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 »