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 РMario 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 »