Germany v Italy preview

June 28, 2012
Germany v Italy preview

Euro 2012 has been a fine tournament, but we’re still waiting for a truly classic match. Could this be it?

There is a good chance. In each of the quarter-finals there was one side looking only to defend, and last night’s semi-final was contested between two cautious sides. But both Germany and Italy want to play good football.

“We cannot sit deep, Germany will press us high up the pitch, and we are ready for this,” says Cesare Prandelli. “We will not change what has brought us here, it would be a shame to waste the work of two years.”

“We have to think of a way to play better than Italy in midfield and dictate the tempo of the match,” Jogi Low stated. “We will not let Italy show us how to play football. It’s a confidence thing. We have to be cheeky, we have to be strong and brave.”

If the coaches are true to their word – and there’s no reason to suggest otherwise – this should be tremendously entertaining match. Read more »

Spain 0-0 Portugal: Portugal upset Spain’s rhythm but fail to record a shot on target

June 28, 2012
Spain 0-0 Portugal: Portugal upset Spain’s rhythm but fail to record a shot on target

Spain defeated Portugal on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Vicente del Bosque surprisingly named Alvaro Negredo as his lone striker, meaning Cesc Fabregas dropped to the bench. The rest of the side was as expected.

Paulo Bento was forced to change his striker, with Helder Postiga injured. As already announced, Hugo Almeida replaced him.

A difficult game to summarise – Portugal pressed well in midfield, broke up Spain’s passing and restricted the number of opportunities del Bosque’s side had. However, they lacked a goal threat of their own, and then Spain were the better side in extra time. Read more »

Portugal v Spain preview

June 27, 2012
Portugal v Spain preview

Will Portugal be able to break up Spain’s dominant passing game? More to the point, will they attempt to?

Selection

There will be few surprises in selection. Paulo Bento, having kept the same starting XI for his previous six competitive games, has been forced to bring in Hugo Almeida upfront in place of the injured Helder Postiga. Nelson Oliveira is another option, and some would argue that his greater mobility brings more to Portugal’s game. But he’s seen as a supersub by Bento, and will probably replace Almedia after around an hour, to give Portugal’s attack more pace.

Vicente Del Bosque’s only area of concern is in the same position. Having used Cesc Fabregas as a false nine in two games, and Fernando Torres as a proper nine in the other two, it’s a difficult decision to predict. Spain acted as if they didn’t know how to play with a false nine against Italy in their opening game (which is understandable, as Cesc Fabregas said they hadn’t trained in that system before) but were much improved against France. Read more »