Berti Vogts would be without the suspended Andreas Moller for the Final, a loss that would cause a significant impact on his teams midfield. Thomas Hassler was patched up and sent out in the starting 11 to replace Moller, but unfortunately it was clear he wasn’t at his top level.
One major addition back into the line up was Captain Jurgen Klinsmann, who had also been patched up and sent out despite clearly carrying an ankle injury he picked up against Croatia, leading him to miss the Semi Final with England. He was partnered by Kuntz, who despite entering the tournament as fourth choice has now racked up some decent minutes as a Germany striker. Kuntz energy to stretch play and pull Czech defenders out of position allowed Klinsmann to operate in the spaces, often dropping into midfield to pick up the ball.
Hassler and Scholl performed similar dynamic roles in this match, often making diagonal movements to stretch play and offer penetration. This not only gave Germany some additional outlets, but it served to pull the Czech Republic man markers from the central region.
Sammer & Eilts movements would alter slightly in this match, with Eilts pulling out into a right back role at times and Babbel stepping forward into the holding midfield position. Sammer would remain at the base of the back line during build up, but was alert to opportunities when he could ghost forward in attack.
Ziege was a focal point of the attack, often using the flanks to advance forward with & without the ball. However there were also opportunities for him to attack centrally should Hassler pull wide or Helmer advance forward.
Strunz was more of an auxiliary wide player, linking with Scholl to play him into the final third, or checking toward Babbel to draw Nemec out of the back line and open an entry space for Klinsmann to run into on the right flank.
Germany Starting X1
For the first time in a number of matches Dusan Uhrin would use set the Czech’s up in the same shape we saw from the Semi Final, however he did make a few adjustments to the personnel with some key additions returning to the line up.
Kuka would return to the center forward position, looking to peel wide and run the channels, pulling his opposition center back out of pocket and allowing his teammates to penetrate into the central space.
Nedved was more offensively minded in central midfield, where as Bejbl was more structured in his defensive positioning in front of the back line.
Both Nemec and Hornak had the license to move forward, with the caveat that either side had to balance their teammates movement, thus always forming a back four shape in transition.
Berger was more central in his positioning as an attacker, where as Poborsky patrolled the wide areas a little more regularly. Both given license to attack in the half spaces should the ball turn over, with the mindset that both had to recover quickly should the ball be lost.
Czech Republic Starting X1
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS TELL US?
Value of Chances
Both teams traded blows fairly evenly in the opening 45 minutes, however it was the second half that would really spark the game into life. The Czech’s had a chance inside the 6 yard box prior to Berger’s penalty, both of which massively impacted the chance creation value, and on 70 minutes you’d be hard pressed to see where a German goal was coming from. Despite Germany’s dominance of possession there had been two significant 20+ minute dead periods where they hadn’t recorded a single shot on goal, so you’d be forgiven in thinking the Bierhoff goal came out of the blue. After the equalizing goal the Germans would fight their way back into the flow of the match, and gain an increasing amount of control which saw their management of the ball steadily fall in line with the frequency of chances created.
Germany created 3 big chances in the match, two of which landing on target, whereas the Czechs would only be awarded with 1 but it would come from their penalty kick. (“Big Chance” Opta Def: A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one on one scenario or from very close range when the ball has a clear path to goal). So it was clear to see that the German’s were creating more attacking threat throughout the match, however it was the flow of the game that ultimately lead the game moving in the favor of Germany. The Czech’s attack play was as positive as expected in a match like this, and against an opponent of this caliber, however after their opening goal they couldn’t stem the flow of attacks from their opponent nor fashion enough of their own to really solidify the result. From 70 minutes onward there were far more upticks in the Germans chance creation, which ultimately has lead to them winning the title.
Type of Chances Created
We can tell from the map above that Germany’s key passes carried far more threat in both their application, but also in their proximity to the opponents goal. Germany would record 5 crosses within their Key pass total of 12, which shows us their strategy was to pull apart the Czech’s back three, who had been pretty formidable throughout the competition, and attack the spaces behind them with early whipped crosses and in front of them with cut backs. Germany’s patient possession is best evidenced with 8 of their 15 attacks coming from passages of build up play, something the Germans have consistently demonstrated throughout the tournament.
Christian Ziege had a real tour de force performance in this match, occupying the left wing in the first half and then the right wing in the second. His numbers account for a quarter of the German Key Passes in the match, and can be found in both wings in the map above.
Germany still remained a threat from set pieces, with 7 of their attacks from either free kicks or corners bringing about just over 50% success rate in generating attacks on goal. Hassler, Scholl and Ziege deliveries especially are a feature that often threaten, as is the attacking potency of Klinsmann and Helmer in the box attacking said crosses.
The Czech’s struggled to gain consistent attacking possession or regular territory in the Germany half, but having lived much of this tournament on the back foot they continued to look comfortable as they dropped deep to collect defensively then spring an attack after a turn over occurred. They would be disappointed that only one counter attack turned into an opportunity on goal, as there were plenty of them, however it was through their use of set plays that gave them the most shots on goal. Germany were fairly cynical in their defensive transition, often chopping down their opponent should they deem them to have too much time and space to advance forward. This presented Nedved and Berger the chance to strike from dead ball situations, both of whom have quality in striking the ball from distance, however they simply weren’t able to capitalize with all of their efforts missing the target or being blocked by defenders.
Where Chances are Created
Germany would only record one more attack than the Czech Republic (15 shots vs 14 shots respectively) however as we can see from the shot map Germany’s coverage of shots closer to the goal gave them a significantly better chance of conversion. The Czech’s would split their shots 7 & 7 between in & out of the box attempts, where as the Germans hit 9 of their shots inside the box versus 6 from outside. When adding in the layer of conversion to attacks on target the Germans also come out on top, with 5 of their 9 shots inside the box hitting the target, where as the Czechs would only hit 2 of their 7 on target from inside the 18.
Where things become interesting in the shot count is in the xG values of each teams attack play, as we can see the Czechs finish with a higher value than their opponents. While its easy to say that the penalty xG value skews the overall numbers, it is still an attack that impacts the game. Where I think is a much better gauge is the xG on target stats, which show us that the Czech’s penalty accounted for 81% of the value attributed to attacks on target overall. Therefore when we consider 1 of their 14 shots gave them 81% chance of scoring, we must also assume that the remaining 13 only gave them 29% probability, overall that isnt a great return.
Germany on the other hand would see a slightly higher xGOT of 0.96, albeit from one more attack overall, but this shows us that over 50% of Germany’s xG came from 6 shots on target. This score illustrates that the Germans higher frequency of attacks provides a better spread & variation of attack play, and overall heightens their chances of winning.
Who Created Chances
Patrik Berger would finish as the Czech’s best statistical attacker, taking part in 5 attacks on his own and creating 2 more for his teammates. His 5 attacks would generate 1 goal and an open play attack that was saved by Kopke. His personal xG for the match would 0.94, almost 50% of his teams overall attacking value.
Oliver Bierhoff would be the Germans best statistical attacker, as he would return two goals from his only two attacks of the match and set up one other for a teammate that would also hit the target. We must also consider that he spent a total of 26 minutes on the field and would go on to score the Golden Goal that would win the match in extra time.
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.
The predictors fondness for penalties reigns supreme once more, with the Czech’s opening goal weighting their future probability greatly. Personally I felt Germany’s attack play did enough to warrant a higher future win %, but the nature of open play attacks is varied in probability compared to that of a spot kick, so overall it does make some level of sense…..I guess?