Germany 4-2 Greece: near-total dominance

June 22, 2012
Germany 4-2 Greece: near-total dominance

Germany thrashed a poor Greece side to progress to the semi-finals with ease.

Jogi Low, as widely reported before the game, changed three of his front four. Mesut Ozil remained, but Marco Reus, Andre Schurrle and Miroslav Klose replaced Thomas Muller, Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez.

Fernando Santos was without Giorgos Karagounis from the centre of midfield, so Grigoris Makis played instead. Sotiris Ninis played on the right, with Dmitri Salpingidis upfront.

Greece tried to soak up pressure, but simply weren’t good enough defensively and Germany constantly created chances. Read more »

Germany v Greece preview

June 22, 2012
Germany v Greece preview

On paper, this is the most one-sided of the four quarter-finals. Germany qualified the most impressively of the eight quarter-finalists, while Greece squeezed through with just four points.

Team news

Greek coach Fernando Santos is without two players because of suspension. Giorgos Karagounis is absent from the centre of midfield, while left-back Jose Holebas is also unavailable, though might not have started anyway.

Jogi Löw doesn’t have such problems – in fact, he has Jerome Boateng back after a ban – but reports in today’s German newspapers suggest he’s set to make radical changes in the final third. Most importantly, it seems certain that Miroslav Klose will start instead of Mario Gomez upfront. On the flanks, Andre Schurrle is challenging Lukas Podolski for a starting place, while Marco Reus could play instead of Thomas Muller. It would be a surprise if Löw changed three of his front four, and probably unnecessary considering their 100% record so far. Read more »

Portugal 1-0 Czech Republic: Ronaldo a constant threat and eventually gets the winner

June 21, 2012
Portugal 1-0 Czech Republic: Ronaldo a constant threat and eventually gets the winner

Cristiano Ronaldo was a greater goalscoring threat than the Czech side put together, as Portugal narrowly won a game that should have been safe much earlier.

Paulo Bento named an unchanged side again – he’s played this XI in Portugal’s last six competitive games, four at the Euros, two in the play-offs against Bosnia.

Michael Bilek was without Tomas Rosicky again, and used Vladimir Darida rather than Daniel Kolar in Rosicky’s attacking midfield role.

This was a one-sided game, with Portugal superior all over the pitch. Read more »

Czech Republic v Portugal preview

June 21, 2012
Czech Republic v Portugal preview

This is a battle between two reasonably similar teams. They may play different formations, but they have the same problems – and, most interestingly, will look to play down the same flank.

9 and 10?

The first similarity the lack of a prolific number nine. Milan Baros and Helder Postiga have both started all three games, but Milan Baros has had two shots in the competition (no goals) and Helder Postiga has had three (one goal). They’re simply not a consistent goal threat, and the main part of their job is holding the ball up, drawing fouls and linking with the wide players.

The second similarity is the absence of a creative attacking midfielder. We knew this about Portugal before the competition started, but for the Czechs it’s a new development. Tomas Rosicky’s injury means he’ll probably be on the bench tonight, and replacement Daniel Kolar struggles to replicate Rosicky’s impact upon matches. Read more »

England 1-0 Ukraine: cagey game

June 20, 2012
England 1-0 Ukraine: cagey game

Wayne Rooney returned to head in a simple goal, and England finish top of Group D.

Roy Hodgson dropped Andy Carroll to bring in Rooney, so Danny Welbeck returned to his position as the primary centre-forward.

Oleh Blokhin made various changes – Andriy Shevchenko wasn’t fit enough to start, and Andriy Voronin was dropped, so there was an all-new centre-forward partnership of Artem Milevskiy and Marco Devic. Serhiy Nazarenko was replaced by Denys Harmash, and Yaroslav Rakitskiy came in at the back.

Like all three of England’s matches, this was poor technical game lacking in quality, and many of the chances came from set-pieces and crosses. Read more »

Spain 1-0 Croatia: Navas snatches late winner

June 18, 2012
Spain 1-0 Croatia: Navas snatches late winner

Spain played an extremely cautious game, but won after Croatia pushed forward.

Vicente Del Bosque kept the same starting XI, meaning Fernando Torres again spearheaded the attack.

Slaven Bilic made various changes, effectively using a version of the 4-2-3-1 system he finished the Italy game with. Domagoj Vida started at right-back, pushing Darijo Srna forward to the right of midfield. Danijel Pranjic started on the left, with Luka Modric as the number ten. Nikica Jelavic and Ivan Perisic were only substitutes.

Spain were particularly unimpressive despite their eventual win, predictably dominating possession but creating few chances. Read more »

Portugal 2-1 Holland: van Marwijk makes changes, but Holland crash out with zero points

June 18, 2012
Portugal 2-1 Holland: van Marwijk makes changes, but Holland crash out with zero points

Portugal suffered an early setback, but played better football and fully deserved their win.

Paulo Bento kept the same starting XI for the third game in a row.

Bert van Marwijk made three changes. In defence, Ron Vlaar replaced Johnny Heitinga in a straight swap. It was further forward where he made significant alterations – Rafael van der Vaart came in for Mark van Bommel in order to add some creativity to the midfield, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar started upfront, meaning Robin van Persie played just behind a and Wesley Sneijder went to the left, the system Holland used at the end of the Germany match.

There was a huge contrast in styles here – Holland were a bunch of individuals without any cohesive structure, while Portugal were disciplined, organised and clear with their attacking intentions. Read more »

England 3-2 Sweden: long balls, set-pieces and terrible defending

June 16, 2012
England 3-2 Sweden: long balls, set-pieces and terrible defending

A scrappy game low on quality, but high on entertainment.

Roy Hodgson made one change. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was dropped with Ashley Young moving to the left, and Andy Carroll coming upfront as a target man.

Erik Hamren brought in three players – Johan Elmander upfront, Anders Svensson in the middle, and Jonas Olsson at the back, though Sweden played pretty much the same formation as against Ukraine.

This was a crazy, open match that could have gone either way – both sides had spells when they were on top. Read more »

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 »

Germany 2-1 Holland: German flexibility outwits the static Dutch midfield

June 14, 2012
Germany 2-1 Holland: German flexibility outwits the static Dutch midfield

The second excellent Group B game of the night, and another encounter decided by superiority in one particular zone.

Jogi Löw continued with the same starting XI that defeated Portugal on Saturday.

Despite widespread predictions that Holland would change at least one of their front four, Bert van Marwijk’s selection featured only one change, with Ron Vlaar dropping out of the side now Joris Mathijsen was fit to start. Clearly, van Marwijk believed that the majority of Holland’s play against Denmark was good – it was just the finishing that let them down.

Germany were much the better side here – they were more comfortable on the ball, their movement was better and they played at a quicker tempo. It was something of a surprise to see them hanging on towards the end of the game, having been so superior in the first half. Read more »

Portugal 3-2 Denmark: No tracking from Ronaldo and Rommedahl means goals come from that flank

June 13, 2012
Portugal 3-2 Denmark: No tracking from Ronaldo and Rommedahl means goals come from that flank

Silvestre Varela grabbed a late winner as Portugal registered their first win of Euro 2012.

Paulo Bento named an unchanged side from the team that lost to Germany – Helder Postiga continued upfront, despite Nelson Oliveira’s positive impact from the bench in the opening game.

Morten Olsen also made no changes from Denmark’s surprise 1-0 win over Holland.

Think of Portugal and Denmark – not just the current sides, but their style over the course of the century so far – and you think of width. That was the main story here, with little happening in the centre of midfield, and all the attacking thrust coming from the flanks. Read more »

Poland 1-1 Russia: Poland beef up their midfield and prevent Russia counter-attacking

June 13, 2012
Poland 1-1 Russia: Poland beef up their midfield and prevent Russia counter-attacking

Neither side played particularly open football – but strangely, this turned out to be a very good contest.

Wojciech Szczesny was suspended, so Franciszek Smuda continued with Przemyslaw Tyton, the hero of the first game, in goal. More interestingly, he changed the structure of his side, moving to more of a 4-1-4-1 formation, dropping left-winger Maciej Rybus in favour of a solid holder, Dariusz Dudka. Ludovic Obraniak moved to the left.

Dick Advocaat continued with the XI that hit four goals in Russia’s opening day win over the Czech Republic. Aleksandr Kerzhakov retained his place upfront despite Roman Pavlyuchenko’s impact from the bench – Kerzhakov’s finishing had been wayward, but his movement and link-up play was excellent, and he deserved his place here.

Neither side took the initiative and both looked to prevent the other counter-attacking. Smuda was reactive with his approach and fairly negative, but his tactics worked well. Read more »

Czech Republic 2-1 Greece: Greece vulnerable down their left again

June 12, 2012
Czech Republic 2-1 Greece: Greece vulnerable down their left again

The Czech Republic had a very good first ten minutes, and that was enough to put themselves in a commanding position.

Both coaches made changes to their starting line-ups, moving their XI closer to the side that finished their opening matches. Michal Bilek started holding midfielder Tomas Hubschman, with Petr Jiracek on the left of midfield. At the back, Michael Kadlec moved into the middle from the left-back position he looked uncomfortable in against Russia, so David Limbersky came into the side at left-back.

Fernando Santos went with the forward trio that ended the 1-1 draw against Poland, so Giorgos Samaras started in the centre, with Dimitris Salpingidis on the right, and Kostas Fortounis deeper on the left. Santos was without both first-choice centre-backs, so Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Kostas Katsouranis played there, with Giorgos Fotakis starting in the centre of midfield.

This wasn’t a high quality match – the Czech Republic raced into a 2-0 lead and then sat back, preserving their lead, conserving their energy. Like in the first game, Greece improved after half-time, but were still disappointingly tame in the final third. Read more »

France 1-1 England: France dominate possession but creativity stifled by England sitting deep

June 11, 2012
France 1-1 England: France dominate possession but creativity stifled by England sitting deep

A match with little invention, played at a very slow pace.

Laurent Blanc chose his expected side in a 4-3-3, with Florent Malouda shuttling forward from the midfield.

Roy Hodgson’s side contained one surprise name – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who started on the left. James Milner started on the other flank, and Danny Welbeck got the nod over Andy Carroll upfront.

As expected, France dominated possession (65%) and had 21 shots compared to England’s 5, but many were from long-range, as Blanc’s side struggled to create clear-cut chances. Read more »

Ukraine 2-1 Sweden: the Shevchenko show

June 11, 2012
Ukraine 2-1 Sweden: the Shevchenko show

The story of the tournament so far – Andriy Shevchenko rolled back the years to complete a surprise turnaround in Kiev.

Shevchenko was named from the start, despite speculation Oleg Blokhin would use him as a substitute. The rest of the side was as expected.

Erik Hamren made a surprise choice in the centre of midfield, playing Rasmus Elm alongside Kim Kallstrom. This meant Ola Toivonen started on the left, and Markus Rosenberg played upfront.

This was a peculiar game, where all the interesting tactical features were completely divorced from the goalscoring action. The goals were simply three smart finishes from clever strikers, and their nature wasn’t representative of the football played over the course of 90 minutes.

Shevchenko’s double was so special because he won the game on his own – it was Shevchenko’s superb runs and smart finishes that were the difference between the sides – he didn’t simply put the finishing touches to a dominant performance, he was the reason Ukraine were victorious. Read more »

Spain 1-1 Italy: Spain start with no striker, Italy use a 3-5-2

June 10, 2012
Spain 1-1 Italy: Spain start with no striker, Italy use a 3-5-2

A fascinating tactical battle between two systems rarely seen at international level.

Vicente del Bosque supposedly had a three-way choice between Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Llorente and Fernando Torres upfront – but instead chose to play with a false nine, with David Silva and Cesc Fabregas both becoming the highest player up the pitch at different points.

Cesare Prandelli went with the 3-5-2 system he’s been using in training over the past two weeks, which meant Daniele De Rossi dropping into the defence, and Emanuele Giaccherini making his international debut as a left wing-back.

Spain inevitably had more of the ball, and probably created more too. But Prandelli’s system frustrated the reigning champions for long periods of the game (as Spain’s own narrowness and lack of depth) and of the two unusual systems, it was Prandelli’s that was more impressive. Read more »

Croatia 3-1 Ireland: Ireland invite pressure, but deal with it poorly

June 10, 2012
Croatia 3-1 Ireland: Ireland invite pressure, but deal with it poorly

Croatia recorded a comfortable victory over Ireland and go top of Group C.

Slaven Bilic used Vedran Corluka in the centre of defence and played Darijo Srna in his traditional position of right-back in order to play Ivan Rakitic on the right of midfield, and used Ognjen Vukojevic as his holding midfielder.

Giovanni Trapattoni announced his XI days ago, and they started as expected (with 1-11 on their backs).

Set-pieces played a large part here, but Croatia were the better side – more inventive with their passing, cleverer with their movement, more ruthless in the penalty box. Read more »

Germany 1-0 Portugal: Gomez gets the nod upfront, and nods in the only goal

June 10, 2012
Germany 1-0 Portugal: Gomez gets the nod upfront, and nods in the only goal

The quietest of Euro 2012’s four games so far ended with a narrow German victory.

Jogi Löw had a few decisions to make – Mario Gomez, rather than Miroslav Klose, started upfront and Mats Hummels was picked over Per Mertesacker in the centre of defence. At right-back, Jerome Boateng played up against Cristiano Ronaldo, despite rumours that Lars Bender would be played out of position there.

There were no surprises in Paulo Bento’s team selection. Miguel Veloso played deep in midfield contrary to reports that Custodio would get a game, and Helder Postiga was the centre-forward.

This was a low-key, cagey match that never seemed likely to produce many goals. Read more »

Denmark 1-0 Holland: Krohn-Dehli goal provides the first surprise of the tournament

June 9, 2012
Denmark 1-0 Holland: Krohn-Dehli goal provides the first surprise of the tournament

Holland had the majority of possession and chances, but Denmark snatched the three points.

Morten Olsen chose the XI that was widely expected to start the game, in a rough 4-2-3-1 formation.

Bert van Marwijk’s starting selection was also as predicted, with Ron Vlaar in the side to replace the injured Joris Mathijsen. Jetro Willems became the youngest player in European Championship history at left-back.

This wasn’t quite the usual “park the bus and counter-attack” you expect from an underdog winning 1-0 – Denmark were simply outplayed for long periods in the first half, rode their luck, but then defended excellently in the final 20 minutes. Read more »

Russia 4-1 Czech Republic: Russia’s Zenit-style counter-attacking exposes Czech weaknesses

June 9, 2012
Russia 4-1 Czech Republic: Russia’s Zenit-style counter-attacking exposes Czech weaknesses

Russia made a terrific start to their Euro 2012 campaign with a high quality counter-attacking performance.

Dick Advocaat named his expected side – a 4-3-3 system, with Vyacheslav Malafeev in goal.

Michel Bilek’s side featured one alteration from the expected XI – Michal Kadlec moved to the left, where he frequently played during qualification, which meant Roman Hubnik playing at centre-back, and no place for David Limbersky.

Russia were simply the better side throughout the game – more organised defensively, and showcasing much more penetration going forward. Read more »

Poland 1-1 Greece: Poland start brilliantly but Greece adjust admirably after red card

June 8, 2012
Poland 1-1 Greece: Poland start brilliantly but Greece adjust admirably after red card

One goal each, one red card each, and one point each in an entertaining opening game of Euro 2012.

Poland went with their expected side – there were no real debates to be settled in the starting line-up, and Franciszek Smuda used his usual structured yet energetic 4-2-3-1 system.

Fernando Santos had two major decisions to make. The first was in goal, where Kostas Chalkias was chosen from Greece’s three distinctly average goalkeepers. The second choice was on the right of the front three, where Sotiris Ninis started over Dimitris Salpingidis.

This was a game of three phases: 11 v 11, 11 v 10, 10 v 10. Both sides looked in a commanding position at one stage, but a draw was a fair result. Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: France

June 6, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: France

Whatever happens at this tournament, Euro 2012 will be an improvement on the sheer embarrassment of World Cup 2010 for France. The off-field problems meant it was almost impossible to determine how good a side France could have been, and therefore it’s difficult to judge how well Laurent Blanc has performed. But then, repairing the morale of the squad was key, and Blanc seems to have handled that well; his side are now on a 21-match unbeaten run.

On the field, there are still problems to solve. In his three pre-tournament qualifiers, Blanc was either indulging himself in widespread experimentation, or he was a little lost. France have a great number of good players, particularly attacking midfielders, but those players are all of a vaguely similar standard – only Franck Ribery seems undroppable – and all are highly versatile.

Blanc seems to have too many options, and while it feels like there’s a winning combination somewhere, France haven’t yet found it (although the 4-0 win over Estonia on Tuesday night was impressive). As a result, they are highly unpredictable – if it all comes together they could win the competition. If Blanc keeps changing things, it could be a disaster.
Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Ukraine

June 6, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Ukraine

It’s difficult to make a case for Ukraine performing well at this competition. They have home advantage, of course (they wouldn’t be here otherwise) but in the long-term they’ve had four coaches in four years, and in the short-term their squad has been suffering from food poisoning, which has hampered pre-tournament preparations.

Oleg Blokhin is an experienced coach and was in charge of Ukraine for their previous international tournament, World Cup 2006. He’s something of an old-school coach who stresses the need for “players who are prepared to fight for their country”, and has a strict rule that “a candidate for the national side must be a first-choice player at his club.” They are hardly unreasonable demands, but Ukraine neither possesses any superstars nor a particularly deep squad, so hecan hardly afford to be picky. An injury to Dmytro Chygrynskiy, perhaps their best player, hasn’t helped. Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: England

June 6, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: England

Roy Hodgson was the right choice as England coach – at least in the short-term – but realistically, you can’t expect a side to play good football when their coach is appointed a month before the tournament.

Besides, even without considering the managerial situation or England’s terrible record of injuries in the last couple of weeks, England have their weakest set of players for many years. The alleged ‘golden generation’ (though this phrase has been used more frequently in a sarcastic tone than in praise of the players) are now slightly over the hill – Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand are all still doing a good job for their clubs, but their peak was a few years ago, and they never combined to great success then. There is a decent young generation coming through, but for various reasons they haven’t established themselves in the side yet.

Hodgson is left with an uninspiring squad that isn’t really one thing nor the other – it’s not blessed with great technical quality, nor does it have the feel of a settled, organised squad who will be defensively disciplined. Some of Hodgson’s decisions have been questionable – the biggest one might have been taken by the FA, rather than him – but he doesn’t have much to work with. Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Sweden

June 6, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Sweden

For the first time since World Cup 1994, Sweden are at a major international tournament without Lars Lagerback. Now in charge of Iceland, Lagerback was at the helm for so long (first as a joint-coach with Tommy Soderberg, then in sole charge) that his footballing style -organised, defensive – became merged with Sweden’s footballing style, to the point where it was difficult to tell the difference between the two, at least to an outsider.

But think back to 1994, and Sweden were an attack-minded side – in fact, they were the highest scorers at that tournament, with 15 goals. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a complete shock that Sweden are now playing expansive, attacking football under new coach Erik Hamren.

After Sweden became bored of Lagerback’s cautious approach (although it took non-qualification for the 2010 World Cup to seal his departure) they were always likely to become a more open side as a reaction. Along with Germany and Holland, they were one of only three sides to score 30 goals in qualifying. Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Croatia

June 6, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Croatia

Of the 16 teams in this competition, Croatia are one of the hardest to define. They seem trapped between a few different ways of playing, and don’t have a specific footballing identity

They are clearly not as good as the excellent side of 2008, despite retaining a few of the key players, and a hint of the same formation and style. The loss of Niko Kovac, the excellent holding midfielder, has never really been compensated for, and while their current defensive midfielder Tomislav Dujmovic is hard-working, he lacks the positional intelligence of Kovac.

When that is combined with a centre-back duo that badly lacks pace, Croatia are forced into a much more conservative style than four years ago. Slaven Bilic’s reputation has fallen sharply in that time, but he still has a chance to go out on a high before joining Lokomotiv. Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Spain

June 6, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Spain

Spain didn’t win World Cup 2010 through pure tiki-taka. They won because they mixed tiki-taka with different options that brought more directness and urgency to their play.

When they went with pure tiki-taka, they stumbled. The defeat to Switzerland in their opening game of the World Cup was a huge shock, but while the Swiss deserved credit for the way they defended, the real story was how painfully predictable Spain were in their build-up play. With Andres Iniesta on one flank and David Silva on the other, and both coming inside into the same area of the pitch, Spain often occupied a width of around ten metres with their attacking trio. With Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets all sitting behind the ball, Spain never looked like offering enough variation to make the breakthrough, and they lost 1-0. Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Italy

June 6, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Italy

In many ways, Cesare Prandelli isn’t a typical Italian coach. He’s a highly intelligent man, but one doesn’t think of him as a pure tactician like Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni or Fabio Capello. He’s of an Arsene Wenger figure – he wants an overall, attacking philosophy rather than lots of specific tactics, and likes developing young players to suit his footballing identity.

He has attempted to move Italy towards a more positive style of play. That’s partly because it’s Prandelli’s natural style as coach, but also because Italy don’t have the secure defenders we’re accustomed to. The days of Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini have gone – Italy have good defenders, but not great ones. They’re more blessed in midfield.

Prandelli explains: “Many of the players felt that the time had come to play – I won’t say a different type of game because, in football, there is nothing new – but something else. Given that I have plenty of quality midfielders, I felt we should play to our strengths and with these players that means a much more attacking game.” Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Ireland

June 6, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Ireland

It is a decade since Ireland last qualified for a major international tournament, and the three biggest stars from the 2002 World Cup will represent Ireland again here – Shay Given in goal, Damien Duff on the wing and Robbie Keane upfront.

They’re probably still the three biggest stars, which rather sums up Ireland’s situation – they don’t have any world class footballers, and that has been foremost in Giovanni Trapattoni’s mind since he took charge of Ireland.

Trapattoni has focused upon creating a solid, reliable unit. Everything he says is about the system, about discipline. “I have given them balance, an equilibrium, and I have underlined that all 11 players attack and defend, without necessarily expecting to play well,” he once said. His quotes are celebrated, his playing style is not. Ireland are ultra-defensive. “In the past had ships with sails and they had to go wherever it was the wind took them,” Trapattoni says. ”Now, you can set a course and that is what I have done with this team. But if you depart from the course, then you end up on the rocks.” Read more »