Tactical Insights – The Feyenoord 4-2-3-1

Arne Slot has impressed everyone since taking over at Feyenoord, he has now guided them to the Europa Conference League final where they will take on Jose Mourinho’s Roma. This blog will look at how Slot has revitalised the Dutch giants and show how you can replicate his formation within Football Manager (if you wish of course).

Slot primarily uses a 4-2-3-1 formation, this is an incredibly common formation in football, favoured by managers as it allows for a great attacking outlet via the wingers and full backs. The formation offers a double pivot in defensive or central midfield which provides defensive stability to prevent opponents counter attacking successfully. The former AZ manager likes his team to attack left hand side, this is supported by the fact that Luis Sinisterra leads both the goal scoring and assist charts for the club this season with 25 goals and 13 assists thus far.

This tactic can be replicated in FM as seen below:

The back four is relatively standard, Ball Playing Defenders are embedded in Dutch football and it is no different here. Senesi has garnered much praise recently for his composure and calmness when in possession. The right Wing Back is on the supportive duty as looking at Geertruida’s heat map, he doesn’t often venture into the final third of the pitch. Whereas Malacia frequently pushes up as there is space created by Sinisterra who is often used as an Inside Forward.

Moving into the midfield pivot, Orkun Kökçü occupies the Regista role, his is a creative outlet for his team and is given a certain amount of freedom by Slot to wander the pitch. The Feyenoord academy graduate has 9 goals and 9 assists so far this season and links up incredibly well with Sinisterra on the left. His attributes so good passing, off the ball movement and vision, the Regista role allows him more freedom than a Playmaker which I initially considered when creating this tactic. He is joined by a DM on support, this is usually Aursnes who mostly sits in the middle of the pitch to counter the freedom given to his midfield partner. However Aursnes will push up and provide a passing option when his team are attacking and to ensure there are no spaces left for opponents to win the ball back in the middle of the pitch.

Aursnes Heat Map

Orkun Kökçü FM Profile

In attack, Reiss Nelson is used as a winger, he uses his pace to drive to the byline and possess a good crossing ability which has helped him provide 7 assists for his team so far this season. Next up, in the Shadow Striker role we have Guus Til, the 24 year old is second the the club’s goalscoring charts with 22 goals this season. On the left, the key man, Luis Sinisterra, Feyenoord’s way of playing is built around the Colombian and utilising his skillset in the best way possible. He is playing as an Inside Forward as he likes to cut inside onto his favoured right foot, incredibly talented with the ball at his feet having completed 194 successful dribbles so far this campaign, he is often used as a ball carrier for the team to transition from defence to attack. Finally, up front we have a Pressing Forward, in recent games it has been Dessers, he will drop deeper which is what creates the spaces for the Shadow Striker and Inside Forward to push higher up.

In Possession:

Slot likes his team to use the width to stretch the play however the they don’t venture too wide otherwise the opponents will be able to play through the lines quickly. Play out of defence, of course, this is Dutch football after all! As mentioned previously the play is mostly focused down the left side to take advantage of the attacking capabilities of Malacia and Sinisterra. While the typical ‘Dutch way’ of playing is to have a pass first mentality, Feyenoord have some very talented dribblers and Arne Slot does encourage them to run at the defenders, especially with the pace of Nelson and the frequently mentioned Sinisterra.

In Transition:

The Rotterdam club are very effective at counter pressing, not because they necessarily use a very high press but because they are all incredibly hard working players. If you were going to describe the Feyenoord DNA, work rate would be a key attribute to consider. This is proven by the fact that Luis Sinisterra and Gernot Trauner have complete the same amount of successful tackles in their thirds of the pitch (Sinisterra has 363 successful attacking tackles while Trauner has 363 successful defensive tackles). When possession has been regained, they don’t hang about and like to use the pace of their forward line to launch a counterattack, this has proven to be very effective as Feyenoord has had 83 shots on target from counter attacks this season which as resulted in 35 goals (as seen below). It is also worth noting that the players are fond of shooting from distance as 32% of their shots this season have been from zone 14 while a further 30% have been from further out.

Out Of Possession:

Arne Slot doesn’t ask his team to press extremely high, it is much more considered. Defensive stability is very much at the core of this team, which enables them to express themselves going forward. Though they do occasionally push up higher in the second half of games which is something to possibly use in game. For the most part though, it is a standard line of engagement, as shown below, and a standard defensive line to ensure that vast spaces are not left between the lines. Feyenoord do press slightly more often and do like to mark their opponents tightly, it is this that allows them to be proactive defensively and intercept the ball (Senesi and Trauner with over 300 interceptions each) rather than reactive and being forced into tackles.

So there you have it, Arne Slot’s Feyenoord in Football Manager! Thank you for reading and I look forward to writing up more tactical insights in the future.

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