1996 European Championships
Group B – Match Round 1
Romania 0 – 1 France
St James’ Park, Newcastle
Monday 10th June 1996
By Alistair Bain (@allybain)
To give us some context on the data here is a quick overview of each team:
France Attacking Structure
- France’s full backs both supported the play, with Di Meco making more offensive runs on the overlap and Thuram taking up a deeper wide position & offering to switch play through the center mids.
- Deschamps worked as the anchor in midfield, but was often missed out in the building phase, with Zidane & Djorkaeff taking up advanced midfield positions and working between the lines.
- Guerin & Karembeu roles were interesting, as in some phases they would shuttle forward like a traditional winger, but in others they would move inside like a central/attacking midfielder.
- Dugarry movement was impressive, working to run into channels, show for the ball & challenge for the ball in the air. Overall a good foil for the likes of Zidane & Djorkaeff to work from.
Romania Attacking Structure
- Romania started the match in an asymmetrical 433 shape, which was predicated around the positioning of Hagi’s free role.
- Munteanu defensive role was to man mark Karembeu, however he also served as an effective wide left player, overlapping the central movements of Hagi to provide width.
- Lacatus did well to manage the inside/outside right balance with Petrescu, who was an able assistant moving forward from full back.
- Popescu marshalled the back line and worked with Lupescu to switch play keep possession moving.
- Hagi’s quality between the lines was evident, as was his willingness to dribble forward between the inside channels and shoot from distance.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS TELL US?
Value of Chances
Despite France lagging behind Romania for the first 55 minutes they were by far the more consistent of the attacking sides. Karembeu’s chance on 55 minutes saw the tides turn in chance creation quality, however France kept moving forward in search of a second which, unfortunately for them, would elude them. Romania will no doubt be disappointed with their 2nd half display, as the attack frequency doesn’t look like a team who is going all out to grab an equalizer.
France overall output from their attack play & chance creation (1 goal vs 1.07 expected goals) shows us that they performed as expected and can be happy with their goal, given how unlikely the chance was when it arrived. They wouldn’t create any big chances in the match, and their biggest xG rated attack would be 0.28 from a corner (Djorkaeff to Karembeu) so all in all I’m sure they will be happy with the three points and something to build on.
Romania will be less impressed with this display overall, as they were unable to break the 1 goal barrier in either actual goals or expected goals from their 13 attacks. One slight uptick was that 50% of their xG did at least hit the target, so there is something to hold onto, but for sure they will be looking at ways in which they can penetrate the oppositions final third more effectively in the next match to create chances of higher probability.
Type of Chances Created
Both teams were careful in possession, favoring a slower build up through the thirds and switching play to try and find space on the weak side. The differences in the game lay in how each team attacked when entering the final third.
Romania were very quick to shoot when they advanced forward, primarily from Hagi who had license to strike from pretty much wherever he wanted to. Additionally there were lots of fast movements as the ball entered the final third, with their use of combination play best illustrated by the understanding between Lacatus and Hagi. They will no doubt require more from Radiciou in the next match, who by all accounts had a very quiet game. There was a decent mix of build up and counter attacks from Romania, many of which originating on the right and shifting over to the left. Free kick attacks are favored with Hagi in the team, given his prowess from these situations, so essentially these are shooting opportunities from wherever they take place.
France relied on Dugarry to provide a target man role, but not necessarily in the traditional sense. He would move off the ball, typically pulling wide and into the channels, with balls into him instantly met with support from Djorkaeff or Zidane who’s attack play came from deep. Deschamps and Guerin were excellent at breaking up play & advancing forward, which is better illustrated in the amount of counter attacks that France would create their chances from. France key passes had a nice variety, with 3 crosses, 3 short passes and 2 through balls being the more prominent exponents of creativity.
Where Chances are Created
With both teams creating a similar amount of attacks, I think both will be looking to improve their chance creation inside the box in the next match. Both had a decent amount of speculative efforts from distance, albeit both have set piece specialists in their ranks (Romania with Hagi, France with Zidane & Djorkaeff). With only 1 attack in the Golden zone from open play (central area of the 18 yard box) it shows us that both teams did well to stifle each others attacks, with that said both will require more from their central strikers, given how reliant both are on building the ball forward progressively and neither side really having any penetrative runners that stretch the play in behind.
Who Created Chances
Romania’s best statistical attacker in the match was captain Gheorghe Hagi, but with that comes a caveat. His numbers show us he was involved in 9 attacks (6 in which he shot himself and 3 he assisted) returning an expected goals value of 0.43 (43% chance of scoring), which on the surface appears well placed to be a solid performance. Now comes the caveat, only 1 of these attacks came from inside the box, and during these passages of play it was clear in many of them that there were better solutions available. We’ll see if this is a one off or perhaps something more deeper lying in the psyche of Romania & how much control Hagi has over the team.
France’s best statistical attacker would be Youri Djorkaeff. He had 3 attacks of his own, all of which were on target, and would create a further 5 attacks for his teammates, one of which being the cross from which Dugarry netted the opener. He offers a nice blend of creativity and threat in the final third, and will no doubt continue to play an important role for France for the remainder.
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.
Even with Romania scoring a higher xGOT (Expected goals on target) and a marginal difference in expected goals rating overall, France coming top of the predictor also charts is probably best explained by where the chances came from. With France having 10 open play attacks to Romania’s 8, you then add to this France recorded a higher expected goals from set plays, despite having less of them, you soon see that France’s overall threat was higher than that of Romania. This was a close encounter, and shows us that both teams still have a strong chance of qualifying despite the end result.