Daily Archives: June 11, 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.” Zonal Marking

Three thoughts: Spain’s striker-less attack cost them vs. Italy in draw
“1. Spain’s striker-less attack: Spain’s system, a 4-3-3-0, was the most radical seen in a major international football tournament for decades. Usually the international game, because of the lack of time the players have to work together, lags way behind the club game, but this placed Vicente Del Bosque firmly in the avant-garde. Unusual systems that have been termed “strikerless” at least have a forward — a Francesco Totti, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi — to drop back and create space for runners from deep while still getting forward to score goals themselves. But Spain’s shape, with Andres Inietsa, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva across the nominal forward line had three players who have spent most of the season operating as orthodox attacking midfielders.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

Tactics key in Italy-Spain draw
“A mouthwatering matchup between the past two World Cup winners became all the more engrossing as both managers made brave tactical decisions ahead of the game. After a 1-1 tie, one man, Italy’s Cesare Prandelli was left seeming bold. The other, Spain’s Vicente del Bosque, appeared more desperate. The decisions were different responses to a similar problem — the lack of the team’s best-fit striker. Spain’s David Villa was unable to recover from the broken leg sustained at the Club World Cup last December. Italy’s Giuseppe Rossi has been a long-term absence after suffering a double ACL tear.” ESPN (Video)

Euro 2012: Spain v Italy – as it happened
“In the end, a draw is probably the right result and both teams will perhaps be as disappointed as they are satisfied with a point. Italy had the better chances and played in an engaging fashion for much of the game, while Spain’s strikerless formation left much to be desired. But Spain’s response once behind was excellent and a fine goal from Cesc Fabregas got them out of jail; from there, they could and would have won it if Fernando Torres hadn’t been Fernando Torres. Overall another entertaining match in what is becoming a very entertaining tournament, but Spain can produce so much more than they managed in the first half, as indeed they showed in the second half. In the end, I just about forgive them for that ridiculous starting line-up.” Guardian

Rapid Reaction — Spain vs. Italy
“There was elation for Antonio Di Natale, vindication for Cesc Fabregas, and more misery for Fernando Torres. Add it all up, and it made for an action-packed 1-1 tie between Spain and Italy in the Euro 2012 opener for both sides. Italy had broken on top in the 61st minute, when Di Natale ran onto a gorgeous through ball from Andrea Pirlo and coolly finished past Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas. But three minutes later, Fabregas hammered his shot past Gianluigi Buffon after taking a deft pass from David Silva.” ESPN (Video)

Spain, Italy draw in Group C
“For Spain, a tie counted as a bit of a stumble. For Italy, a bit of a reprieve. Opening their bid for a third straight major title, the Spanish rallied to earn a 1-1 tie Sunday against Italy, which entered this year’s European Championship amid another match-fixing scandal. Antonio Di Natale put Italy in front after an excellent setup from Andrea Pirlo in the 61st minute, but Cesc Fabregas tied it for the defending champions three minutes later by finishing off a dazzling display of Spain’s trademark passing game.” SI

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.” Zonal Marking

Three thoughts: Hard-hitting Jelavic helps Croatia upend Ireland
“1. Croatia doesn’t miss Ivica Olic: When Ivica Olic returned from injury to play in the playoff games against Turkey last November, he came as a revelation. He is not as technically gifted a player as some of those Slaven Bilic has to choose from, but he has an energy and a muscularity that drives back opposing defences giving the more skilful midfielders space in which to play. Turkey couldn’t cope with him and Croatia, finding the sort of rhythm they hadn’t shown in over three years, swept to a 3-0 victory in Istanbul, taking an early lead and picking Turkey off on the break.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

No luck for the Irish
“Despite being considered a significant second fiddle to Spain and Italy’s cagey, engaging midday draw, we should have seen this coming. Group C was already pressurized given the four teams pitted against one another, yet that pressure increased thanks to the 1-1 result in Gdansk between the presumptive favorites to advance. (That, plus the tension accompanying overnight reports of fighting between fans that resulted in 14 arrested.)” ESPN (Video)

Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary, Gdansk, June 10

“It was always a little premature to hail Denmark’s victory over Holland’s as proof of a new defensive mood enveloping the European game. First Chelsea win the Champions League, then Denmark provide the tournament’s first shock by keeping a clean sheet against much-fancied Holland.” World Soccer

The history of the European Championship

“The European Championship in Poland and Ukraine will be the 14th time that the competition has been held. It was the brainchild of Henri Delaunay, the secretary of the French Football Federation, who first came up with the idea of a continental competition in 1927. At first he had little support and it did not start until 1960. Until 1980 only four teams went through to the final stages, but it is now a 16-team competition and one of the major events on the football calendar. All 13 of the previous tournaments have provided memorable moments – and BBC Sport profiles them all ahead of this year’s competition.” BBC