Commentary: Fighting the winter
By Thomas Myren, 9 December 2007, 10:58
Rosenborg are on second place in the group before the last match day. Who had thought that after the draw in August? I guess noone.
We have already secured play in the UEFA Cup, which was our initial objective, so the showdown against Schalke is kind of a bonus for us. Hopefully the players too feel less pressure this time. Before the Chelsea match everyone in Norway talked about beating them like Valencia, even though a draw should have been the best we could hope for.
After the 0-4 loss everyone is back on the ground, and I think there is a more realistic approach to this match. Even though we are unbeaten away in this Champions League campaign, we know it will be very hard to get our precious point in Gelsenkirchen.
Compared to the two glorious wins against Valencia, Schalke are a much better organized team. Incredibly Rosenborg managed to surprise Valencia in the away match with our new 4-4-2 formation. We played the same way in the first match against them too, but they seemingly didn't expect us to attack them in Spain too.
The Chelsea match however showed that the players are not really used to play 4-4-2, and get in trouble when the opponent is well prepared and able to outplay us. Our midfield was slaughtered, and gave the defence big problems.
As said, Schalke are quite the same as Chelsea when it comes to clever organization. Therefore Rosenborg are considering going back to our classical 4-3-3 formation (UEFA.com lists us in front of Ajax as typical 4-3-3 club teams!). In European away matches this formation tends to be more like 4-5-1 because the wingers are more defensive. We know of course that a draw is good enough, and I guess my fellow RBK supporters agree that headless attacking play will be foolish.
We played the same way against Chelsea in London and I guess the gameplay somehow will be the same: The home team having the ball, trying to get to good goal attempts, while Rosenborg will be focusing on the counter attacks and set pieces.
The tactics worked well at Stamford Bridge, and our 0-1 lead at half time was quite fair. With a bit more skill and luck, we could have scored once more on our good attacks just after the break. Instead Shevchenko scored, and it was "power play" for Chelsea the rest of the match.
Our biggest challenge both on Tuesday and in the follow-up in February (either Champions League or UEFA Cup) is the fact that the Norwegian league ended 3 November. Rosenborg have played 18 matches in European cups in the period of December until March, and just won twice. Our last away point came in Athen ten years ago, when we should have won and go through to the quarter final. Instead Olympiakos scored on a bad freekick in the 87th minute, making Juventus in another group the next best runner up. One of the worst moments in the Rosenborg history!