France 5-2 Iceland: Griezmann & Giroud together helps wins the game before half-time

July 5, 2016
France 5-2 Iceland: Griezmann & Giroud together helps wins the game before half-time

A completely one-sided game in Paris, as France progressed to the semi-final with ease.

Didier Deschamps had two players suspended. Adil Rami was replaced by left-footed Samuel Umtiti, who was making his international debut, which meant Laurent Koscielny moved to the right of the centre-back duo. The other decision was more important, however. With N’Golo Kante out, Deschamps selected right-sided midfielder Moussa Sissoko rather than Yohan Cabaye, who would have been a direct replacement for Kante. This meant the system changed from 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2, featuring Antoine Griezmann just behind Olivier Giroud.

Iceland joint-managers Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson named the same team for the fifth consecutive game, in the usual 4-4-2 shape.

Iceland’s journey to this stage has been remarkable, but their limitations were exposed here. France were 4-0 up by half-time, and switched off for the second half.

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Germany 1-1 Italy: Low matches Conte’s back three, and playmaking starts from defence

July 4, 2016
Germany 1-1 Italy: Low matches Conte’s back three, and playmaking starts from defence

Germany squeezed past Italy on penalties, after Jogi Low changed his formation to match Italy’s three-man defence.

That change involved dropping Julian Draxler and bringing Benedikt Howedes back into the side. Sami Khedira started alongside Toni Kroos, but lasted just 15 minutes because of injury, and was replaced by Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Antonio Conte was without the injured Daniele De Rossi and the suspended Thiago Motta, with Marco Parolo playing that deep midfield role and Stefano Sturaro coming into the side on his right.

The tactical interest here was mainly about Low’s formation decision – and while this created an interesting pattern, neither manager did much to change the situation.

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Wales 3-1 Belgium: positioning of Ramsey, Bale, Taylor & Gunter pulls Belgium out of shape

July 4, 2016
Wales 3-1 Belgium: positioning of Ramsey, Bale, Taylor & Gunter pulls Belgium out of shape

Wales went behind – but nevertheless produced a brilliant all-round team display to eliminate Belgium.

Chris Coleman made one change to his side, reintroducing Hal Robson-Kanu, who was deemed more likely to stretch the Belgian defence than Sam Vokes, a more traditional centre-forward. In a game where Wales expected to play on the break, that key selection decision made sense.

Marc Wilmots was forced to completely change the left of his defence, with Thomas Vermaelen suspended and Jan Vertonghen injured. Jordan Lukaku played at left-back, with Jason Denayer at centre-back.

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Portugal 1-1 Poland: Portugal forced to press higher, but game fades badly

July 2, 2016
Portugal 1-1 Poland: Portugal forced to press higher, but game fades badly

Portugal qualify for the semi-finals, despite failing to win any of their five matches in 90 minutes.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos made two changes. The most important decision was handing Renato Sanches his first start of the competition, while Eliseu returned at left-back. Andre Gomes and Raphael Guerreiro dropped out.

Poland manager Adam Nawalka named an unchanged side for the first time at Euro 2016

This game started off excellently – an early goal forced Portugal to come out and play more proactively than they had intended – but faded quite disastrously after half-time, in terms of intensity, technical quality and tactical interest. The first half, though, had been entertaining.
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