Saturday, 9 June 2012

Analysis of Germany 1-0 Portugal

Germany started in a 4-2-3-1 with Khedira and Schweinsteiger as the two midfielders. Podolski and Muller played in the wide positions with Ozil behind Gomez in the middle.

Portugal went with a 4-3-3 with Veloso, Meireles and Moutinho in midfield, Ronaldo and Nani looking to penetrate in the wide areas and Postiga playing up front.



FIRST HALF

The two sides came out with different game plans set by their managers. Germany were the side looking to dominate possession. Both of their centre backs were comfortable moving forward with the ball and with Portugal only generally pressing the centre backs with one player (Postiga), Germany were able to switch it to the spare centre back if pressure was applied. From there, the free centre back would look for the forward pass to Ozil or if not, the wingers or full backs.

Portugal were playing a medium block, reliant on the work rate of the midfield three to press and cover. This made it hard for Germany to pass through the middle, particularly with their slow, methodical transitions. Germany were trying to entice Portugal's midfield out to leave space between the lines for quick combinations but most of their threat came from wide crosses, particularly from the right, to take advantage of Gomez's ability in the air. This was evident even after a minute of the game. However, Portugal still made it difficult for them to penetrate, even when space was created from a quick switch of play or combinations.

Having said that, Portugal's attacking play was also poor. They were particularly looking to take advantage of quick transitions and allow Nani or Ronaldo the opportunity to get 1v1 against the full backs on the counter. This was shown in the 17th minute when Coentrao quickly played it down the line to Ronaldo to run at Boateng and send in a dangerous cross from the left.

However these were few and far between - Germany were pressing high after losing the ball which limited Portugal's quick transitions. When Portugal went long for Postiga, they didn't win enough in the air and Germany often won the second ball, making it difficult for Portugal to build any pressure.

It was however Portugal who had the best chance of the half when Pepe got free from a corner and shot onto the bar where the ball then bounced dead on the line and away.

SECOND HALF

Germany started the second half quickly when Muller got free from a throw in and sent in a low cross from near the byline where Portugal managed to get enough men in the way to block the German shots.

Portugal themselves started to get a bit more possession at the back and looked to take advantage of their strength in the wide areas with long switches of play from Bruno Alves to Nani which allowed them to bypass the midfield and get a 1v1 on the right or with quick transitions to allow Ronaldo to get 1v1 on the other side. The first two times they did this in the second half, two corners were won.

Germany also looked to get 1v1s, particularly on the right with Muller. They, however, did this a different way. Because Ronaldo was staying fairly high up on the left, it was often down to Portugal's midfield three to get across to that side and help Coentrao at left back. What Germany did was to stick to their possession game, enticing the Portuguese middle three higher and then playing it into the space on the right for Muller to get a 1v1 against Coentrao, often assisted by Ozil moving to link up on that side or even Khedira or Schweinsteiger coming across.

This proved to be the biggest threat for Germany, with Muller sending in seven crosses from that side, often near the byline which made it more dangerous for the Portuguese defence.

However, it was a deflected cross from Khedira which got Germany the goal, with a great header from the Gomez across the goalkeeper.

This meant Portugal had to be more aggressive in attack. The quick transitions still proved their biggest threat though. Before the Germany goal, Portugal had created one situation on the counter attack with Moutinho finding Ronaldo on the inside left channel but the right back Boateng got back just in time to make the tackle. After the goal it was still that same threat.

First Ronaldo got played in early and, 1v1 with Boateng, turned inside and had a shot which was saved. Then moments later, he again ran at Boateng and pulled it back to Coentrao whose deflected shot went over.

Germany were now being pushed back more and started playing a more deeper, compact block. Portugal's best chance came when a ball was played over the top for the substitute Oliveira, who held it up well in the area and then played it across to another substitute in Varela, whose shot was well blocked by Neuer in goal.

Their last chance came from an Alves header from a corner but it went over and Germany took the victory to get their EURO 2012 campaign underway.

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