Euro 2016 : Germany Vs Italy …

Germany vs Italy as part of Euro campaign is the best game in my opinion.  It was a clash of technical superiority vs cleverness. 3-5-2 Vs 3-1-4-2. Of course I agree, formation/design alone doesn’t guarantee results, however, certainly helps.

The Germany–Italy football rivalry between the national football teams of Germany and Italy, two of the most successful football nations in Europe and the world, is a long-running one. Overall, the two teams have won eight FIFA World Cup championships and made a total of fourteen appearances in the final of the tournament – more than all the other European nations combined. While Germany has won more international championships, Italy is largely dominant in the head-to-head international match-up, having beaten Germany 15 times in 33 games, with 10 draws and 8 defeats.


Past  Data : Germany Vs Italy(Euro 2012) :

Germany didn’t have a clear plan to stop Italy in the midfield zone; Pirlo wasn’t picked up effectively, while Montolivo and De Rossi had excellent games. Germany didn’t play to their strengths, nor nullify Italy’s. Italy’s goals were well-worked and expertly finished, but the most impressive part of their display was the defensive side of things. The defence kept a high line in the first half, then defended well inside the box when Germany piled on the pressure. Montolivo’s role was also crucial in stopping Germany building attacks from deep. Tactically the game will be remembered for Low’s tinkering

****Picture from Michael Cox’s Zonal Marking blog….

These data points influences our expectations to Italy winning tonight. However that’s not the case. Data and prediction are both different. Data is one element used to predict the future/outcome and not the only one. This game was an outlier. It proved something else is also important. What’s that ? Let’s see.

Part of football’s enduring fascination is that it is a holistic game, that the slightest change in one part of the field can have unexpected/radical effects elsewhere. Germany had an interesting formation against Italy. It was 3-5-2. To me this is an experiment. Germans are not used to play in this formation. Last Euro they tried, they were beaten down. Italy are known for this formation/style of play. This style of play suits them. Germans usually favor 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2.These are the 2 set of formations which bought them success in world tournaments. This also means, Ozil (natual no 10, play maker) will be a midfielder in the left. Gomez and Meuller will play ahead and Manuel Neur had to be a sweeper when Germany has the ball. On the flanks, Kimmich and Hector roles’ were designed to push the Italian’s wings. A compound of technical excellence, dynamic pace and inspired movement. Wow!!! I learnt that Joachim lowe is a risk taker. Curious ! He built the team on athleticism,tactics and four reference points (ball, space, opponent and pressing). He also proved a point in 120 minutes that pressing in not about running and working hard, but about controlling space.

Italy on the other hand, had all experienced players (from age perspective). The back 3, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini (BBC) are all in the 30s. Forwards Pelle and Eder (were in 30 & 29 respectively). Midfield were naive. This shows Conte formed his team based on experience and did not want to experiment any new comer. Winning over Spain is not the result of tactics, it was pure energy and Spain diffident style of play . I agree, Italy attacking principles were built on a sound defense, but not enough to over German’s efficiency. Adaptability to me is the difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. Italy were right in their design, but were not adaptable.


First 45 minutes :

Much of the pre-match talk focussed on Joachim Low’s decision to match Italy’s formation, changing from their tried and tested set-up to a back three of Howedes, Boateng and Hummels. It was either going to be a stroke of genius or seen as paying Italy too much respect. What it resulted in was either an intriguing tactical battle or a dull stalemate, depending on your view of how the game should be played. If you were after free-flowing football, Bordeaux was not the place to be. Though 0-0 at half-time and very little goalmouth action to write home about (though write I do), it was an intriguing battle between two european heavyweights. It was also perhaps quite telling that Mats Hummels made the most attacking third passes (9/12) in the first 45 as Italy managed to stifle Kroos and Özil.

Mats Hummels: 99/109 successful passes vs. Italy
*****Picture from Statszone blog….

Second 45 minutes : Germany controlled the space and ball possession resulting in Ozil’s goal.

Penalties :

Italy had never lost to Germany in a major tournament. Germany had never lost a penalty shootout. So when the referee blew for full-time in extra-time with the score at 1-1, something had to give.For the first time since 1982, a German missed from the spot in a shootout. Thomas Muller’s miss put an end to a quite remarkable run of 22 consecutive penalties converted.
Seven players failed to convert their spot kicks in a bizarre penalty shoot-out. Every player who played in the premier league last season missed their penalty in the shootout. That’s how I summarize.To me, when it comes to shoot out/  sudden death, there are no tactics/strategy/talks. It just about the player and chance(luck). This doesn’t meant chance is the opposite of skill. It just that players need to manage pressure.
Conte(Italy Manager)  : “Being beaten by Germany on penalties is no shame, as we could’ve gone forward too. I am proud of what these lads did.The world champions changed their system for us and that’s a reason to be proud.”

Joachim Low(Germany’s Manager) insisted his team deserved their win over Italy in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals on Saturday, but feels they should have wrapped it up in normal time.

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