Friday, 18 November 2011

12 points on Heart 3-0 Newcastle

Here are 12 tactical points on Heart's three-nil victory against Newcastle. 

1) With both teams playing similar 4-3-3 formations, the match tended to revolve around individual battles. Simply put, wingers vs fullbacks, strikers vs central defenders, midfielders marking each other. 

2) Heart, with more technical players, were better at retaining possession. Refer to the tactical diagram; with similar formations cancelling each other out, the only players without direct opponents shutting them down was the spare centre back; Topor-Stanley for Newcastle and Thompson OR Hamill for Heart. Both Heart central defenders were very comfortable advancing into midfield, creating an extra man, ensuring that the home team always had an free option to retain possession. 

3) Heart's fullbacks Behich and Marrone were very aggressive in advancing to provide width. As a consequence, the Newcastle wide men Griffiths and Brockie were dragged backwards, leaving Jeffers isolated up front. The inside forwards Dugandzic and Maycon/Terra were able to cut-inside, with the knowledge that the fullbacks would provide width. 

4) In Round 1, Newcastle were able to successfully press Heart high up the pitch, disrupting their build-up play. This time around, Newcastle sat a little deeper, probably to compensate for Jeffers, who lacked match fitness. 

5) Terra often switched flanks with Maycon, so that both spent large periods of the game as the central striker and as the left inside forward. When Terra was used as the central striker, he re-interpreted his False Nine role. Because of his right-sidedness, when used as a false nine, Terra usually drifted to the right flank. In this match, he drifted left to create space for Maycon to exploit. This particular switch was reminiscent of Vucinic being converted to left inside forward to exploit the space created by Totti, a trequartista deployed as the most advanced forward for Roma, the very first incarnation of the False Nine. 
6) With Fred as the regista, Terra as the false nine or narrow trequartista and Dugandzic creative cutting-in, Heart were playing with three creative hubs, meaning that it was very hard to shut down their play. 

7) Jeffers is a class apart, and an excellent signing for Newcastle. Though clearly struggling for match fitness, he is clearly a superior reader of the game, and his technique in close quarters, bringing his team mates into play, is very impressive. 

8) Eli Babalj was the game changer. Brought on for Maycon ten minutes into the second period, the imposing striker was able to offer a new, totally different and conspicuously absent dimension to Heart's forward line; excellent hold-up play. With Babalj acting, not as a spearhead as such, but more of an advanced fulcrum, Heart's other forwards are now able to rely on Babalj to hold onto the ball, affording them crucial extra seconds to measure passes and contemplate runs. He also provides a considerable aerial presence, not so much as a goal threat, but as a way of relieving pressure on the back-line. In a way, Babalj's role was similar to that of Emile Heskey's for England; more about creating space and bringing other attackers into play than presenting a goal threat in and of himself. 

9) After a few substitutions, which allowed JVS to try Thompson as leftback with the impending absence of Behich and give Madaschi his debut in central defence, he also pushed Behich up to conventional left wing. JVS recognised that in using a physical target man to provide a fixed point of reference for the attack, there was less merit in using inverted wingers. Behich was able to move forward into left wing and provide width from the front, stretching the Newcastle defence and increasing the space for Babalj to utilise his already considerable physical advantage.

10) Commentators made the point that all of Heart's goal scorers were ex-Victory players. That does make you think, especially when you consider JVS hasn't fielded a single one in the positions they regularly occupied in Navy Blue. Fred has been withdrawn from trequartista to regista, Dugandzic has been inverted from left to right wing and Behich has been converted from wing to fullback. 

11) Momentum was a key factor late in the game, especially after Newcastle conceded a soft goal from a mis-cued back pass. 

12) Sheer pace is a significant fillip for Heart. Just as stamina underpins Brisbane's dominance, and their use of the high press, Heart's speed enables them to deploy aggressive players at wing and fullback, safe in the knowledge the wide players will get forward to press and get back to cover. 

Goal Analysis:
Fred 65' - Fred goes on a slalom run from the left touch line to the edge of the box, dodging Haliti, Griffiths and drawing Topor-Stanley out of the backline. Ball slipped to Babalj, who holds of the challenges of Regan, Topor-Stanley and Wehrman, showcasing technique and physicality. Ball slipped back to Fred, who finishes. 

Dugandzic 72' - Elrich mis-cused back pass to Kennedy, Dugandzic intercepts. Behich on the left for support, Dugandzic calmly finishes at the near post. 

Behich 83' - Thompson at leftback, ball over the top for Behich to chase. Behich turns pursuing Kantarovski inside and out, before finishing across Kennedy. 

Bonus Point:
I bet the Squadron are happy that Tinkler changed the kits now; Newcastle don two of the sexier kits in the A-League. A far cry from their old muddy gold jerseys which made even the defunct Fury look respectable. 


Heart_Away13 said...

Brilliant.... Loving your work more and more, your ability to make complex tactics simple, easy to read and enjoyable is beginning to make my week. I have to agree with your regarding the Newcastle strips behind the hearts I think they are easily the next best.... Keep up the good work

Pass and Move said...

Thanks Heart Away, your support is really appreciated. In a blog like this, hearing these kind of compliments is the best reward.

I think Newcastle's Newcastle inspired away kit might even beat Heart's away for sexiness.

Please do come back for more, and tell you friends about PM.

Anonymous said...

Excellent work mate. Keep it up.

Pass and Move said...

Cheers Anon, appreciate the support. Come back for more, and tell your friends about PM.