Tactical Insights – Alfred Schreuder

Alfred Schreuder – Background: 

(Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Alfred is a Dutch citizen who spent all of his playing career in the Netherlands before he got onto the coaching ladder. Here is a brief breakdown of his career in management from 2009 to the present: 

  • Vitesse – Assistant Manager 
  • Twente FC – Assistant Manager 
  • Twente FC – Caretaker Manager 
  • Twente FC – Manager 
  • TSG Hoffenheim – Assistant Manager 
  • Ajax – Assistant Manager 
  • TSG Hoffenheim – Manager 
  • Barcelona – Assistant Manager 
  • Club Brugge –  Manager 

Alfred has worked under some truly exceptional managers in his time as an assistant coach, such as Nagelsmann, Ten Hag, & Koeman. At present, he is at Club Brugge in a very competitive Belgian League which he has also taken to the Champions League group stages. The group included Man City, PSG, & Leipzig where they somehow managed to gain a massive 4 points, which was considered a great return for the teams involved.  

Today, we will be breaking down some of the more tactical details for this season, which the dutchman has been working on for this Belgian side (Club Brugge). 

(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Formation: 
To begin with, we will now delve into how Alfred’s team at Club Brugge is set up by firstly reviewing their formation.  

Schreuder has mixed his tactics in the season, but he mainly uses the above 3-5-2, especially in the league.  

It’s not only this information that’s applicable here; in addition, player positions are rotated for most of the season. A few examples include: 

  • Charles De Ketelaere – His primary position is in the centre of the park; however, he is also known to play up top, which has seen this young talent bag 14 goals so far this season, making him the top scorer for Club Brugge. Linking up with target man Bas Dost seems to be working out well so far! 
  • Noa Lang – Noa started as a fullback, then pushed up the field as a winger. At Brugge, he has either played as a wingback or even as a striker. With Lang’s pace to get in behind, this seems to cause the opposition the team play several problems, mainly on the counterattack. To back this up, Lang has scored seven goals so far this season.  

Key Style Of Play Principals: 

  • Playing out from the back 
  • Short passing, high tempo 
  • Pressing and man-marking in most situations 
  • Using a target forward who can hold up the ball and get others to run in behind 

Tactical Analysis: 

Here is an in-detail analysis of how Alfred’s team operates, which makes for a very interesting read.  

The above is an example of how Schreuder’s teams like to build up from the back. As we can see, the wingbacks typically go as wide as the touchline, which is so the phase of play can start in the middle and take some of the opposition players out of the middle spaces. The two outside centre-halves spread out to occupy the wide spaces and start a pattern of play.  

 The CDM drops in and is either an option for a pass or takes the opposition player with him, allowing one of the centre-backs to make a pass out wide if they so wanted. Meanwhile, the other 2 CMs push up a bit further to make the opposition players with them again.  

Finally, one of the frontmen comes in deep and plays as a false 9 at times, allowing the other striker to be ready to make the run behind when it’s required. 

In terms of the phase of play, Alfred encourages a quick and intense build-up play which includes a lot of off-the-ball work to create a breakthrough on goal.  

Meanwhile, outside of the general phase of play from the back, Club Brugge under Alfred enjoys a “gegenpressing” system and likes to counter quickly. The team’s setup allows this to be effective thanks to their fluid off-the-ball work and the positionings across the pitch.  

At this point, we should now take a quick look at how the pressing system paid off well against their game with PSG in the Champions League. 

Tactical Analysis (Club Brugge VS PSG) 

Key: 

  • PSG – White Circle 
  • Club Brugge – Blue Circle 

The above replicates the 13th minute (approx.) from where PSG was playing out from the keeper. As we can see, the PSG centre-halves are close to the keeper, which appears to allow a short pass to start the game again. The 3 centre-midfield players of PSG create a deep corridor, allowing the front three typically (Neymar/Messi/Mbappe) to make movements behind and start an attack. Finally, the 2 fullbacks sit wide in an attempt to let the keeper play out from the back. 

Club Brugge marks their opposition closely, implementing off-the-ball player rotations. The player rotations were mainly due to how PSG started their build-up play. As per below, we can see another view of where Club Brugge, through marking and pressing, forces PSG into the middle where they then fall into a trap. 

As we can see, the ball is being played in the middle. As soon as this happens, we can already see the three players (Brugge) crowding the middle space, which will make it difficult for PSG to get out of and move forward for the next pass.  

This time, we will see how Club Brugge looked to exploit PSG and hit them on the break. 

This time, we can see Club Brugge playing out from the back. PSG is set up in 2 sets of triangles; the front three, followed by the midfield three, who sit rather narrow. The Brugge middle three are also kept narrow, which would release the fullbacks since we can see they have a lot of free space out there. As soon as one of the centre-halves has the ball, they quickly transition via the fullbacks and counter or make a pass in the middle, which is then followed by a fast pass out wide to start the counter

Club Brugge took full advantage of the fact that they knew PSG’s front three (Neymar/Messi/Mbappe) would not be running back to pick up players, so it seems fair to say that they took a lot of joy from the game while doing this. 

If Alfred Was At Ajax This Summer: 

With Ten Hag’s departure to Man Utd in the summer, a shortlist is already being compiled for his replacement. A few names have been thrown around, but the current Club Brugge manager someone who looks to be the early favourite to take over. As such, let’s have a quick look at how Ajax could potentially set up the team for the next season should this move happen with the current Club players. 

It looks as though the Dutchman’s preferred 3-5-2 strategy may work at Ajax. All the players are suited to the roles, and Haller & Anthony could make a strong partnership up top. Anthony may have to adjust his game from playing primarily out wide to a more narrow playing style, but Haller is someone who can play the Target Man role and release Anthony with his pace.  

For all of Alfred’s good work at Club Brugge, this could be a great opportunity for him to get his name on the map even more. Working with the likes of Ten Haag in the past may make him a further favorite for the job at Ajax compared to anyone else out there at present. 

(Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images)

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