Odds Ballklubb went to Trondheim to face Rosenborg for the second place and a chance to increase their likelihood of earning European qualification in last Sunday’s evening kick-off. The two teams were on equal footing before the match, points-wise, with just 10 games left to play.

Åge Hareide has strung together a good run of results since he took over the head coach position at Rosenborg. They faced Eredivise side PSV Eindhoven in the midweek for Europa League qualifiers, which proved to be too strong of an opponent. The new coach has already made things look much better is his second stint at the club, but they are still some way apart from the instalment of Rosenberg that beat AC Milan at San Siro in 1996.

Odd has had a downward trend in the league before this match, only winning two of the last five matches. In the same timeframe, they have let in 13 goals, which before this match was 46% of the total amount let in.

Rosenborg was able to go away victorious with a 4-1 win in the bag. This tactical analysis will look at the tactics of both teams and provide an analysis of how the home team punished Odd for their defensive frailties.

Lineups and formations

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics

Before the analysis itself, a look at how both sides lined up will be the first step.

The home side will be the first team to delve into. Rosenborg lined up in a 4-2-3-1 structure with Andre Hansen in the goal behind a back four. Erlend Dahl Reitan and Pa Konate started in the right and left fullback roles, with Tore Reginiussen and Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson in the centre-back positions. In front of them a double pivot of Per Ciljan Skjelbred, formerly of Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin, and Markus Henriksen who has come back to Rosenborg after several years abroad at EFL Championship side Hull City, among others.

Anders Konradsen in the number ten position was flanked by Carlo Holse on the right and Kristoffer Zachariassen on the left. In front of them, Dino Islamović started as the striker for the absentee Torgeir Børven who recently went to Ankaragücü in Turkey. A peculiar situation as he already played for both Rosenborg and Odd earlier this season.

Odd lined up in their usual 4-3-3 with many of the usual suspects. Sondre Rossbach in between the posts and behind the back four of Espen Ruud, Odin Bjørtuft, Steffen Hagen and Birk Risa from right to left.

Vebjørn Hoff continued in the number six position behind the duo of Jon Kitolano and Markus André Kaasa. Mushaga Bakenga and Elbasan Rashani took up the right and left flank. Robin Simovic made his second start of the season after joining from Livorno in the summer.

Rosenborg in attack

The home team proved to be vastly more efficient with the ball than the visitors. While they had less of the ball (45%), almost every fourth possession sequence resulted in an entry into the penalty area. The 22 entries of Rosenborg versus the eight from Odd may point to a more successful attacking play. In addition, they had, on average, possession of the ball for three seconds less per possession sequence than Odd. Looking at the entries in conjunction with the total and duration of possession, there is a pattern to suggest a more direct play.

Henriksen would often drop between the centre backs when building from the back. Skjelbred and Konradsen would switch between showing and pushing ahead. The former would more often show close to the right halfspace outside of the opponent structure when the right-back pushed higher. Rosenborg struggled to play to one of them pushing ahead at the start of the match.

The back four would often pass the ball between them, from right to left. Odd kept the structure very tight horizontally, making it hard for Rosenborg to play through them. This resulted in the home team playing long balls to the flanks and to Islamović as a target man upfront more than usual.

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics

A long ball from Henriksen to Zachariassen (out of the picture) as seen above is an example of this solution. However, in the first half, this would not always lead to any further progression as the receiver often were quite isolated except for the fullback below him.

In the same situation, Konradsen in the blue circle is approaching and showing for the ball. This adds to the isolation, as there is no one inside the structure of Rosenborg who can offer support once the ball arrives with Zachariassen. If he instead took three to four steps backwards and stayed in the halfspace he could be a passing option for Zachariassen. If not, then at least someone to provide a marking decision for the opponent.

At the same time, Konate at the left-back could push forward and inside, further adding to the marking decision. Now the right-winger of Odd must decide whether to follow Konradsen in the halfspace or stay with Konate who has become an option.

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics

Above is an example of how Rosenborg often countered on Odd more and more in the second half. Islamović would often stay very high when Rosenborg were defending, serving as an option for a long ball if they were to win the ball. Holse on the right flank would also stay relatively high, taking advantage of Risa on Odd venturing far up the field.

This led to both chances and corner situations which they could create chances from. In turn, it led to them scoring goals in the second half. Rosenborg has several players in their squad who are suited to a more counter-attacking approach. The second half of this match is an excellent example of that.

Rosenborg in defence

Only applying a high press occasionally, Hareide’s men mostly defended in a medium and low block. The 4-2-3-1 structure remained very tight both horizontally and vertically, denying Odd much space and forcing unprecise and risky balls. Whenever Odd tried to play into their structure they usually had enough players near the ball receiver, trapping him with no options to further the play.

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics

In the image above you can see exactly this happening. Islamović blocks the pass into the number six, while Zachariassen on the left-wing pushing out invites the pass to the player inside the structure. Once the ball is played, they can spring the trap. On the far side, the structure is kept tight, not allowing space for anyone to receive between the lines. If Odd decides to switch play, they are forced to play backwards and around.

As mentioned, Rosenborg only pressed high occasionally. When they did, however, they did so wholeheartedly with a lot of players. This happened more often in the second half than in the first. They used a mix of references in the pressing, with most of the players adopting a space-marking system instead of man-marking. The players most often man-marked would be the number six and the near-side winger, as seen below.

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics

Odd in attack

This is a team which on a general note is one of the leagues best teams when it comes to winning second balls around the midfield area. Odd look like they have a very systematic way of ensuring they win the second ball so they can start the attack higher up the field. The entire team will often flock on the left side of the field and utilizing the precise foot of goalkeeper Rossbach to hit the long balls for the front group to put down for the midfielders.

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics

If they do not win the initial header, they are equally ready to counter-press on the opponent receiver. The swarming of players on one flank with little vertical room between the lines allows them to have an aggressive press. These second balls and the optional counter-press is one of the most dangerous weapons Odd have in their arsenal.

This game, however, they did not produce the good chances they normally do through this approach. Rosenborg was able to limit the number of headers they won with a host of tall and strong players themselves. Adding to this they often had the option of playing a safety ball backwards or sideways after winning the header, escaping the press of Odd. When Odd won the ball, they often passed back to their own back four, as seen below.

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics

However, they also have adopted a more patient approach to the build-up during the current season, which have seen a good amount of success before the bad run they are currently in. Despite constantly improving, when changing an aspect of how one approach play or a certain method used, there will be setbacks. This match was part of that setback for Odd.

Something which has become more prevalent in Odd’s play this season is the attempt to find the two number eights between the lines of the opponent. The way to do this has often been through progressive runs by centre backs. In theory, the dribbling by the centre back will invite an opponent to press. If the timing of the pass and positioning is good enough, then the central midfielder may receive behind the opponent.

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics

In the picture above the left centre back has already dribbled the ball and is nearly past the first line of pressure. The problem here, however, is that no teammate is occupying or trying to move into the space between the lines. Especially when looking at the two Odd players marked in the middle. They are facing the carrier, standing idle by their markers. Neither pulling them away nor approaching space to receive.

Two players in the picture are theoretically open and are also asking for the ball. Firstly, Kitolano in the middle of the pitch and the marked player closest to the camera position. He is showing for the ball but from an extremely difficult position. The carrier has pressure from that side, and Kitolano is barely out of the cover shadow of the closest opponent.

Rashani on the left flank is the other option, and the one the centre back ends up using. He shows with his run that he wants it behind the defensive line. That should in theory be a more manageable pass as he can play it over. The execution ends up not being good enough, and Rosenborg has an easy possession regain.

Odd in defence

A high press is a usual approach for Odd. As seen in the first photo in this tactical analysis, they will often use the medium block to prevent passes into their structure. Then when the pass is played backwards, they push forward and initiate their high press.

The biggest problem for Odd in this match out of possession may be a consequence of what they did in possession. As a team that often counter-press high in the field, the structure in possession is crucial. A good structure allows you to immediately press to regain. A poor structure not only hinders you counter-pressing, but it also leaves you open to counter-attacks.

This is what happened more and more to Odd in the second half especially. Their structure in possession did not allow for a quick regain as seen below. This exact situation below did not directly result in a chance. It did, however, lead to a corner, Rosenborg was able to keep the ball in Odd’s half and in a new corner a couple of minutes later, they scored.

Eliteserien 2020: Rosenborg vs Odds Ballklubb - tactical analysis tactics


Rosenborg has shown great improvement since Hareide took over earlier this summer. There is still a long way to go for them to be back at the level they are used to but beating Odd in a manner such convincing as this is a sign that they are doing things right. For Odd, however, this will be a level they have to match if they want to continue pushing for European football. This match was a minor setback as they now have to do more chasing to get into the spots for continental football next season.