1996 European Championships
Group A – Match Round 1
Holland 0 – 0 Scotland
Villa Park, Birmingham
Monday 10th June 1996
By Alistair Bain (@allybain)
To give us some context on the data here is a quick overview of each team:
Holland Attacking Structure
- Holland’s system of play was a 343 diamond system, which utilized short build up play to move the ball into the inside channels of the midfield, and then penetrative passes were played into the striker or wingers depending on where the opposition back line moved to.
- Bogarde & Reiziger were tasked with building play, specifically making entry passes into the edge’s of the diamond (de Boer or Witschge) or indeed Seedorf who was acting as a dynamic attacking midfielder.
- Cryuff and Taument always maintained their positions out wide, fully stretching the final third space by standing out on the touch lines. When they did receive the ball they would instantly look to attack their opponent in a 1v1 battle to where the best space was (either inside or toward the end line).
- Davids acted as a pivot infront of the back line, and set the tempo of the game by making quick switch passes when required.
- Bergkamp stood high on the last line of defence, but would find space by drifting wide to pick up the ball and link with the wingers.
Scotland Attacking Structure
- Scotland would begin with a 442 shape, that relied very heavily on their ability to defend deep and then transition forward.
- Collins starting/defending position was in wide areas, however he would frequently move inside to form a midfield 3 with McCall & McAllister where possible.
- Booth would support Collins by pulling wide on occasions, attempting to find space at the side of the Dutch back three.
- Durie performed a linking role, moving into midfield to the spaces either side of Davids predominantly, with a view to layering the counter attack and give more time to supporting runs.
- Gallacher moved between winger & inside forward roles in the game, but largely would attack the back post versus offer anything creative on the dribble.
- Neither full back really posed any attacking threat in the match, serving a very simple defensive role.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS TELL US?
Value of Chances
With Holland controlling much of the possession it was clear that they were effective in turning this control into attacks, however what was impressive was how relentless Holland were in their search for a goal. Despite the short period at the end of the first half/start of the second half Holland’s attacking intent would increase throughout the game, and while we can debate the quality of their efforts, they didn’t allow Scotland any real threat in return.
Scotland’s first half was better than their second, however given their limitations offensively and their lack of protection in transition, they can be very very happy to have left this game with a point.
This is where the cracks start to appear in Holland’s case to say this result was unjust, as on the one hand there are lots of attacks overall, 21 in total, and chances that were of quality, 3 big chances throughout the match, yet there were also lots of speculative efforts that didn’t actually test Andy Goram in the Scotland goal.
Scotland would fail to register a chance in the final 30 minutes of the game, such was the task they had in preventing Holland from breaking the deadlock. From the efforts they did have on goal only 1 would significantly impact their expected goals, a McAllister effort inside the box in the 1st half, but moving forward they will need to pose more of a threat in front of goal to substantiate any motion to qualify out of this group.
Type of Chances Created
Right from the outset we can see that Holland’s key pass locations were from a position of authority, central locations that quite often penetrated the box, but also from wide areas where a variety of crossing locations & supporting runs could be met. Virtually all of their chance creation comes from within Scotland’s final third, which speaks further to their patient and methodical approach to their build up play. Holland would have a blend of 8 counter attacks and 4 Build up attacks, which shows how well Holland used the space centrally to orchestrate attacks, but also to press Scotland should they turn over the ball, and quickly establish a secondary attack on their opponents. One of the criticisms of a diamond midfield is the lack of space it can attract through the pressing actions of an opponent, however we found that Holland’s most commonly used method to create a shot was a switch of play, which speaks to their well positioned attack, with them overloading on one side to draw Scotland over, but then quickly switching the ball to fire a shot from the opposite side.
It’s no surprise that all 6 of Scotland’s open play attacks came from counter attacks, as this allowed them to progress quickly into any spaces that Holland may have left open for them without having to manipulate the ball too much. Scotland progressed the ball with relative ease in certain sections of the game, however the balance between defending and attacking wasn’t found, therefore they will require another method of attack play to get anything else from their remaining games. What was interesting was they’d connected with only 1 attack from a through pass and zero connections via a cross. They will be looking to penetrate the England back line more effectively, in the next match, especially given their main forward, Gordon Durie, can excel in both of those scenarios.
Where Chances are Created
This is where things become really interesting for me. So lets state that Holland did attack well in the match, you’d rather have the chances on the board than not. They would create three big chances, 9 attacks inside the golden zone (within the central portion of the 18 yard box), and numerous double digit xG rated attacks. With that said the realities of their stats are that only 3 of their 21 shots would test the gloves of Andy Goram. Further to this, from their 2.15 xG only 18% would come from chances that actually hit the target. Whats even more surprising is that Scotland would record one more attack on target than Holland (4 on target vs 3), in a match that saw them outgunned 21 attacks to 8 overall.
Who Created Chances
Holland’s best statistical attacker was Clarence Seedorf, a player who would have 6 attacks of his own and create a further one for a teammate. With this considered his potency was more through threat than actual damage, as only 1 of these attacks would actually hit the target. He’ll be hoping for a better output in the next game, but he returned an xG rating of 0.69 (69% chance of scoring).
Scotland’s best attacker was by some distance Gary McAllister. He would register 4 attacks on goal, with 3 hitting the target, along with another chance that he would create for a teammate. His xG rating would come in a 0.37 for the match, which is over half of his teams xG output.
Using our very own Retro Football Analysis Match Simulator, we use the probability rating of each attack to calculate the odds of the matches outcome. Here are the results we got back.
No real surprises in this one at all. Holland simply didn’t perform in front of goal as they would have hoped, which worked out for Scotland today and they get a deserved point, but over a prolonged period of time its clear who would come out on top.