classic playmakers have fallen out of fashion at the highest level. In fact Germano did well in shutting down Carle, Thompson was very aggressive in exploiting the space vacated by Terra and Shroj was... Shroj, expanding his impressive collection of yellow cards. Nonetheless, Heart would have benefitted from a controlling personality in midfield, which might have been provided by Fred.

Their attacks played out a fairly predictable pattern. Heart's attackers would generally allow Sydney to reform their defensive lines to try to patiently building attacks. They would probe from flank to flank, progressing towards the Sky Blues goal. But Heart suffered from over eagerness to play the final ball, and after an exchange of passes, one of the forwards would play a vertical through ball for another player to chase, cheaply giving away the ball instead of retaining possession.

This was an absurd contrast, and Heart should have stuck to one of the two approaches - either a) attacking with speed (which they certainly have through Marrone, Behich, Williams and Dugandzic) broadly on the counter, not allowing Sydney to reform their lines or b) patiently building attacks by creating passing angles. Undoubtedly, Heart would have benefitted from slowing the pace of the game and really constructing attacks. More, not less sideways (well, diagonal anyway) passes, despite what pundits may say.

The Sky Blues No 7 performed much brighter in this match, particularly when he was shifted back to the right in the second half. PM would like to highlight that the three crosses Emerton delivered from the right wing in the second half, were the best deliveries of the night, and probably of the Round. They were measured, and very accurate, creating aerial problems for Colosimo and Good.

PM remains of the opinion that Emerton, while effective, is being misused inverted on the left. A player of his talent is wasted teeing up crosses for his overlapping fullback, when he could deliver delicious crosses himself, especially at right fullback, where Emerton would have time and space on the ball. Cazarine is a fantastic target man, but Sydney are yet to provide him with his preferred diet of crosses.

Coutesy of South America:
Fred's return from injury could be what Heart need to finally start their season. Indeed Heart's South American quartet provide an intriguing selection dilemma, with the possibility of Maycon leading the line, Terra as a trequartista or narrow on the wing, Fred deep as the regista and Germano as the holder.

Goal Analysis:
Maycon 85' - Classic Heart really, probing and passing around the penalty area, Dugandzic shoots, ball deflected and falls generously. Maycon does well to control the ball and finish.

Carle 94' - Why didn't Heart kill the game? 10 minutes left, all Heart had to do was to play keep away for a little while, retaining possession in their defensive shape. Instead, they kept trying to attack or waste time near the corner flag which stretched the team. Emerton corner (again, stellar delivery), not properly cleared, centered for Carle who deflected it in.

There really isn't much to say about this game in a tactical sense, it was fairly predictable. With the two sides utilising fairly similar systems (4-3-3 variants), the match degenerated into individual battles. Heart controlled possession, lacked a final ball, and had defensive frailties exposed. Sydney can take encouragement from their last gasp equaliser, as well as snatching points away from home.

One of the issues Sydney faced was Emerton and Antonis doing little work to pin back the Heart fullbacks. Emerton is a defensively aware player, but inverted on the left, he found it hard to track back against Marrone. Antonis came inside, which left Behich free.

Time is speeding away for Heart. We are almost a fifth of the way into the season, and the Red and Whites are yet to post a win. They are now in the exact same position as at the start of last season, and there is potential for this disastrous start to severely weaken their ability to guarantee Finals football. It really is unfortunate; Heart did not deserve to lose against Newcastle or Perth, and really should have won against Victory and Sydney.

Sydney have seemed more cohesive and solid with each match that passes. Emerton in particular looks increasingly comfortable with his place in Lavicka's system. Can Sydney mount a concerted title challenge? Season 7 of the A-League has become a race for the silver medal, with Brisbane utterly dominant. Emerton, Carle and Kisel are beginning to form an effective trio at the centre of the Sky Blues midfield, and if they can continue to improve and produce fluent performances, Sydney might be able to challenge for one of the Top 3 spots.

Player Rankings:
Heart | Sydney
10) Shroj | Bridge
9) Marrone | Bosschart
8) Good | Beauchamp
7) Williams | McFlynn
6) Dugandzic | Coyne
5) Behich | Antonis
4) Colosimo | Jamieson
3) Germano | Emerton
2) Thompson | Kisel
1) Terra | Carle


Tim Palmer said...

Interesting, but not sure if Sydney were playing the 4-2-3-1 or a diamond.

Guess it's all a bit subjective anyway, and pretty easy to get lost in a game where the ball just kept passing the midifeld.

Good job.

Pass and Move said...

Hey Tim, thanks for the comment.

You're right of course, it is hard to figure out Sydney's system. It's not a diamond, because Carle isn't/wasn't operating as a striker, but then again, Kisel and McFlynn weren't in a rigid double pivot. Add that to Antonis' positioning and it becomes very confusing. I've depicted it as 4-2-3-1, because that's the best way to fit in the nominal positions on the players on the pitch.

Can I ask how you found out about this site?

Tim said...

Agree with your points.

I found the site through stalking Zonal Marking's Twitter follow list, then following you as I am an Aussie with loyalties to Sydney FC, and seeing your link on Twitter.

Pass and Move said...

Ah that's excellent, don't get enough Sydney visitors here. You should vote in the supporters poll on the sidebar.

Thanks for your support

davec said...

There are other Sydney supporters reading out here on reader land. your site is one of teh best analysis sites i have come accross.

Pass and Move said...

Point taken Davec, thanks for the support. But the city of Melbourne is comfortably beating Sydney for PM readers, about 30 to 15 according to the sidebar poll. Spread the word about PM!


jmac said...

intersting, I didn't consider SFC could be in a b*stardised 4-2-3-1. my impression so far this year of SFC's formation is a midfield diamond with 2 up, but carle dropping in b/w the lines, almost creating 2 playmakers at times (carle and antonis). I think coming from high and dropping in like this gives carle the ability to get into space more often, rather than when he is playing as a straight out 10, and getting marked tighter. I thought that quite smart from lavicka. pretty sure I saw the same on the weekend, but it was quite messy at times in the rain, and SFC players seemed to be switching positions nicely with some decent movement etc. also emmo when on the right tends to play wider than in a normal diamond (I agree with you too, would like to see him at RB). so its all a bit skewed which can be a good thing. dunno, just my thoughts for what its worth.. nice job again! cheers,

Pass and Move said...

Thanks for the comment jmac

Yeah I agree about Antonis/Carle positioning but as a i said to tim, 4-2-3-1 is best for their nominal positions as they arent in a true diamond.

What has freed Carle is Kisel. With Kisel in the side, Carle doesnt have to drop deep to receive.