France 2-0 Ukraine: Ribery v Husiev battle decides the game

June 16, 2012
France 2-0 Ukraine: Ribery v Husiev battle decides the game

After a long rain delay, France took the initiative and went onto win the game comfortably.

Laurent Blanc made two changes. One was a straight swap, with Patrice Evra dropping out and Gael Clichy starting at left-back. Higher up, the introduction of Jeremy Menez at the expense of Florent Malouda meant Samir Nasri moved into a permanent central position, and France switched to a 4-2-3-1.

Oleg Blokhin had said before the tournament that he didn’t have a set first choice XI, and would switch from game to game, but after Ukraine’s famous 2-1 victory over Sweden on Monday, he stuck with the same side.

The first half was heavily affected by the rain delay – the teams returned to the pitch and played very slow football that lacked ambition. In the second half, the game was much more open and interesting. Read more »

Italy 1-1 Croatia: Pirlo dictates first half, Croatia dominate the second after half-time switch

June 15, 2012
Italy 1-1 Croatia: Pirlo dictates first half, Croatia dominate the second after half-time switch

Croatia initially had problems with Italy’s 3-5-2, but a clever half-time switch by Slaven Bilic got them back into the game.

Cesare Prandelli kept the same formation and starting XI, so Mario Balotelli remained upfront despite Antonio Di Natale’s impact as a substitute in the 1-1 draw against Spain.

Bilic rewarded the eleven players that played in the 3-1 win over Ireland with a second start.

A game of two halves. In the first, Italy recorded 11 shots compared to Croatia’s three. In the second, Croatia ‘won’ this statistic 7-3, summing up the change in the balance of play. Read more »

Spain 4-0 Ireland: whitewash

June 14, 2012
Spain 4-0 Ireland: whitewash

The biggest win of Euro 2012 so far.

Vicente del Bosque made one change, leaving out Cesc Fabregas and playing with a proper striker – Fernando Torres started upfront.

Giovanni Trapattoni also made a single change upfront – Kevin Doyle dropped out, and Simon Cox started behind Robbie Keane.

Spain were clearly the better side here – so much so, that the tactical battle was almost non-existent. Ireland did well to get to half-time at only 0-1, but Spain wrapped the game up soon into the second half. Neither side did anything different or unusual tactically. Read more »