OPINIONS Anderlecht opened the season with six out of six and nine goals in two games. Purple-white is remarkably productive. Hein Vanhaezebrouck started both games with the same strategy. The plan-Gerkens.
Plan A: Pieter Gerkens
July 28. An hour before the kickoff against Kortrijk, the line-up became known. A visitor on this site wrote what had been haunting my head for a while. 'No player with an action in the starting eleven?'
Because Vanhaezebrouck did what no one would have thought of before the friendly game against Ajax: he put Dimata and Santini together in the attack. He also chose a duo at his previous clubs. For example, he linked Raman to Santini at Kortrijk and Simon to Depoitre at Ghent.
But with Bakkali, Musona, Adzic and Abazaj, Anderlecht got four boys who prefer to play on the wing and Amuzu showed last year also very nice things. Hein would play 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1.
But 3-4-1-2 with Dimata-Santini together in the attack? The loanee of Wolfsburg is pretty fast and agile, but on paper it does not seem the most complementary duo. Or maybe I have a too romanticized image of striker duos with Koller - Radzinski and Mitrovic - Suarez in mind. Without wanting to put both duos on the same level, of course.
I had forgotten that Hein also dared to play with Deproitre - Pollet in the past. And achieved results with it. Romance is nothing for the him.
3-4-1-2. Two controlling midfielders. Two wingers that are naturally flank defenders. Two strikers. And Gerkens. You would wonder how you create opportunities in this way. Nevertheless, Anderlecht scored nine times already. Six of them with Gerkens in the team.
The strategy was as simplistic as it is effective. Raise Saelemaekers and Cobbaut as high as possible and let Gerkens go to the right to create a preponderance. Get the ball on the right. Drop a cross between the small back line and the penalty point, where the trio Dimata (1m85) - Santini (1m90) - Cobbaut (1m88) is waiting.
Kortrijk - Anderlecht: 0-1: Saelemakers passes to Gerkens on the right wing, who kicks a cross, Santini heads in.
Kortrijk - Anderlecht: 0-2: Bornauw gives a crosspass towards Saelemaekers on the right, he brings the ball, Dimata heads in.
Kortrijk - Anderlecht: 0-3: Saelemaekers kicks a cross from the right, Dimata works the ball with luck to Santini, who scores.
Anderlecht - Ostend: 1-0: Dimata gives it backwards to Saelemaekers on the right, who brings the ball. Cobbaut heads diagonally, Santini nods him in.
The two other goals with Gerkens in the team? Heavy mistakes in the defense of the other team. We have actually decided two games with one weapon. But what if a defensive master tactic like Felice Mazzu succeeds in restricting Saelemaekers?
Plan B: Knowledge Musona
Musona was allowed to come and replace Gerkens against Ostend fifteen minutes before time. The Zimbabwean got a penalty for the 3-1 and recovered the ball to play with Santini who took care of the 4-1. Anderlecht also scored a fifth time.
On the social media and our site the supporters were sharp for Gerkens and praising Musona. Because Pieter is a runner, with a solid cross. No number ten with an action.
Bob Peeters said in Sports Late Night: "When Hein was still at Ghent, I often thought that we had the game under control against them. But in the last half hour we went through it physically because they put so much pressure. "
Gerkens is an important link in the Vanhaezebrouck system. The strong substitution of Musona was made possible in part by his hard work.
But it is clear that Anderlecht will play differently with Musona at the position of Gerkens. In a 3-4-1-2 Morioka (with his qualities and flaws) is a more creative option for Gerkens if he does not succeed with the crosses.
Plan C: A pocket peak
Nevertheless, we think that Gerkens will continue to start this season. Call it 3-4-2-1, 3-4-1-1-1 or 3-5-2. In practice, that does not have to make too much difference. If you sacrifice one 'real' deep striker, you can also play with Gerkens and a creative pawn.
The figures of Santini and Dimata are formidable at the moment, but there are suspensions, injuries, form dips and - hopefully - more than fifty games this season.
Thelin, Teodorczyk and Ganvoula had to leave or must leave. Dauda is the only real striker that is currently not in the starting eleven. Anderlecht got Bakkali, Musona, Adzic and Abazaj and is still linked to Musonda and Markovic.
The crosses are a huge weapon and the creative players are / were simply not ready. Hein has done it tactically perfectly. But in the coming weeks he will bet on more horses.
With Musona or even rather - a fit Bakkali - next to one deep striker, Anderlecht will be much less predictable and will play better football. Nobody complains after a 5-2 victory, but watch the reactions on the social media during the break of Anderlecht - KVO and you know that the fans will complain about this tactic when there are no loads of goals.
Personally, I can not wait to see the next team at the kick-off:
Didillon - Milic, Bornauw, Vranjes - Makarenko, Trebel - Cobbaut, Saelemaekers - Gerkens - Bakkali & Dimata
Football power in the back (Didillon & Bornauw), two central midfielders with enormous offensive and defensive qualities. Wings with running skills, one with the length and one with a huge technique and cross. Speed and strength in the front.
Again we forget to mention Gerkens here. Often invisible, but always useful. The pawn that lets the rest play better. But also the boy who goes to the side when there needs to be scored. With Najar, Saief, Kums, Musona & Santini there is still a lot of offensive power on the bench in this case.
Then we are not talking about Teodorczyk, an extra offensive pawn that will come this month, Amuzu, Lokonga, Kayembe or Dauda. Adzic or Abazaj, who might have their nose out the window during the course of the season.
The season has started fantastic, we look forward to the sequel. Charleroi - Anderlecht. Sunday at 6 pm.