Euro 2012 final: Spain v Italy preview

June 30, 2012
Euro 2012 final: Spain v Italy preview

Of the 30 games at Euro 2012 so far, the 1-1 draw between these two countries in the first game of Group C was probably the most fascinating in a tactical sense. A back three battled against a false nine – not a formation match-up you see very regularly.

Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to see such a contest this time around, now Italy have moved away from a 3-5-2 to a midfield diamond. But then again, the diamond is also unique in this tournament – and besides, it gives us an entirely different tactical battle.

It’s odd that these two managers should produce interesting strategic battles. Both are fine coaches, but neither are particularly keen tacticians. Read more »

Italy 2-1 Germany: Balotelli double

June 29, 2012
Italy 2-1 Germany: Balotelli double

Jogi Low tried to change his shape to compete in the centre of midfield, but Italy produced an excellent performance to qualify for the final.

Cesare Prandelli kept his diamond system. Giorgio Chiellini returned at left-back, but Ignazio Abate was unfit, so Federico Balzaretti moved over to an unfamiliar right-back role.

Jogi Low had decisions to make in his front four, with only Mesut Ozil sure of his place. Mario Gomez was chosen ahead of Miroslav Klose, and Lukas Podolski was selected rather than Andre Schurrle. But the real surprise was in the other role, as Toni Kroos came into the side.

That was an attempt to deal with Italy’s midfield diamond, but Germany didn’t have the right structure in the centre of the pitch and were disappointing for long periods. Read more »

Germany v Italy preview

June 28, 2012
Germany v Italy preview

Euro 2012 has been a fine tournament, but we’re still waiting for a truly classic match. Could this be it?

There is a good chance. In each of the quarter-finals there was one side looking only to defend, and last night’s semi-final was contested between two cautious sides. But both Germany and Italy want to play good football.

“We cannot sit deep, Germany will press us high up the pitch, and we are ready for this,” says Cesare Prandelli. “We will not change what has brought us here, it would be a shame to waste the work of two years.”

“We have to think of a way to play better than Italy in midfield and dictate the tempo of the match,” Jogi Low stated. “We will not let Italy show us how to play football. It’s a confidence thing. We have to be cheeky, we have to be strong and brave.”

If the coaches are true to their word – and there’s no reason to suggest otherwise – this should be tremendously entertaining match. Read more »

Spain 0-0 Portugal: Portugal upset Spain’s rhythm but fail to record a shot on target

June 28, 2012
Spain 0-0 Portugal: Portugal upset Spain’s rhythm but fail to record a shot on target

Spain defeated Portugal on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Vicente del Bosque surprisingly named Alvaro Negredo as his lone striker, meaning Cesc Fabregas dropped to the bench. The rest of the side was as expected.

Paulo Bento was forced to change his striker, with Helder Postiga injured. As already announced, Hugo Almeida replaced him.

A difficult game to summarise – Portugal pressed well in midfield, broke up Spain’s passing and restricted the number of opportunities del Bosque’s side had. However, they lacked a goal threat of their own, and then Spain were the better side in extra time. Read more »