Pascal Jansen requires his players to move a lot off the ball to create space in the wide channels. To do this he usually sets the team up in a 1-4-2-3-1 or 1-4-3-3 formation
A frequent movements in AZ Alkmaar‘s attack is the overlapping of the full backs (Sugawara, Wijndal) in order to grab the attention of the rival defenders and free up space in the center. Such off the ball movements are able to create space and time for the wingers to both centre and direct the action towards the centre. Therefore Jansen’s side players always have the choice of continuing the double action on an overloaded wings or going inside into the free space. When the rival presses high the central defenders position themselves wide and the full backs go higher providing width, while the two central midfielders go deeper drawing the rivals into ever higher pressing and creating space behind their backs for direct passing.
Alkmaar‘s typical pressing is not so aggressive but relies on individual marking and quick closing down of channels and passing options to force opponents to withdraw the ball. In a high block they press the rival defenders forcing them to exploit the goalkeeper, who is most often forced into a long pass as all close options are closed down. Although Jansen avoids aggressively involving multiple players in pressing in the rival’s half, the smaller number of players involved gives Alkmaar’s players more opportunities to recover the ball before rivals get under their goal.