Spain 2-0 France: Blanc’s double right-back plan fails and Alonso deservedly scores both goals

June 24, 2012


“Laurent Blanc named an extremely reactive team – but France neither stifled Spain’s threat down the left, nor played their own game effectively. Vicente del Bosque had hinted he would make changes from the team that beat Croatia, though it was still a surprise to see Cesc Fabregas return to the side in a false nine role, meaning Spain played the XI that started against Italy in the opening game – an experiment that didn’t go well.” Zonal Marking

Three thoughts on Spain-France
“1. Laurent Blanc’s tactical gamble backfired — As a coach who spent a year playing for Barcelona — he would often talk tactics with Jose Mourinho, then on the coaching staff, as well as teammates Pep Guardiola and Luis Figo — Laurent Blanc has made no secret of his admiration for Spain’s style of play. He talked of wanting France to play like the reigning champion, and was happy to pick technical players — like Samir Nasri, Marvin Martin, Jeremy Menez and Mathieu Valbuena — over physical ones; he wanted his defenders to start attacks and his forwards to play a fast-passing game.” SI

Spain still the team to beat
“Legendary French icon Zinedine Zidane turned 40 on Saturday. He celebrated with an appearance on French radio in which he made a birthday wish that France would play with ambition. ‘We’ve got the players, we’ve got the manager,’ he declared. ‘What we need is some folie [madness].’ Not all birthday wishes come true. What Zidane received was a lineup that L’Equipe described as ‘ultra-defensive.’ Manager Laurent Blanc used five midfielders, one of whom, Mathieu Debuchy, is a right back. Samir Nasri, rumored to be at the center of the team’s Gallic midweek bickering, was relegated to the bench.” ESPN (Video)

Euro 2012: Xabi Alonso strikes at double for Spain to knock out France
“One hundred caps, two goals and victory against France for the first time in Spain’s history. There was also revenge for the last time they were knocked out of a major tournament, six long years ago. Xabi Alonso was on the losing side that night in Hanover. Everything has changed since them; Spain have gone from habitual failures to perpetual winners. And, ultimately, they were comfortable winners here, France were simply unable to truly trouble them. Alonso controlled much of this game. He decided it too.” Guardian

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Memorization killed chess—is football the next victim?

June 24, 2012

“Jonathan Wilson wrote a short but intriguing article just over a week ago for the New Statesman (of all publications). On initial reading, it appears to cover familiar ground for an unfamiliar audience. With the infamous 6-3 victory by Hungary over England in 1953 as its fulcrum, Wilson argues that international football was once a festival of contrasting styles, approaches and national visions of the ‘Beautiful Game’.” The Score (Video)


Interview with Simon Kuper, author of Soccernomics

June 24, 2012

“In this special podcast recorded for Forza Futbol, we have Simon Kuper, author of the recently published Soccernomics 2nd edition. Simon is also the author of “Football Against the Enemy”, “Ajax, the Dutch, the War” among others. Simon writes a weekly column in Financial Times. Simon joined me from Ukraine to answer a few questions about the Soccernomics second edition, state of Soccer analytics, Soccer in USA and some current topics like the new Premier League TV deal.” OnFooty (Video)