September 15 – UEFA experts labelled Euro 2020 “food for the soul of football” after a tournament bursting with goals, marauding wing-backs, dynamic number 10s and a distinct preference of coaches to field a back three.
After a very congested calendar and amid Covid-19 restrictions, it was feared that Euro 2020 would be a tournament too far, but from the competition’s curtain raiser – Italy breezing past the disappointing Turks – all the way to the final – England losing on penalties – most of the 51 matches were a showcase for the international game and UEFA’s team of experts noted as much in the governing body’s technical study, calling Euro 2020 “a fascinating tournament of great diversity”.
They highlighted a move away from the 4-2-3-1 system that dominated Euro 2016, with 15 teams fielding a back three at some stage and attack-minded wing-backs allowing enough players to press high when out of possession.
Those wing-backs and full-backs filled their boots with 16 goals, a remarkable rise from the single full-back goal by Wales’ Neil Taylor at Euro 2016. The report noted that 12 of those goals were scored against teams playing with a back four. The tournament saw a record 142 goals, with just a third of those goals scored in the first half.
The experts, led by Fabio Capello, noted that the playmaker is no longer the number ten, but the player in front of the defense, Italy’s Jorginho a case in point. Following a tactical switch by coach Roberto Mancini, Jorginho dominated the final and played 98 passes in the final, more than the combined total of England’s midfield.
The report highlighted Italy’s experience.
Denmark’s technical director Peter Rudbæk said: “In five years’ time, if I close my eyes and think back to this tournament, I’m sure I will recall that Italy won because they had a very good goalkeeper and two very, very experienced stoppers. Those two guys were the fathers of the team.”
To see the full report click here.
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