Monday, 10 October 2011

Newcastle 3-2 Heart: Match Analysis

This was an electric and energetic affair between two clubs who were devoted to committing players forward in the attack. Newcastle started the brightest, pressing Heart intensely to prevent their build-up play. Heart eventially grew into the contest as Newcastle's fitness faded, and although it was a fairly even game, on the balance of play, Heart did not deserve to lose; the three goals scored against them were the result of a superb Griffiths free kick from a silly foul by Germano, a mistaken pass by rookie defender Good, and a deflection off Marrone from a Byun shot that wrong-footed the keeper. Conversely, Heart's two goals were absolute marvels; rapid passing while running at pace, clever positional interchange and lethal finishing by Dugandzic.

Deans sent Newcastle out in a 4-3-3 formation; Topor-Stanely and Tiago partnered in central defence, Byun and Elrich were at left and right fullback, Wheelhouse, Wehrman and Zadkovich formed a fluid trio in central midfield. Griffiths lead the line, with Haliti at right and Abbas at left wing, although Griffiths and Haliti often exchanged positions.

Byun scored on his debut
The back-four held a relatively high-line, looking to compress the field of play. Deans instructed his attacking trio to press the Heart defence when out of possession, and this they carried out with aplomb, relentlessly harrying Thompson and Good. It was a profitable strategy as well; Griffiths scored easily when Abbas and Haliti harassed Good, who coughed up possession with a wayward pass. But the main objective of the Jets pressing was to prevent Heart's build up play; once or twice Griffiths even deliberately strayed offside to cut out Roganovic as a passing option. In this they were largely successful, forcing Roganovic to punt the ball long, although as mentioned, Newcastle tired toward the end of the match. This is the correct strategy to employ against Heart.

Griffiths was simply phenonemal as the No. 9, frequently making incisive runs, imposing himself in dangerous positions and capitalising on Heart mistakes through ruthless finishing. Byun and Elrich also had productive games, advancing into midfield and overlapping.

Newcastle's midfield trio are all defensively aware players, and rotated positions. Abbas and Haliti performed well, linking with Griffiths and energetically pressing and attacking.

van't Schip was without GK Bolton or CB Colosimo. He sent out Heart in a 4-3-3 with some modifications. Thompson was paired with AIS graduate Good in central defence. Marrone was stationed at right and Behich was deployed at left fullback. Germano debuted at defensive midfield. Debutant striker Maycon led the line, Williams and Dugandzic were inverted, the former on the left wing and the latter on the right, to enable them to cut in and shoot. The most intriguing selection was of Jason Hoffman, a nominal forward, in central midfield. His driving runs into the attacking third in support of Maycon and Williams were very effective early on, and created Heart's first goal.

Heart are known for their expansive football. Thompson and Good held a high line and were pressed intensely to good effect for the opposition. In truth, Germano, Behich and Marrone should have come shorter to offer passing options.

Heart's attack was truly breathtaking at times. Behich and Marrone advanced high up the pitch in support of Dugandzic and Williams cutting-in. Fred was masterful as a trequartista, showcasing his flair by jinking past the Newcastle defenders and loosing slide rule passes for Dugandzic and Williams to latch onto. The two inverted wingers had a field day with their pace, getting behind the defence to put balls into the box, and their stamina was a valuable asset, enabling them to raid up and down the flank for the duration of the game.

Heart's two goals were a glorious display of attacking football. On 23', Roganovic punted the ball to Fred by the centre circle, who laid off to Hoffman. Hoffman did a one-two with Williams who was sprinting up the left. Hoffman dribbled onto the edge of the box, turned Topor-Stanely and cut back to Dugandzic at the penalty spot, who finished with aplomb. On 50', Kennedy's clearance fell fortuitously to Fred, who was situated in front of Newcastle's central defenders, but behind Wehrman and Wheelhouse. Fred charged left toward the box, and unleashed a crisp cross to the far-post, which Dugandzic again finished.

Having shipped three goals, has Heart's expansive style left them too vulnerable at the back? You'd think having deployed such attack oriented players on the flanks; Behich and Williams, Marrone and Dugandzic, that this would be the area of the pitch Heart would be weak. Actually, all four players, while very effective in an attacking sense, were energetic in sprinting back to defend in tandem. It was through the middle that Newcastle attacks were successful, with Good hesitant and a tad naive in possession, and Germano not particularly effective at stopping Zadkovich's runs from midfield. On the evidence of this encounter, once Colosimo returns to central defence to add some steel to the silky play, Heart have the attacking weapons to mount a serious title challenge.

This match surely featured the two A-League clubs with the most fetching kits; Newcastle's home kit inspired by the blue and scarlet giants of Catalonia, Heart's away kit inspired by River Plate (which I'm sure thrilled Jonathan Germano, whose hometown is Buenos Aires). Take note Victory; fluro doesn't necessarily equal flashy.

It was rather interesting to see the similarities between two diminutive and electrifying Heart players, Behich and Dugandzic. Both started their careers as left wingers, but van't Schip has convered Aziz to left fullback and inverted Mate to right winger.

Heart are justified to feel somewhat aggrieved by this result, though their sloppy defending gifted Newcastle opportunities, which the hosts capitalised on. Newcastle were extremely energetic and aggressive, refusing to let Heart dictate play; they looked unaffected by the off-field controversy.

If Brisbane are the Barcelona of the A-League, than Heart most definitely have the strongest similarity to Arsenal; scintilating one-touch attacking football coupled with a shaky defence - the resemblance is uncanny.

Player Rankings: (Players ranked from 10-1, GK and subs inserted)
10) Germano
9) Good
8) Roganovic
7) Thompson
6) Maycon, Covic
5) Marrone, Kalmar, Terra
4) Behich
3) Williams
2) Dugandzic
1) Fred

10) Zadkovich
9)Topor-Stanley, Kantarovski
8) Wheelhouse
7) Wehrman
6) Tiago, Brockie, Kennedy
5) Elrich
4) Byun
3) Abbas
2) Haliti
1) Griffiths


cptFantasy said...

Some of the most through and informative analysis I've seen on the A-League! It's made me very positive about the season ahead! AAA+ Go Arsenal?

Pass and Move said...

Thanks for the compliment cptFantasy, appreciate your support.

Can i ask how you found this site?