Feyenoord close to Conf League finals

It has been a while since I was able to write about my favorite club Feyenoord. Oranje is our first topic always and the exploits in the top by our lads is what will be the next priority. Usually, Feyenoord is not very prolific in that domain.

After a successful spell under Gio van Bronckhorst (now semi finalist in the Europa League), Feyenoord slipped again with the likes of Jaap Stam and Dick Advocaat not able to restore more glory. Yes, Dickie didn’t do too badly, but the quality of the football wasn’t there. Dick is an old-school coach and Feyenoord played old-school football.

The arrival of Arne Slot (and Frank Arnesen) changed matters in Rotterdam. One of the first things Slot said to the Feyenoord board: “Do not sell Geertruida!”. The young right back is essential in Slot’s plans. He loves multi functional players and with Geertruida as right back and Malacia as left back, Feyenoord restored it’s identity and has two local boys as full backs (and a local boy in Bijlow as the goalie).

Slot introduced his style of football (and coaching) to the club and it has paid off big time. The friendly win over Atletico was seen as a fluke victory (Atleti took that game very serious) and an almost stumble against lowly Dritta almost ended Feyenoord’s campaign in Europe, but since that game (Til scoring the essential goal late in the second match) Feyenoord thunders through the Conference League with gusto.

An example of red-market Guendouzi who slots into right back while the right back is slightly visible in the bottom of the pic.

The first leg versus Olympique Marseille ended up an epic battle between two former European behemoths. So many similarities. The cities, both port cities. Both clubs have highly passionate and infamous “legions” of supporters and in both stadiums the atmosphere can be daunting on the best of days. Both clubs won European trophies in the past and both clubs have to make do with a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th spot in the domestic tables.

There are also differences. Olympique can be considered a somewhat older team with a seasoned coach in Sampoli, while Feyenoord can be seen as a young team, with an up and coming coach (in European terms) in Arne Slot.

The first leg ended in a 3-2 win for Feyenoord. How did they get so many opportunities? And how did they allow Marseille back into the game?

Arne Slot analysis. A tactical master class in four chapters.

Marseille Build Up was exactly how Feyenoord liked it

Olympique used right back Rongier and right mid Guendouzi as a tactical trick in the build up. They changed roles to confuse Feyenoord. The right back would push up to mid field and Guendouzi would drop into the defenders space to start the build up with dribbles or passes. This type of positional change makes it harder for the opponent to develop pressure. But as their midfield became quite wide, with Rongier hugging the line, it became easier for Feyenoord to block the passing lines and the intelligence of Kökçu and Malacia resulted in forceful forward press. Slot: “I pushed Kökçu further up field and in this way we were able to control Guendouzi.”

Smart interruption of the usual build-up passing lines of Olympique

This is a good example, in the 5th minute as Feyenoord’s press stops the OM build up. The only way out for the visitors was to play loopy balls to the wide areas, where Tyrell Malacia in particular was ready to be super tight on the receiving player, not giving the opponent time to think. In this example below, Guendouzi loses possession due to a bad take under pressure.

Slot: “In the second half, they changed it and played a more traditional way, with midfielders staying in midfield. We had more issues in pressuring them as a result.”

Geertruida didn’t do what Malacia did….

Geetruida played a fine match but in one instance he didn’t do what Malacia did so well on the left. The 2-2 was the result. Slot: “Here Geertruida decides not to press. And everything we have done so well before, we simply didn’t do in this situation and you see, immediately the opponent gets a chance. Geertruida should have pressed the player on the ball. Not give him time. Now he could dribble forward, look around, look around again and then find Payet free in midfield who had slipped away from Aursnes. When they find the pass towards Payet, anything can happen.”

Where is Geertruida?

This is the moment. Nelson, Dessers and Til are developing their forward press, but Geertruida is not present on the right, offering Gerson time and space.

Ah, there he is ….

What started as a slight omission in the execution of the tactics, ended up a goal for Olympique. This does speak to the tremendous qualities Marseille does have when offered the chance.

The Speedy Wingers of Marseille

The 2-1 was less a thorn in Slot’s side. “The 2-2 really was avoidable. The 2-1, well… A long ball, the second ball was theirs and then there was the explosive sprint in behind. Very hard to defend if it is executed well. We also got chances and goals in this exact manner. Sampoli used Payet as false striker and he was able to launch one of the runners. A good decision by the coach.”

Senesi has to make a snap fire decision. Press up and take the ball or drop back. The Argentinian skipper decide to push up and he missed the chance to intercept the ball. Dieng still had a lot to do and his powerful shot faded away from goalie Marciano, who may have been standing to much in the centre of the goal.

Dieng did get more chances, earlier in the game. Both situation should have been a warning sign for Feyenoord. In the 7th minute he escaped on a Payet through ball as he did in the 13th minute.

Marciano was able to stop the first attempt and Dieng missed the target on the second. Two warning shots at 0-0. Anytime Payet has the ball and the ability to look, the forwards bomb forward and Payet will usually deliver. Not unlike the Robben-Sneijder combination in 2014 Brazil.

Slot: “It was hard to play him, he was their #9 on paper but he goes where he wants and he is not easy to stop. I think we did really well in most situations in the first half, even though he had three great passes, one of which ended up a goal. I think he was even more dangerous in the second half.”

This is a good example, in the 74th minute, when Dieng again is able to escape Senesi. Payet spots it and passes the ball but this time it’s Marciano who is paying attention.

The 85th minute was a nice move from both teams. Marseille did what Feyenoord has done so well. The “running in behind” move (see next point). The forward, in this case Milik, drops to midfield, luring the defender (Senesi) with him. Only to suddenly turn and run in behind, expecting the ball to come.

In this situation, sub Hendrix is able to push OM sub Harit to the side. Harit’s pass is intercepted by Senesi, who immediately finds the pass to start a Feyenoord counter attack. And the open end-to-end game kept on going in this way, with a big chance for Jahanbaksh even, in the 91st minute to make it 4-2. His shot missed power.

The Running In Behind Trick

Slot: “We work hard on our depth. We want the forwards to use their speed and timing to get in behind. Both goals were the result of this. Marseille’s last line of defence always pushes up. Like ours does too. As a forward, you can easily be off side as a result. You need to drop back as forward, maybe even making a run diagonally back to your own half, only to turn and explosively launch yourself when that pass is coming. Today, we had a couple of really good moves this way, resulting in two goals.”

This below is Sinistera’s move for the first goal. He will start his run way on-side to garner speed and bamboozle the defence. When Senesi passes the ball, Sinistera is already on his bike while the defenders seem locked into place.

With the second goal, Arsenal loanie Reiss Nelson demonstrates it even better. Every move deep would have meant off side. So Nelson makes the run back, diagonally, and turns when he knows/feels/sees that Trauner is going to play that pass deep. When the ball reached Nelson, there was no opponent even close. He kept his calm and found Sinistera who scored with a touch of fortune. Slot: “Our movements surprised them, we were able to get through to them a couple of times in the first half before they could fix their problem. The timing of these moves is really important and the boys did really well.

Out of the pic, all the way up is the OM right back playing Nelson on

And he is off… the same recipe we will see next week in Marseille…

As said before, Jahanbaksh got himself into a similar situation late in the dying minutes but his attempt failed. Linssen wins the header, the second ball is pushed in behind by Sinistera and the Iran winger is already on the move to leave the defenders in suspended animation.

Jahanbaksh makes his run from an onside position

This last missed chance means Feyenoord will go to Marseille with a 3-2 win. What can Slot expect there?

Slot: “I need to analyse the game as I haven’t watched it back yet. I don’t know what will happen next week. Both Feyenoord and Marseille have several weapons, so to speak. With Sampoli, you never know what you get. But next week, we’ll know.”

What do you guys think? Will Feyenoord reach the finals?

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  1. Best of luck to Feyenoord. And if they really do getinto the finals , Arne Slot will be the only main reason behind.

    And if this happens, Erik Ten Hag will also share a bit of the spotlight to Arne Slot, who I count as the 2nd best Dutch Coach in this new generation.

    Meanwhile, great article about Danjuma. It’s all about Danjuma now. Is he one of the best wingers we currently have? Yes unfortunately we cannot count on Malen or Lang, when was the last time these two scored a goal? I’d been expecting Joshua Zirkzee to be in the squad soon also, but that will happen only after World cup i think.


  2. Feyenoord will and should reach the finals! Watched the game with Marseille and I am very impressed. Pressing football and good interchanges and movement. This is the second time I watched Feyenoord’s game. The first is the most recent eredivisie against Ajax. And they actually impressed me also.
    I liked Malacia. He kept Antony quiet. He is a pitbull, reminded me of Edgar Davids though at LB. Malacia will be huge player.

  3. Watched the first half and then little after fist half till the winning goal by Dessers. I actually read this article then went and watched the replay and hence was figuring along the way what Jan has written. Cannot 0 disagree. But I will still say they miss Toornstra. The midfield for me was exploited big time on counters by Marseille and if Dieng would have found the target on that two open misses, it would have been another story.

    Winning in marseille will be tough and maybe Slot will have to dig deep in this one.

    I liked malacia also. He was brilliant in that build up area linking with Sinistera and going forward. This is where I think he raises the bar over blind. His 1-2 and overlapping is brilliant. He hardly comes up with crosses but then he doesnt need to do so when its not required. Agree also he put in a good shift defensively as well.

    Lastly I would say I wish if NT had a midfielder like payet. He was such a threat when on the ball especially on the counters.

  4. Nathan Ake with another top notch performance vs Leeds. He has shown marked improvement in his form in recent weeks even being bench player.

    Nathan Ake – 8

    Another great performance at left-back, capped off when he bundled in the second goal with the game at a crucial junction.

  5. Kluivert- Boadu- Dilrosun/Stengs


    Van den Boomen- Matusiwa

    Bakker-Botman- Rosario- van bregen


    Ligue 1 contingent

    Inherited bakker.

    Van den Boomen plays for Toulouse in ligue 2 who all but look set to be crowned champions of ligue 2 and gain promotion to Ligue 1. Been keeping a close tabs on him. 12 goals and 21 assists this season. Intresting prospect. Still 26.


  6. Geetruida and Malacia got my eye long time back..Happy to see them noticed..Geetruida can play winger,LB,RB,RCB,LCB and insane talent….lacks concentration at times though..(however it is coachable/Teachable)…Malacia is pitbull and Eric ten haag is fan of him…that says a lot…
    Feynoord playres has immense work rate..thats wat made them here…they waste chances but they create tons of chances..thats how they survive..Work rate is key in tight matches this is where Danjuma Su@@#ks…it affects team..His tap in period with villareal will soon be over…while Malen is played out of his natrutal poistion adn Lang plays in brugge…Danjuma is lucky to work with unai emry who developed a well oiled villa real team…with great defense structure..
    Malen could be livewire substitue in matches whiel lang offers work rate..

  7. It is a mediocre competition with third grade teams. I really hope Feyenoord wins it but I do not like their game and they were lucky to score 3 goals which were a result of some tragic defending by OM. I love the stadium and their loyal fans which remind me so much of the atmosphere of the 80’s European stadiums. Honestly I don’t know any of their players except Til and Malacia and I am not sure how many are dutch and how many are imports but regardless I think OM will will eliminate them. I hope I am proven wrong. This team is TOO FAR from the one of Van Hooijdonk that won their last UEFA cup years ago in a dramatic fashion. Best of luck.
    And by the way, I believe Feyenoord has a richer european trophy count and history than OM.

  8. Thanks all, yes exciting times in Rotterdam. The last four clubs in the competition are all good level clubs, I would say (for Feyenoord). I can’t see Feyenoord win vs Bayern or Real or Juve, but Roma, Leicester, that level is great for a club like Feyenoord or AZ.

    Norwegian midfielder Aursners is a great player too. Geertruida is the first name Slot will put on the team sheet these days. Great player. They are vulnerable though.

    Senesi will be on scouting lists. Malacia too. Kokcu. Dessers and Til are on loan. Sinistera is making headlines and Linssen is on his way to Japan.

    Feyenoord could in theory be without these players and that will mean another implosion, I fear.

  9. @orangutan

    “Bro you can refer to us by whatever name that tickles your fancy but it is still not going to fundamentally change how broken Dutch management is.”

    Sorry mate, I do hope you saw the smiley too, when I wrote this. It was in jest of course. Apologies for the late reponse, it’s been hectic in my life recently.

    I get your criticism (of course) and I do not have the answers to the pointy questions.

    I do have an idea of what is going on.

    A coach like Van Gaal has very distinct opinions about football and tactics. He will have his reasons to use Danny Blind (his friend, confident and eternal assistant) all the time. Bert van Marwijk has someone he used to bring in always, as do other coaches (from Pep to Klopp to Simeone). And it’s not always clear why.

    Dick Advocaat made Cor Pot a millionaire. The former Sparta player is known to be a lazy and not so sharp assistant coach. His good looks and skirt chasing gave him the nick name “handsome Cor” and there is only one reason Dick always took him along to his jobs outside of Holland: he likes Cor. They are friends. “I don’t want to sit alone in a hotel room all by myself”. Cor would definitely work on the training field and analyse teams but he is at best a mediocre assistant. But to Dick, he is all. And at Zenith, Cor also took home a million euros per season.

    I think the situation between Louis van Danny is similar. Louis has many enemies. Mostly in the media. He needs a guy he can trust. Danny is that guy. And make no mistake, Danny is considered a good coach by most players he worked with and he is considered a great talent scout. Not by me. In general. People like Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Robben speak highly of the man.

    Louis is a bit too much focused on “Dutch competition” players. Why is that? I think an old adage that only in Holland we know how to play the Dutch way. It’s BS of course. I agree.

    Do I think Berghuis is Oranje material? It depends on his form, the opponent and the alternatives. Which Oranje player is #10 material? The playmaker 10, not the box to box 10.

    We have Til, Wijnaldum who can play the box to box role.

    We have Memphis, Lang, Gakpo who can play the shadow striker 10, but we don’t have a Sneijder #10. The man with the eye of the needle pass. Berghuis comes closest.

    Until Ihattaren is ready.

    Daley Blind. I still think he should be part of the squad. He can play left back, left CB and holding mid. I do concede that this will be his last tournament, most likely.

    There are now better options for all his positions. Malacia is the better LB. Ake is the better Left CB. And Koopmeiners, Gravenberch are the better holding mids next to Frenkie.

  10. @Jan

    Re:Sorry mate, I do hope you saw the smiley too, when I wrote this. It was in jest of course.

    No offense ever taken bro. I believe you analyse things best as you see them. Hope you find time for yourself.

  11. Best of luck to Feyenoord tomorrow.. i have some family who are feyenoord supporters; guess nobody is perfect hehe

    i do think its kinda difficult to watch a game like that after 2 days of watching champions league..makes it look a bit like womens football

    cant believe the Real Man c game i just watched..amazing stuff

    1. Haha I’m the same. My whole family for generations have been massive Ajax fans, but I’m cheering for Feyenoord to win the whole thing, strictly because it’s good for the coefficient!

      I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think this is how it works. Right now our European spots look like this:
      1. Ajax – CL Group Stage
      2. PSV – CL 3rd Round Qualifying
      3. Feyenoord – EL Playoff
      4. Twente – ECL 3rd Round Qualifying
      5. Playoff-Winner – ECL Qualifying

      But if Feyenoord wins the ECL they get a direct spot in the EL, which means Twente will get bumped up the the EL Playoff, AZ will bump up to the ECL 3rd Round Qualifying, and teams 6-9 will battle it out for the last ECL spot. All good things.

  12. Big draw for Feyenoord, showed some real grit defensively, a bit haphazard offensively.

    I think Roma will be a bit of a different battle, but it’s a final so who know what will happen.

  13. If Feyenoord can win it, then the gap between Holland and France (next season) will be about 1.0 coefficient point, and they have two points extra to defend next year. So potentially by the end of 2022-23 Holland could be rated as the 5th best league in the world.

  14. Louis needs to have an assistant “of colour” even though this is never said out loud. We had Kluivert, Gullit, Fraser and now Davids. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I expect him to be closer to the players than Fraser was. The latter is pushing 60 and a no nonsense head coach in his own right. Not known to fraternise too much.

  15. Great result for Feyenoord. Overall good for Dutch football, good for the players’ values, and confidence. AS Roma is a good opponent to have I think. I prefer playing them over Leicester. I think Feyenoord can play Roma in a way the Romans haven’t had to experience too much. I think only Atalanta plays the same. Whereas in the EPL, every team plays 120 mph for 90 minutes.

  16. A good season for Dutch football I feel. The teams which our Dutch players are in are all doing well in their leagues and competition. If this continues, it should set us up nice for the WC in Nov.
    On a separate topic, I will really like FDJ to leave Barcelona. Don’t think Xavi can develop him well. In fact, Barcelona ain’t convincing in their play at all, even against mediocre teams.

  17. Ive being hearing alot about Frenkie and negativity on xavi not utilizing him properly. I dont blame xavi for what he wants or whether frenkie suits the way he wants barce to play. There has being many casualties when Dutch coaches have taken over at club level simply because they dont fit in the style they bring and wanna deploy. It the Same scenario but turn it around. Frenkie is one positional player to where he thrives the most as what we have seen in the NT. Point forward and on that left. You have to remember barce doesnt deploy this and its predominately point back wards with Busquets as holding mid. Even koeman tried to bring the NT style to Barcelona with frenkie (L) and Busquets (R) in point forward but he quickly released it was not working. He had to shift frenkie to the right and accommodate busquets and pedri. Now with Gavi in the picture as well its all about competition and like I always say, this is where its get real. But on the other xavi has been rotating the squad. In NT frenkie maybe undisputed because there is no better option than him but at barce thats certainly not the case. Then you have to look at indivudual game of a player on a certain day, and this is where back up players come in as super sub. It can be either way frenkie of the bench or any one else in the case replacing frenkie. This is how it works and I think this is how Xavi is building the team.

    Also If frenkie goes to any other team, again his success will depend on where he plays or the tatic being deploy by the coaches. Certainly they wont build the team around him like in NT. He will have to adpat to different formation.

    1. @ Jan

      “Do I think Berghuis is Oranje material? It depends on his form, the opponent and the alternatives. Which Oranje player is #10 material? The playmaker 10, not the box to box 10.”

      I would say Tony Vilhena. Any time any day, is way better than than Berghuis at 10 in terms of his over all qualities. Again underrated, club status and will have to come back to eredivise like others we have seen to get the nod.

      1. Vilhena doesn’t have the passing / vision skills that the likes of Berghuis, Ihattaren, Sneijder etc have. I love him, don’t get me wrong but he’s not a #10

    2. I dont agree? I also don’t think Frenkie and Busquests play both in a forward midfield role together.

      I also don’t think Frenkie is the man in a midfield with one holding mid and Frenkie being one of the box to box midfielders.

      Frenkie is a 6. And performs best with the double 6 as he did next to Schone and recently next to Koopmeiners.

      We can’t compare Oranje with Barca

  18. There are two problems with FDJ:
    1/ He joined Barca at the wrong time. He has been using in all different positions in midfield so far by different coaches and that did not help with his development.
    2/ His return G+A is really low given the space he has. This area of his game does not improve much since his Ajax time. His passing in small space and shooting need improvement. He might be more suited for DM as his ball progression is good but since no coach dare to move Busquet, it was not tried out before.

    Having said that, Xavi prefer using Spanish players and FDJ should move on. There is no reason why he got subbed at 60 minutes every single game where Gavi can continue. Same for Ferran Torres got so much playing time over Depay where his G+A return is so slow compared to Depay.

  19. I am so excited for Feyenoord. I hope they can win it. This is such a long time that we have another Dutch club in the final. Also, Gio is doing very good job at Rangers.

  20. Ajax got a lucky break this weekend. After dropping points to AZ, it looked like PSV were going to close the gap until Cyril Dessers scored a penalty at the death, which was very controversial.

    Ajax has Heerenveen and Vitesse left with a very injured squad, which could have been tricky, whereas PSV have NEC and PEC Zwolle which is pretty straight forward. Ajax now only need 2 points to secure the title, which they should be able to do.

      1. Marco van Basten is one of the people who claim it was a pen. The arm blocked an attempt on goal. The slomo shows the ball would have gone in. Whether it was intent or not, doesn’t matter.

  21. depay started at No 10 for Barcelona vs celta vigo behind Aubameyang and worked out wonders for xavi. I like what Xavi has done and is doing with this barce team. in another season or so they will be back to where they were. this is really what you want to see, and the reason why I have lost faith in koeman. the difference is very clear.

  22. st juste confirmed on his way to Sporting Lisbon and will feature in champions league. good for him. another underrated player but I guess NT is stacked with good CBS

  23. For context, if Real Madrid wins the CL this year, Ajax will end up in Pot 1 for next year’s Champions League as the Top finisher from the 7th best league. If Liverpool win, then they will get the Pot 1 spot as the CL holders, and Ajax will likely end up in Pot 2 (which isn’t necessarily worse).

    In other news, the Eredivisie Promotion/Relegation playoffs began. It’s crazy to see how poorly Excelsior finished the season, picking up something like 2 points from their last 6 games. FC Eindhoven and Joey Sleegers look very good coming into the playoffs, but I think it’s fairly wide open who gets the Eredivisie spot.

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