1996 European Championships
Group D – Match Round 2
Czech Republic 2 – 1 Italy
Friday 14th June 1996
By Alistair Bain (@allybain)
To give us some context on the data here is a quick overview of each team:
Italy Attacking Structure
- While Italy have a very clearly defined 442 defensive structure, in attack the movements are far more fluid.
- Full backs on either side are encouraged to attack the flanks with forward runs, thus allowing them to create from wide areas as well as pull pressure away from their wingers.
- Both wingers are encouraged to move into central channels during build up & play between the lines. Additionally they will make diagonal runs centrally to support the strikers & attack from a traditional attack mid position.
- Baggio & Albertini both act as pivot points to switch the ball, but also to create quick counter attacks when possession is won.
Czech Republic Attacking Structure
- Kuka & Poborsky linked more on the right hand side of the field, with lots of direct passes into Kuka from the back line & Poborsky moving wide to stretch the field.
- Berger & Nedved interchanged between central & wide positions, however never fully taking up the width of the field, attacking more from the spaces between Italy’s defensive & midfield lines.
- While Nemec was more of a marking midfielder, Bejbl was given license to press forward & in turn attack forward to support the forwards.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS TELL US?
Value of Chances
As first noted in the opening game, we again see that after Italy’s equalizing goal there was a substantial period of time until their next recorded attack (15 minutes after both goals in previous game). Even though Italy were down to 10 men in the second half it was interesting to note that in the final 20 minutes of a crucial match they recorded only 3 attacks.
Like the Czech’s opening game, we see that they struggled to create chances in the 1st half and saw a sizeable upswing in the 2nd half. The last twenty minutes of the game they did their most damage on the counter, especially with Italy down a man and having to chase to get back into the game.
Italy’s expected goals tally alone shows us that they under performed in this match, we can also see that from the chances they did manage to get on target all were actually fairly low quality efforts. Undoubtedly the biggest opportunity of the match (in both context & chance probability value) was Casiraghi’s 92nd minute miss inside the center of the box. Had this gone on it would have changed Italy’s prospects significantly.
While the amount of Czech chances was low in the 1st half, they were absolutely clinical & put away two chances that had a high probability rating. This inevitably set them up for the second half, as they had a lead to protect & could counter attack the spaces given to them when Italy had to chase the game.
Type of Chances Created
We saw a very similar game plan from Sacchi, in that they pressed forward hunting in packs & from this attacked through fast and fluid transitions. Italy’s only goal would come from a counter attack, but in contrast to the opening game Italy recorded only 3 attacks from 13 that were on the counter. In the remaining 9 attacks we saw more attacking actions from build up play, as the Czech’s sat deeper & frustrated the Italian’s for large parts of the game. This proved increasingly problematic as the Italians would only register 1 attack on target from 6. Quite evidently Italy prefer to play against a possession based side and use the spaces behind an opponent, in this game the couldn’t deviate away from the plan and as such their chance creation was affected.
The Czech’s attack play also came through build up patterns to goal, with 5 of their 12 actions coming from structured attacks. The right side of the field appeared to bring them success in terms of creating attacks on goal, and further to this they favored creating attacks from crosses, with both of the Czech goals coming from whipped balls into the center of the box.
Where Chances are Created
Of Italy’s 13 attacks 10 were registered inside the box, with the other 3 coming from free kicks outside the box. Breaking down the 10 chances further we see that only 3 of them were on target, which for sure speaks to why they werent able to turn their control of the game into a victory. Of Italy’s xG only 26% of it came from attacks that hit the target, which in a match that they were heavily favored to win simply isnt good enough.
Czech Republic also had a higher percentage of chances inside the box, however almost 50% of these attacks were on target (3 from 7) which of course still have to be scored, but the clinical nature of their attack play was very much the deciding factor in the game.
Who Created Chances
With Sacchi shuffling the line up in this match it gave relative new comer Enrico Chiesa an opportunity to shine. Coming off the back of a 22 goals in 27 season for Sampdoria he was magnificent in this match, scoring the only goal for the Italians & was registered 3 of his 6 attacks on target.
The Czech’s best statistical performer was probably Karel Poborksy, as he helped create 4 chances in the game one of which leading to a goal. Radek Bejbl also deserves a mention, getting himself a goal & was involved in the creation & taking of 4 attacks in total.
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.
Chance creation can tell us a lot about a match, however our predictor shows that on another day Italy probably should have won this game. The Czech’s ability to be clinical when it mattered worked for them on the day, but how will it serve them going forward?