France 2-0 Germany: formation decisions enable Germany to dominate

July 8, 2016
France 2-0 Germany: formation decisions enable Germany to dominate

Germany completely dominated the first half – but two individual mistakes means France progress to Sunday’s semi-final.

Didier Deschamps continued with the team which had defeated Iceland 5-2. That meant Samuel Umtiti kept his place at the back, and Moussa Sissoko remained on the right despite N’Golo Kante’s availability – therefore, France started in their 4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2 shape, rather than the 4-3-3.

Joachim Low was without the suspended Mats Hummels and the injured Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez. He surprisingly selected Emre Can for the first time in the competition, with Julian Draxler back in the side, in a 4-3-3 formation.

In the first half, Germany played arguably the best spell of football Euro 2016 has witnessed – but they couldn’t find the breakthrough. Read more »

Portugal 2-0 Wales: Wales struggle to penetrate Portugal’s block, then Ronaldo and Nani pounce

July 7, 2016
Portugal 2-0 Wales: Wales struggle to penetrate Portugal’s block, then Ronaldo and Nani pounce

Portugal defeated Wales in an unspectacular but efficient manner, in a low-key semi-final.

Fernando Santos was without suspended holding midfielder William Carvalho, so played Danilo in his place. Bruno Alves replaced the injured Pepe, while Raphael Guerrero came on for Eliseu at left-back. The shape of the side, however, was unchanged.

Chris Coleman had two suspensions to cope with. Ben Davies was replaced by James Collins, with James Chester moving from the right-sided centre-back to the left-sided position. More importantly, Aaron Ramsey also missed out, with Andy King chosen over Jonny Williams in that box-to-box midfield role.

Portugal played defensively, while Wales were disappointing in possession. Ronaldo and Nani were clinical in the box, which won the game.

Read more »

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.

Read more »

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.

Read more »