The final analysis, part two: different ways of dealing with wingers

July 15, 2010

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s lack of pace was cited as a potential weakness before every Holland game, and the Dutch captain seemed to acknowledge his weakness in that respect. Therefore, he made sure to stick tight to whichever winger he came up against. Here, Pedro comes very deep to get the ball, and van Bronckhorst tracks him all the way.

The same thing happened when Pedro drifted across the field into central positions. Here, Pedro (red) has moved across from the right-wing, so van Bronckhorst (yellow) follows him across, even though it means getting level with the right-sided centre-back. Dirk Kuyt (green) is forced to cover the left-back zone.

Sometimes, this resulted in Kuyt (green) being handed too much defensive responsibility. Here, he is forced extremely deep, and has to try and tackle Sergio Ramos inside the penalty area – his challenge was very weak.

Partly as a result of this, Kuyt (green) was much deeper than Arjen Robben (pink), the winger on the opposite side. Kuyt generally played on a ‘line’ close to the holding midfielders, whereas Robben was often the highest Dutch player up the pitch, pegging back Joan Capdevilla.

Spain knew how to deal with Robben when he got the ball in wide positions – get bodies around the ball, as he loves to cut in. They didn’t just double up, they often trebled up on him. Here, Robben is in possession on the flank. In the 15 yard x 15 yard area marked by the green dots, Spain have six players (marked in red), despite the fact that there are only three Dutch players in that zone. Robben generally ran into traffic in the first half.

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