1996 European Championships
Group C – Match Round 3
Russia 3 – 3 Czech Republic
Wednesday 19th June 1996
By Alistair Bain (@allybain)
To give us some context on the data here is a quick overview of each team:
Russia Attacking Structure
- Russia’s center backs were both very aggressive in carrying the ball forward into the Czech half & starting attacks on the front foot.
- Yanovski provided lots of attacking actions to overlap Tsymbalar, who looked to move inside and overload the central areas.
- Karpin added quality to the right hand side, linking the game with center mids but also using the forwards to give & go & attack the flanks.
- Russia’s strike pair looked a little unnatural at times, but essentially Simutenkov worked both sides of the field to pick up the ball & feed Kolyvanov to attack the goal.
Czech Republic Attacking Structure
- The Czech’s attacking threat was underlined by their strength defensively in deep areas, from which they could spring attacks forward. Kuka was the lone target man, but was supported on either flank by Berger & Poborksy who worked tirelessly to support the front man.
- Nedved & Bejbl covered lots of ground to not only link the game, but to also get forward & support the strikers in attack.
- Both full backs favored longer passes, but Nemec quality on the ball was a threat throughout the match.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS TELL US?
Value of Chances
The first thing that stands out is that both teams far out performed their expected goals, with both teams scoring goals that very low probabilities. With that said looking at the xGOT values its interesting to see that Russia needed almost half the amount of attacks to record a similar score, which shows us how wasteful the Czech’s were in front of goal.
Despite not having much creative possession & territory in attack throughout the first half, the Czech’s were undeniably on top at half time after some clinical finishing. The second half brought a malaise that saw their defensive structure weaken, and in turn prevented them from counter attacking as effectively as they had in the first half. It was evident that a mixture of leaving large gaps between attacks being recorded, and missing very good opportunities, would almost prove to be their downfall had Kuka’s heroic late strike not got them the point they required.
While Russia were extremely aggressive in advancing play & taking the game to the Czech’s we see that there were lots of attacks of relatively low probability. They too left huge chunks of the game without getting an attack on frame, but then the introduction of Mostovoi in the second half completely turned the game on its head. His early goal didn’t quite cause a surge in attacks, but we certainly saw an uptick in their chance quality (0.13xG in the first half, with 0.87xG in the second).
Type of Chances Created
As has been the Russian’s tact throughout the group stage, they again favored a build up approach, with 5 of their 10 chances coming this way. With only two attacks on target via build up the forwards will probably be a little unhappy with that return, especially given how deep the Czech’s defended & the space they were given to shoot.
The Czech’s had 8 of their 18 attacks come from set plays, which is clearly something they had pinpointed prior to the match as Russia’s inability to deal with crosses in general was very evident. The first goal of the match (Suchoparek 6mins) came from an unmarked corner, and the second (Kuka 18mins) from a diagonal ball over the top of the defense to an unmarked Kuka who headed in from distance. Allied to this the Czech’s quality on the counter was extremely high, with 3 attacks on target coming from the 4 they registered throughout the match.
Where Chances are Created
Russia had an even 5/5 spit from their 10 attacks in terms of inside & outside the box, however it was clear from the outset that if time & space was given within 30 yards to the goal, a shot would be unleashed. With 4 attacks on target returning 3 goals we could argue it was impressive, however given the nature of the 2nd & 3rd goals & their likely probabilities to be replicated, perhaps theres an argument that the Russian’s were a touch fortunate to bag three goals.
The Czech’s saw 7 chances take place inside the box, with the remaining 11 taking place outside. While we would always like to see more attacks take place within the 18, they did average around 50% attacks on target from both regions of the field, so given the opportunities they were presented with they gave themselves at least a chance of being successful.
Who Created Chances
There wasn’t an outstanding performance statistically coming from the Russian team, however in terms of being a driving force from the back I’ve decided to give it to Yuri Nikiforov. He had himself two long range drives from distance, but was also involved in creating two further attacks, one of which was the pass into Beschastnykh & providing a supporting run to take Suchoparek away from the ball. Naturally Beschastnykh still had to pull out a world class finish, but Nikiforov undoubtedly had a hand in the goals creation.
While Patrick Berger made a significant contribution to the match (3 attack assists & 5 attacks of his own returning 0.40 xG) the most important player statistically has to be Pavel Kuka. Of his 3 attacks during the match he returned 1 goal, a goal which turned out to be integral to the teams progression & capped off what has been a terrific group stage showing from the striker.
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.
I think this outcome is fair in the grand scheme of things. While the Czech’s certainly became complacent and allowed Russia back into the match, on another day the probability of Russia’s chances overall may see a very different outcome.