By Alistair Bain (@allybain)
Now that Round 2 of matches has drawn to a close, let’s take a closer look at each team’s attacking performance and see whether there have been any upgrades since our last breakdown.
Last weeks lowest scoring attackers Turkey move themselves into mid table this round, after a departure from their 4-5-1 to a more robust 3-5-2 with lots more direct play. While their on target scoring needs to improve, its clear they have at least tried to attempt a shift.
No surprise that France and Spain would come in bottom of the attacking stakes, given how closely contested their match was in the past match round.
Both France and Spain favor defensive stability as a priority in their strategy, both then using transitions as the point in which to advance forward into the spaces given to them by the opponent. It therefore stands to reason why there simply wasn’t enough space in the opponents defensive third for either side to wrack up high attacking numbers, in addition to this both teams focus the majority of their attack play through the central channels which in most cases lead to them cancelling each other out. Overall I didn’t see this as a bad attacking performance from either team, both had a solid amount of attacking chances on target, but both will have to perhaps find alternate routes to goal should they wish to go further in the competition.
The next layer of lower attacking performances was divided between Switzerland, Scotland and Denmark.
Let’s touch on Scotland first, in what was a real no lose situation against the hosts England. Whatever the result in this one, the pressure was always going to be on England so it perhaps gave Scotland more license to break forward and attack. They did slightly better in finding higher territory than in their first match, and would increase both their xG and their overall attack count in round 2. The biggest disappointment has to be their missed penalty, but that a side it was a better performance.
Looking at Denmark and Switzerland, both would record 10 attacks in their respective matches against tournament contender level opponents (Croatia and Holland respectively). With that said Denmark’s xG value was almost double that of Switzerland, but where this becomes interesting was that Denmark’s xG on target would only amount to 0.12, whereas Switzerland would actually score marginally higher with 0.17 xG on target. Therefore only 6% of Denmarks attacks value would come from efforts on target, with the Swiss hitting 22% of their attack value on target. It’s important we drill into these xG figures as the face value would suggest that Denmark were a bigger threat, which on a superficial level they were, however when we begin to look into the realities of what actually happened it paints another picture entirely.
Last weeks highest attackers Holland were still in the picture of best overall attackers in this round, but despite the slight drop in numbers they will be delighted to have scored their first two goals at the tournament.
Germany’s outstanding Round 2 performance against Russia has to solidify them as one of the contenders for the trophy, furthering what was a magnificent opening game and looking almost imperious throughout. They would record the most attacks overall in this match, 21 in total, and from it would show an impressive 2.64 xG for, and limited their opponents to 0.74 xG against from 12 attacks.
Croatia were the most effective attackers in this round, recording slightly less attacks overall from Germany, but were far more clinical in front of goal. From Croatia’s 2.68 xG score we would see 2.09 of which coming from attacks that landed on target. This is in comparison to Germany who would only score 0.98xG on target from an overall 2.64 xG score. Amazingly this came in a game where Croatia’s opponents would score 2.01 xG, as mentioned previously, which equated to 0.20xG per attack. In simple terms their opponent had a 20% chance of scoring in every attack they would land, where as Croatia would only have a 16% chance, yet would finish the game 3-0 winners. Clinical with a capital C.
On Target Analysis
Holland’s fortunes were in complete contrast to round 1, as this week they would rank much better in terms of turning their approach play into solid attacking output. However the undoubted winner this week is Croatia, whose performance was far and away better than all of their opponents. Lets see if they can use this performance as a spring board in which to propel them into the next round in game 3.