Portugal vs Turkey – Data Analysis

1996 European Championships

Group D – Match Round 2

Portugal 1 – 0 Turkey

City Ground, Nottingham

Friday 14th June 1996

By Alistair Bain (@allybain)

To give us some context on the data here is a quick overview of each team:

Turkey Attacking Structure

  • Turkey were far more direct in this game, using lots of flat direct balls into the strikers from Alpay & Vedat.
  • Sukur & Saffet linked together as a twin target man pairing. Both lack the mobility to offer a real threat in behind, but their work rate certainly compensates for this.
  • Sergen worked to support the strikers, typically doing so from central areas, however he was also supported by central movements from Abdullah who is a technically very gifted footballer who can thread a pass where required.
  • Tugay & Oguz were charged with covering central spaces, both created lots of attacking transitions through defensive interceptions & forcing turn overs through pressure.

Portugal Attacking Structure

  •  Portugal again used a very fluid system, that would contort & shift depending on which phase of the game they were in.
  • On paper it was listed as a 442 shape, however Rui Costa dropped into a central midfield role alongside Figo, with Joao Pinto leading the line & Sa Pinto making attacking central runs.
  • Folha & Dimas would link together on the left wing to rotate who attacks the inside & outside channels, with Santos covering the majority of the right wing attacks, to help compliment Sa Pinto’s central movements.
  • Sousa would martial the central area & is tasked with building play out to the full backs & switching play in transition.


Value of Chances

xG Timeline:

There are spells in the match where chance creation is relatively even, most notably the first 40 mins & the remaining 25 mins, however toward the end of the 1st half Portugal’s flurry of chances would separate the sides goal scoring probability. Interestingly Couto’s goal came during a period of play where Portugal’s dominance had subsided slightly, however in the end they were very much deserving of a goal.

Turkey’s inability to register consistent attacks certainly hurt them during the match, with only 3 attacks on goal during the 40th & 80th minutes.

Chance Quality:

Portugal’s lack of clinical strike play in front of goal continued into this match, with them creating 4 “big chances” and were not able to convert any of them. Their xG conversion would probably be of concern to the coaching staff (1 goal from 1.92 expected goals), which shows us that while they are getting into the right areas they aren’t scoring them when they matter.

Turkey would create 13 attacks during the game, only 2 less than Portugal, however with their xG difference shows us (1.92 compared to 1.10) that their attacks had a far lower probability of converting into goals, again they were hampered by an inability to attack close enough to their opponents goal.

Type of Chances Created

Portugal commanded much of the possession throughout the match, so it came as no surprise to see them create 10 of their 15 chances through build up play. They are also creating chances within the box, whether this be short passes, box crosses or headed passes, this naturally bodes well for future games as they are turning their territory into chances.

Turkey worked a lot of their attack play through Saffet & Sukur in transition, so were able to create chances through knock downs or give & go’s starting closer to the box. With that said many of these attacks resulted in shots from distance, so the lack of penetration would hurt their ability to convert chances.

Where Chances are Created

We can see from the graphic that Portugals ability to attack the box was impressive, however the amount of chances missed that were within yards to the goal is rather concerning. They will be pleased with the amount of xG that is coming from open play attacks, as this shows that their fluid build up style is still very much working, however its the lack of clinical finishing thats quite perplexing. Looking at the amount of chances inside the golden zone (Central portion of 18 yard box), its amazing to see they only return 2 shots on target. Their overall xG on target came in at 0.61, which amounts to only 31% of their overall attack play, quite simply that has to shift if they have any genuine tournament aspirations.

Equally concerning would be Turkey’s shot locations. While we have to consider that the Portuguese central defensive partnership of Couto & Helder were very impressive, Saffet & Sukur both failed to register a shot from the “golden zone”, an area within the center of the 18 yard box. This target zone that twin striker play would fundamentally be looking to attack from the outset. Further to this with only 1 shot from inside the box testing the keeper, it shows they are still relying on speculative efforts from distance and free kicks as their primary weapon for attack.

Who Created Chances

Turkey’s best statistical performer was Hakan Sukur, who registered 5 attacks during the match, returning an xG of 0.63. This accounted for just over 50% of Turkey’s chance creation value.

Portugal had a number of top statistical performers, however Luis Figo would come top of the pile. He would have 3 attacks on his own, two of which would land on target, but he would also play a role in creating 4 attacks for his teammates.

Match Predictor

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.

Out verdict:

Portugal’s big chances clearly weight the game in their favor, and on another day could have scored far more. Turkey’s low chance probability certainly doesn’t help them in the predictor, despite registering a similar amount of attacks during the game.

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