ZM’s team of Euro 2012

July 4, 2012
ZM’s team of Euro 2012

ZM’s team of Euro 2012…

Iker Casillas, Spain

This wasn’t a tournament of particularly fine individual goalkeeping displays, but the best two goalkeepers of the tournament – and of the century – met as captains in the final. Until the, there was nothing to separate Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon, but after Casillas made a fine save from Di Natale and prompted Spain’s second goal with a good ball out to Alba, he must get the nod.

Joao Pereira, Portugal

The position of right-back had plenty of good performers, but for the second tournament running, Portugal’s defence was extremely impressive. Pereira was a key part of that – he tackled tenaciously and attacked purposefully down the flank. Portugal conceded four goals in the competition, and none originated from Pereira’s wing. Read more »

Spain 4-0 Italy: Spain win Euro 2012

July 2, 2012
Spain 4-0 Italy: Spain win Euro 2012

Spain produced by far their best performance of Euro 2012, and won the final with ease.

Both teams were as expected. Vicente del Bosque made a single change – Cesc Fabregas returned upfront in place of Alvaro Negredo.

Cesare Prandelli also made one change, bringing back Ignazio Abate at right-back, with Federico Balzaretti dropping to the bench. Giorgio Chiellini continued at left-back, although didn’t last long before Balzaretti replaced him.

Spain were the better side by a considerable distance. They didn’t settle for mere dominance of possession, and instead attacked with speed and determination to produce a wonderful display of football. Read more »

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 »