Germany 2-1 Holland: German flexibility outwits the static Dutch midfield

June 14, 2012
Germany 2-1 Holland: German flexibility outwits the static Dutch midfield

The second excellent Group B game of the night, and another encounter decided by superiority in one particular zone.

Jogi Löw continued with the same starting XI that defeated Portugal on Saturday.

Despite widespread predictions that Holland would change at least one of their front four, Bert van Marwijk’s selection featured only one change, with Ron Vlaar dropping out of the side now Joris Mathijsen was fit to start. Clearly, van Marwijk believed that the majority of Holland’s play against Denmark was good – it was just the finishing that let them down.

Germany were much the better side here – they were more comfortable on the ball, their movement was better and they played at a quicker tempo. It was something of a surprise to see them hanging on towards the end of the game, having been so superior in the first half. Read more »

Portugal 3-2 Denmark: No tracking from Ronaldo and Rommedahl means goals come from that flank

June 13, 2012
Portugal 3-2 Denmark: No tracking from Ronaldo and Rommedahl means goals come from that flank

Silvestre Varela grabbed a late winner as Portugal registered their first win of Euro 2012.

Paulo Bento named an unchanged side from the team that lost to Germany – Helder Postiga continued upfront, despite Nelson Oliveira’s positive impact from the bench in the opening game.

Morten Olsen also made no changes from Denmark’s surprise 1-0 win over Holland.

Think of Portugal and Denmark – not just the current sides, but their style over the course of the century so far – and you think of width. That was the main story here, with little happening in the centre of midfield, and all the attacking thrust coming from the flanks. Read more »

Poland 1-1 Russia: Poland beef up their midfield and prevent Russia counter-attacking

June 13, 2012
Poland 1-1 Russia: Poland beef up their midfield and prevent Russia counter-attacking

Neither side played particularly open football – but strangely, this turned out to be a very good contest.

Wojciech Szczesny was suspended, so Franciszek Smuda continued with Przemyslaw Tyton, the hero of the first game, in goal. More interestingly, he changed the structure of his side, moving to more of a 4-1-4-1 formation, dropping left-winger Maciej Rybus in favour of a solid holder, Dariusz Dudka. Ludovic Obraniak moved to the left.

Dick Advocaat continued with the XI that hit four goals in Russia’s opening day win over the Czech Republic. Aleksandr Kerzhakov retained his place upfront despite Roman Pavlyuchenko’s impact from the bench – Kerzhakov’s finishing had been wayward, but his movement and link-up play was excellent, and he deserved his place here.

Neither side took the initiative and both looked to prevent the other counter-attacking. Smuda was reactive with his approach and fairly negative, but his tactics worked well. Read more »

Czech Republic 2-1 Greece: Greece vulnerable down their left again

June 12, 2012
Czech Republic 2-1 Greece: Greece vulnerable down their left again

The Czech Republic had a very good first ten minutes, and that was enough to put themselves in a commanding position.

Both coaches made changes to their starting line-ups, moving their XI closer to the side that finished their opening matches. Michal Bilek started holding midfielder Tomas Hubschman, with Petr Jiracek on the left of midfield. At the back, Michael Kadlec moved into the middle from the left-back position he looked uncomfortable in against Russia, so David Limbersky came into the side at left-back.

Fernando Santos went with the forward trio that ended the 1-1 draw against Poland, so Giorgos Samaras started in the centre, with Dimitris Salpingidis on the right, and Kostas Fortounis deeper on the left. Santos was without both first-choice centre-backs, so Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Kostas Katsouranis played there, with Giorgos Fotakis starting in the centre of midfield.

This wasn’t a high quality match – the Czech Republic raced into a 2-0 lead and then sat back, preserving their lead, conserving their energy. Like in the first game, Greece improved after half-time, but were still disappointingly tame in the final third. Read more »