Now that EURO 2016 is over and completed and Portugal bask in the glow of their first major tournament win, debates and discussions will continue on for some time regarding what we saw and opinions given, based on the quality of the football  and stories that emerged from the games.

There is no doubt the new format of having 24 teams, increased from 16, gave rise to concerns regarding the quality. However, the competition allowed 'lesser' teams ( and I use that word purely to describe maybe how these teams were perceived PRIOR to the tournament) the opportunity to compete.

One of my concerns re this new format was the fact that allowing teams who would finish 3rd in their group of 4, the opportunity to progress to the knock out stages, meant that drawing games, rather than attempting to win games would be rewarded which I believed lead to some very ordinary games. However on the flip side, seeing teams such as Iceland, Wales, Ireland and Albania not only competing with Europe's elite but in some cases, beating them, shows that the gap now at the highest level is closing and the so called 'under dogs' can be rewarded- ie Leicester City!!! In other words you do not have to have a blueprint of Barcelona like tactics based around possession to win games .

Even though I was travelling through the UK and Spain and coaching the Docceroos at the World Medical Football Championships in Barcelona, at the time of the knock out stages of the tournament, I still managed to document and record the information to continue my statistical analysis of the goals scored at EURO 2016. Whatever games I did actually miss or felt I was not in a position to fully study the action, I had recorded them back here in Australia, so on my return here earlier this week, I have managed to complete my findings having viewed the appropriate footage from all games.

The analysis of goals scored follows my normal pattern of attempting to establish the dominant PATTERN of PLAY leading up to the particular goal scored, from the moment when possession of the ball is won. It is important to remember that each study establishes it's own template based on the authors definition, which due to the subjectivity of our code, can vary. For example, what is a diagonal ball in some coaches opinion could be deemed to be a cross for others. It is also apparent, whilst attempting such a study, to come across goals that may contain more than one actual PATTERN of PLAY- for example the ball may be won by a team who then play a magnificient diagonal ball to a wide player who then crosses to the goalscorer. Was it the Diagonal Ball or Cross that set up that particular goal?? A power point presentation of my findings will be shown at a future AFCAT workshop for some of these anomalies to be possibly discussed.

EURO 2016 GOALS ANALYSIS

51 GAMES  108 GOALS    Average per game 2.11 GOALS

SET PLAYS                                                                 27 GOALS         25.0%

( Penalties 8, Corners 7, Free Kicks 6, Direct Free Kicks 4, Throw Ins 2)

CROSSES                                                                   20 GOALS         18.7%

COUNTER ATTACKS                                             13 GOALS          12.0%

THRU/ DIAGONAL BALLS                                  13 GOALS          12.0%

INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE                                  8 GOALS            7.4%

COMBINATION PLAY                                            8 GOALS            7.4%

LONG RANGE SHOTS                                           7 GOALS             6.5%

CUT BACKS                                                              4 GOALS             3.7%

OWN GOALS ( CROSSES)                                    3 GOALS             2.8%

DEFENSIVE MISTAKES                                       2 GOALS            1.8%

REBOUNDS/ DEFLECTIONS/ SHOT??           3 GOALS            2.8%   ( 1 in each category).

THOUGHTS? DISCUSSION? OBSERVATIONS ?

From my point of view, here are a few comments from  observations from these EUROS, which  continue to confirm parts of my coaching philosophy

  1. CROSSES continue to be one of the main reasons why goals are scored at the elite level and failure to practice sessions regular at training to encourage players to perfect the decision making and technical ability to execute this action, will be detrimental to the team and individual players. It was also apparent, at these championships, that crosses were delivered with the 'wrong foot'. By that, I mean left footers, playing on the right side delivered crosses that were in swinging and similar on the other side . As teams become more defensively organised and compact and 'parking the bus' becomes part of a defences tactics, with space limited centrally, then going wide and developing tactically and technically the ability to deliver crosses will reap benefits.
  2. It was also interesting to look at the fact that the 3 OWN GOALS scored were all results of CROSSES whipped in to defenders facing towards their own goal who unfortunately, under pressure from opponents, deflected into their own net.
  3. SET PLAYS- Crucial. Teams must find time to practice these both from an ATTACKING and DEFENSIVE point of view. Pre season is the best time to do this when conditions are more suitable for 'standing around'. Coaches must also find creative ways to incorporate their practice within a training session.However, points must be re emphasised weekly, players need to regularly practice the delivery and movements in and around the box. I would also suggest you allow the players to come up with their own ideas and give them some ownership of the process. At these championships it was also apparent that the team scoring first in MOST cases went on to win the game and a high number of these first goals in games came from SET PLAYS so are you allowing time at training for this?. Are you also offering your defenders the opportunity to attack the ball with their heads from corners and free kicks? Have you got a long throw specialist like Iceland?
  4.   Statistics, from the UEFA website and others,  show that more teams with dominant possession stats LOST games indicating further the point that POSSESSION is NOT ALWAYS an indication of winning games!!! Iceland v Portugal. 1-1 draw. Both goals from crosses. Portugal failed to win the game even though they had 73% possession. Top 5 teams throughout the tournament with average possession stats per game were GERMANY 63%, SPAIN 61%, ENGLAND 59%, SWITZERLAND 58%, UKRAINE 56%- No sign of PORTUGAL or FRANCE!!!! However when you look at , in my opinion and something I have been saying now for some time, a more important stat such as GOAL ATTEMPTS then the following table makes interesting viewing........
  5. GOAL ATTEMPTS. These are the statistics that should always take preference over possession. The first figure is attempts OFF TARGET, then attempts ON TARGET, attempts BLOCKED with a FINAL figure of total attempts at these EUROS- FRANCE 42-43-36-121: PORTUGAL 49-39-33-121:GERMANY 46-37-25-108: BELGIUM 38-35-25-98: ENGLAND 36-20-27-83.
  6. Pass Completed Statistics- SPAIN 91%: SWITZERLAND 91%: GERMANY 90%: FRANCE 88%; ENGLAND 88%. Again not a good indicator of success.

It is also interesting to look back at my analysis from EURO 2012 and compare with these 2016 results

CROSSES                                                                   22 GOALS         30.3%

THRU/ DIAGONAL BALLS                                   16 GOALS         21.0%

SET PLAYS                                                                14 GOALS          18.4%

There were goals from Counter Attacks in 2012 but not as many as there were in 2016. Looking across all the analysis in the past 12-18 months, Counter Attacks have certainly increased at all major tournaments and in elite leagues of Europe and our very own A League, now becoming an important component of the attacking principles of successful teams. Are you therefore engaging in counter attacking practices at training and coaching your players to identify the key moments in a game when a counter attack is on???

COMPARISONS of GOALS/ GAME RATIOS AT PREVIOUS MAJOR TOURNAMENTS .

EUROS 1992                   1.75 GOALS per GAME

WORLD CUP 1994        2.71

EUROS 1996                   2.10

WORLD CUP 1998        2.70

EUROS 2000                  2.70

WORLD CUP 2002       2.50

EUROS 2004                  2.50

WORLD CUP 2006       2.30

EUROS 2008                 2.50

WORLD CUP 2010       2.30

EUROS 2012                  2.50

WORLD CUP 2014       2.70

EUROS 2016                  2.11

Looking at these stats, this was the lowest goals per game ratio since 1992. I am sure many will have different views as to why this was the case. Was it the format resulting in games where teams were not out to win but rather with a focus to avoid defeat? Were the teams at EURO 2016 better defensively than previous tournaments? Were many of our 'elite strikers' fatigued after a huge year of playing games across so many competitions? It will be interesting to hear from our world experts on this and we will attempt to post on the AFCAT website the findings from the UEFA Technical Study as we did after the 2012 tournament.

 

WHEN WERE THE GOALS SCORED

1-15 minutes             13 Goals

16-30 minutes           8 Goals

31-45 minutes          20 Goals

45 plus                         1 Goal

46-60 minutes         21 Goals

61-75 minutes          15 Goals

76-90 minutes         19 Goals

90 plus                       9 Goals

91-120 minutes        2 Goals

 

OTHER INTERESTING STATS AND OBSERVATIONS FROM EURO 2016

  • PORTUGAL- WITH THREE DRAWS IN THE GROUP STAGES- WENT ON TO WIN THE TOURNAMENT. WITHOUT A WIN IN THE FIRST ROUND OF GAMES.
  • GERMANY HAVE REACHED SEMI FINALS IN THEIR LAST 6 MAJOR TOURNAMENTS.
  • ONLY THREE RED CARDS ISSUED THROUGHOUT THE TOURNAMENT.
  • ICELAND GK- HANNES HALLDORSSON- MADE THE MOST SAVES DURING THE TOURNAMENT.
  • POLAND DID NOT TRAIL FOR A SINGLE MINUTE BUT FOUND THEMSELVES ELIMINATED ON PENALTIES IN THE Q.F. BY PORTUGAL.
  • THE WAY THE ITALIANS SET UP AND PLAYED BEAUTIFULLY WITH A 3-5-2 FORMATION, SUGGEST YOU SHOULD WATCH ANTONIO CONTE'S CHELSEA THIS SEASON IN THE EPL TO SEE IF THIS STYLE IS TO SHOW MORE IN ELITE FOOTBALL TACTICS.
  • WILL WE NOW SEE  TEAMS ATTEMPT TO PLAY LIKE PORTUGAL? I BELIEVE THERE HAS BEEN THIS SEASON ALREADY A MOVE AWAY FROM THE BARCELONA ( TIKI TAKA) STYLE WITH SUCCESSFUL TEAMS AND COACHES  APPLYING MORE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ATTACK and DEFENCE BUT FITTING A PLAYING STYLE AROUND THE PLAYERS AVAILABLE NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND!! OVERALL THEY WERE VERY EFFECTIVE but JUST LIKE GREECE in 2004 THEY HAD THEIR SLICE OF LUCK AND TOOK CHANCES WHEN PRESENTED WITH THEM. AS LES MURRAY HAS STATED ON THE SBS WEBSITE  " EURO 2016 WAS, IN ESSENCE, A VICTORY FOR CAUTIOUS, REACTIVE, COUNTER ATTACKING FOOTBALL.

 

PLEASE NOTE, SOME OF THIS INFORMATION WAS TAKEN FROM THE UEFA WEB SITES and OTHER SITES GOOGLED TO ADD VALUE TO MY OWN MATCH ANALYSIS STATISTICS WHICH WERE PURELY MY OWN OBSERVATIONS.