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Europa League performance insights: Roma's pressing pays off

UEFA's analysis unit takes a closer look at how Roma and Feyenoord pressed, and how effective it proved.

Paulo Dybala drives Roma forward during their second leg against Feyenoord
Paulo Dybala drives Roma forward during their second leg against Feyenoord AS Roma via Getty Images

The importance of pressing in the elite European game needs no reiterating yet it is worth asserting that different teams do it in different ways – as witnessed in last week's Roma v Feyenoord knockout round play-off tie in the UEFA Europa League.

To build on their initial post-match study the UEFA analysis unit looked at the pressing game of the two teams – and found that Feyenoord applied more pressure, with one regain pivotal to their goal in this closely-contested second leg.

That said, as the data below shows, Roma – the eventual winners on penalties – were actually more efficient with their pressing and also showed the ability to break the press and play through Feyenoord.

Defending shape

Across the 120 minutes, Feyenoord recorded a greater number of pressures in the opposition half, with 84 to Roma's 65. As the pie chart displays, they pressed more both in a high block (48) and in a mid block (36). From Roma, meanwhile, there was much more pressing in a high block than mid – indeed, 66% of their presses came in that shape.

As the video below shows, Feyenoord earned reward for their pressing work with their early goal, scored after they pressed in a high block and won the ball back in Roma's half through Mats Wieffer. The midfielder ended the match with the joint-most recoveries (ten) along with Roma's Leandro Paredes. With two other Feyenoord players, Lutsharel Geertruida and Thomas Beelen, not far behind with nine each, this meant there were three players from the Rotterdam team in the top ten for recoveries in the week's UEFA Europa League matches.

UEL - Tactical Performance Insight - MD8 - Defending Shape

Passes prior to first press

The chart above offers a breakdown of how many passes the teams allowed the opposition before pressing. As the first category (0-2 passes) shows, both sides looked to apply pressure as quickly as possible at the Stadio Olimpico and in Romas case, the fact 55 of their 65 presses (85%) were of this kind shows that they either pressed quickly or dropped back into a compact defensive shape.

For their part, Feyenoord recorded more presses than Roma in every category which highlights that they wanted to press more overall.

Types of pressure

This chart compares the way the two sides pressed and the most obvious point to make is that both looked to counter-press, recording 30 each. Indeed, for Roma a significant slice of their presses (46%) were counter-presses (36% in Feyenoord's case).

As for Arne Slot's visitors, their higher numbers in other metrics underline their desire to press when Roma had organised possession – with the chart showing 20 presses as a group (two to four players) and 24 as a team (five or more, or in a high block shape). The video below offers an example of counter-pressures from each side.

UEL - Tactical Performance Insight - MD8 - Counter-press

Pressing outcomes

The focus here is on the outcome of the teams' pressing efforts. It shows that both recorded the same number of regains (31) and this means that Roma were actually more efficient in their efforts given that, while pressing less, they had just as much success. The 'Regain OP' metric applies to winning the ball in the opposition half and Roma, like Feyenoord, managed 13 regains of this kind.

Perhaps the most striking point to draw from this chart is Roma's success in evading the press, evidenced by their higher number of progressions to the opposition half – 22 to Feyenoord's nine. Overall, Daniele De Rossi's men progressed beyond Feyenoord's press 28 times, compared to 15 times from the visitors.

UEFA's analysis unit have already highlighted Roma's overloads in the wide areas in this Swissquote match analysis article and piece, this final video below offers two follow-up examples of progressions from the Serie A side which led to dangerous moments in the final third.

UEL - Tactical Performance Insight - MD8 - Outcome

Supporting Player Development

"These performance insight articles aim to provide clubs and national associations with granular data linked to video, which can be tailored towards a deeper understanding of individual and team performance from our senior club and national team competitions. By looking deeply into certain trends, UEFA can be in position to offer knowledge about actionable trends which will help support player development across the European landscape and beyond."
UEFA's Head of Technical Education & Development, Olivier Doglia

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