Yesterday’s Group B (Group of Death) matches were desultory and disappointing. Two 1-0 results–Denmark upsetting the Dutch, and the Germans ultimately dispatching the Portuguese.
On to Group C. Probably the marquee matchup out of all the 1st set of group matches is Italy vs Spain–the I and S in PIGS. No doubt the Italian and Spanish will put aside worries about the Eurozone crisis on this Sunday to focus on the Euro (or maybe not*).
We probably won’t watch Ireland-Croatia (though let’s note that throwing Ireland into the mix yields PIIGS–all of which will have played after today).
|Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN) – Stadium: Arena Gdansk, Gdansk (POL)|
|Republic of Ireland||Croatia|
|Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED) – Stadium: Municipal Stadium Poznan, Poznan (POL)|
And now for your daily roundup of random links and observations:
- Zonal Marking’s analyses of yesterday’s matches:
- Germany 1-0 Portugal: Gomez gets the nod upfront, and nods in the only goal (“This wasn’t a complex match. Portugal started the game playing reactively, Germany were patient in the number of players they pushed forward. Only Özil’s movement, and his battle with Miguel Veloso, provided tactical interest.”)
- Denmark 1-0 Holland: Krohn-Dehli goal provides the first surprise of the tournament (“Denmark didn’t play superbly, and Holland didn’t play badly. This result came down to finishing – Holland created some excellent opportunities, mainly through Sneijder, which were wasted. Denmark’s defence kept a clean sheet, but had van Persie brought his Arsenal form to this match, the Danes would have been criticised for being extremely open without the ball. That said, Denmark adjusted well to the situation. They cooled the tempo, held onto the ball, defended in greater numbers and frustrated Holland. The group of death now looks even deadlier.”)
- Note that in the two analyses ZM makes similar and interesting use of “chalkboards” (match data visualizations created using FourFourTwo’s StatZone app). He looks at data of the two key creative midfielders in these two matches: Wesley Sneijder’s passes received and chances created, and Mesut Özil’s passes received and given. In both writeups he focuses on these two players as the key tactical takeaway of their respective matches.
- However, perennial contrarian @trunchfiddle writes in: “Sneijder didn’t look all that great. He looked more alive when he moved left after the Hunter came on (and Afellay came off). He did have one nice run at goal for a header he would never in a million years finish, and a really great pass to Hunt toward the end of the match, but look at his passes in that article to Afellay – 19 “successful” passes on the left touchline 45 yards from goal. He didn’t split the defense or break anything down that I can rememebr except once. And for 15 minutes before the changes at the 75th minute he looked to be either completely exhausted or just mopping around in the center of the field.”
- Another tactical analysis of the Holland-Denmark match on a Dutch/tactics blog: Holland 0 – 1 Denmark: Dominating chances, but losing the game | 11tegen11
- Harsh words re Portugal from the Guardian’s Richard Williams: Not even Cristiano Ronaldo can inspire this Portugal side
- Worth listening to yesterday’s edition of the @acjimbo-hosted Euro 2012 Football Daily: Denmark and Germany take first blood in group of death. After some in-studio discussion of Netherlands-Denmark (the tagline for Wednesday’s Germany-Netherlands death match: Lviv or Let Die), Raphael @Honigstein calls in from Warsaw to discuss the Germans. (Actually he’s also got a piece up in SI re the other match: Afterwards, there’s an excellent preview of Italy-Spain, with @JamesHorncastle commenting on Prandelli’s tactical dilemma–stick with his preferred 4-3-1-2 or switch to a Juve-style 3-5-2? Devolve to the traditional Italian catennacio, or push ahead with his “new Italy”? For more see this piece on his site: Should Italy play 3-5-2 at Euro 2012? | James Horncastle (“[Prandelli] has sought to replace the tradition of defensive, counter-attacking, opportunistic football with an attractive possession oriented game based around a 4-3-1-2 and a ‘rotating midfield square’ in which players with piedi buoni interchange positions so as not to give their opponents any reference points. It has yielded positive results. Italy held Germany to a draw and beat Spain in friendlies while also qualifying comfortably for Euro 2012.”
So, transitioning to stuff about today’s matches:
- Another one by Michael Cox, this time for ESPN: Three greats together for first time | ESPNFC.com: “In Gdansk on Sunday, the three amigos – Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and Andrea Pirlo – will be together on the pitch for the first time. Spain’s clash with Italy, the opening game of Group C, will feature the three most prolific passers in European football.”
- Prandelli’s pregame thoughts as quoted in La Gazetta: Prandelli: “Spain are favourites, But we’ll beat the pessimism” | La Gazzetta dello Sport (“Spain? They have a different way of understanding football. We can get there through our play. But the Spaniards seem happier to play football.”)
- Even Spanish football expert Sid Lowe (@SidLowe) takes the Prandelli angle wrt to today’s match: Italy’s Cesare Prandelli ready to spring a surprise
- Ok, a couple things about Ireland-Croatia. A piece about Ireland and their (old-school) Italian manager, Il Trap: Ageless Giovanni Trapattoni gives Republic of Ireland hope
- And another one about Croatia’s manager–this tournament being his swan song, before he heads for colder (but no doubt more lucrative) pastures–in Moscow: Slaven Bilic seeking one last hurrah from Croatia
..and finally a disquieting piece by the Guardian’s chief football writer Daniel Taylor (@dtguardian): Football’s dark side casts ominous shadows on the streets of Krakow
*The Eurozone crisis headlines this morning: “The European Union announced a €100 billion bailout of the Spanish banking system today that could be a watershed moment in the evolution of the eurozone into a more workable system.”