Why is Orange obligated to win by big numbers?

It’s the last team match day for the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, North Macedonia already removed is the opponent. These are the reasons why Orange should dance to Goran Pandev and his followers.

Written by Everett Van Zoolen

The distances between them are vast
North Macedonia will start the first two matches of the group with a 5-3-2 formation. The team collapses to just over the halfway line, and the two attackers are forced to keep the center close. If the ball is played to the side, the midfielders come out to press.

Macedonia’s problem: the spaces are often too big, because the front line goes a lot forward and the back line goes back rather than forward. This only gets worse when the midfielder is out. The distance the midfielder has to go is too much to hit the ball, while the area the midfielder moves away from becomes open.


The right midfielder comes out to press the side, while the distance between him and the midfielder is about 25 meters.

Since the alternating distances were incorrect, it was very easy for rivals Austria and Ukraine to create a surplus around the ball and find the free player from there.

This shouldn’t be a problem for Orange either. When midfielders Enis Bardi and Ariane Adami step in to pressure Stefan de Vrij or Dale Blind, large spaces open up in midfield for Frenkie de Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum. If Patrick van Anholt and Denzel Dumfries pick a good position as a link player in those moments, the Netherlands should be able to play under the pressure of North Macedonia.

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The right midfielder steps forward to press, but this opens the area behind him. In Orange, for example, Frenkie de Jong can be launched into that space.

In the match against Ukraine, North Macedonia switched to a 4-2-3-1 method after 2-0, which means that the team is in a slightly better position. However, even in this configuration, the mutual distances are too large to offer real resistance.


Also from 4-2-3-1 / 4-1-4-1 the mutual distances in the midfield are very large.

Traffic lines are not removed properly
When defending as a team of zones, it is important that one of the players press the ball and put pressure on the players next to him. This ensures that the player who hits the ball presses the ball and can protect the space behind him. If this is not done correctly, the opponent can use the open space immediately. As a result, the defense of the territories has the opposite effect.

In addition to the fact that the mutual distances in North Macedonia are often incorrect, players often do not come out correctly to press the ball. We can break this down into three scenarios.

First, it often happens that the wrong player goes out to press the ball. Lawsmith Bardhi, in particular, tends to do so.


Bardy walked out, opening the area behind him. Ideally, the central midfielder would press the ball because he has a back on both sides to cover the space behind him.

Second, traffic lines are sometimes not covered at all. We see this especially in the North Macedonia attackers.

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Pandev failed to cover the defensive midfielder’s pass line, allowing Austria to play easily under pressure.

Third, sometimes the right player gets out at the right time, but the player next to him does not provide proper support, allowing the ball to pass between players.


Macedonia has pressing the ball, but the left middle does not press to support the pressing player. This allows the Ukraine central defender to reach the midfielder between the lines.

For players like Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay, this is ideal for introducing themselves into the space between the lines. If the traffic lines are not removed correctly, they can always be turned on. In addition, with Mathijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij, Daley Blind and Frenkie de Jong, the Orange team has enough players who can easily pass such a pass between the lines.

individual errors
Finally, the defenders of Macedonia make many individual mistakes. We highlight two.

The first common mistake in the back of Macedonia is the defense of crosses. Defenders do not pay attention to the direct opponents entering the sixteen, but mainly look at the ball. This is also combined with the incorrect positioning of some defenders, which makes it difficult for them to run backwards if the ball falls behind them.

Austria in particular benefited from this with two goals from a cross. A right-footed player who enters from the left flank and shoots the ball into the far corner can create a significant danger. So it’s important for Memphis to often look for those spaces and put the ball in the face of upcoming player Donyell Malen, who will play in place of Wout Weghorst, Denzel Dumfries and Wijnaldum.

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Cross from the left: North Macedonia defenders mainly look at the ball, leaving three players in the penalty area.

The second individual error is the position of left defender Ezjan Alyosky. The Leeds United player is one of North Macedonia’s best players on the ball, but he tends to move defensively very early on. Especially in the match against Austria which is also playing 3-5-2, this causes problems. Alewocki covered several times very early on with the Austrian full-back, widening the gap between him and defender Vissar Musliu. So: Dumfries has to pull Alewski from his position, so that space is created for Malin and Wijnaldum.


Alewicki often clings to the full-back, which makes the distance between him and the central defender very large and allows the Austrian midfielder to run exposed.

Evert van Zoolen is an analyst for YouTube channel TheNextManager, has written for tactical websites and magazines such as Spielverlagerung, TrainersMagazine and Futbol Netradince and watches important matches for VoetbalPrimeur.

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