This year’s first semi-final of the KNVB Beker came between the teams who are currently second and third in the Eredivisie. The current holders of the competition Feyenoord hosted the competition’s most successful team with 18 titles to their name: Ajax. The visitors were favourites going into the tie as they are 13 points clear in the league of their counterparts but Giovanni van Bronckhorst was looking to cause a shock. Find out what developed in this tactical analysis.
Both managers named strong line-ups for this cup tie. Erik ten Hag named Golden Boy winner Matthijs de Ligt alongside Daley Blind at centre-back. New Barcelona signing Frenkie de Jong also started in midfield with David Neres and Hakim Ziyech on the wings. Van Bronckhorst also named a strong side with Jordy Clasie and Tonny Vilhena starting in midfield with veteran Robin van Persie leading the line.
How did the sides set up?
From the start, Ajax played with a high press. What was interesting with the Ajax press was that they decided to mark man for man even when the ball was behind them, which you can see in the below image. This has an advantage as Feyenoord had fewer passing options available to play. This led to Feyenoord often having to play long balls to clear possession. Therefore, Ajax won back possession a lot more easily.
To read the full analysis, click here.