Euro 2016 – Third Round Review (Groups A-F)

Statszone Key smallGroup A
France 0-0 Switzerland – Woodwork and Sommer deny France

The hosts failed to extend their 100% record after playing out a nil-nil draw with Switzerland.

France struck the woodwork on three occasion with two from Paul Pogba in the first half and a volley by Dimitri Payet late on. 

The Swiss have controlled most of the ball during their games and this match was no different but they appear toothless in attack, which will likely be their undoing in the knockout rounds.

Granit Xhaka performed well again but despite having the top five passes in the game, Switzerland was only able to create less than half of France’s chances.

Didier Deschamps made five changes to his starting line-up following the Albania win with the back five and Kingsley Coman retaining their places.

Paul Pogba returned to the side and put in a better showing than his Romania performance. The Juventus midfielder was unfortunate not to have opened the scoring with a thunderous effort from distance which struck the crossbar while Yann Sommer pulled off a great save to deny him from the angle.

France will face Republic of Ireland in the next round while Switzerland is up against Poland.

Pogba comp

Pogba put in a more rounded performance against Switzerland compared to the Romania match.

Man of the Match: Paul Pogba – Most attempts at goal and second most chances created as well as ball recoveries. The 23-year-old has been burdened with an unfair amount of pressure ahead of the tournament but there is no denying that his performances as part of their well balanced midfield three could be crucial to France’s success.


Albania 1-0 Romania – Sadiku’s goal not enough for last 16 spot

Albania’s first ever goal in the European Championships scored by Armando Sadiku wasn’t enough for qualification into the knockout stages.

Ledian Memushaj created seven chances of which six were from set plays and one assisted Sadiku’s goal. He failed to make an appearance in the opening defeat to Switzerland but has been a creative source since, playing just behind the lone striker Sadiku.

Memushaj’s stats compare similarly to Dimitri Payet’s man of the match performance against Romania where the West Ham playmaker created eight chances of which one was converted but only one was from a set play. This is surprising given Payet’s reputation as a dead ball specialist although he’s probably more successful with shots as oppose to crosses.

Romania gave a better account of themselves than most were expecting ahead of the Championships. They were unfortunate to lose in the dying moments against France and drew against Switzerland.

This tie saw them have over 60% possession but only find the target with three of their 16 attempts. They did strike the crossbar but Albania held out for a famous victory.

Memushaj v Payet chances created

Memushaj created six of his seven chances from set plays compared to Payet’s one from eight.

Man of the Match: Ledian Memushaj – Second for attempts at goal, created more than double the second placed player and was joint second for ball recoveries. He’ll be plying his trade in the Serie A next season following Pescara’s promotion.


Group B
England 0-0 Slovakia – Three Lions fail to breakdown Slovaks

Roy Hodgson made six changes to his side ahead of their final group game against Slovakia. A win would have guaranteed England qualify top of Group B with a last 16 tie against the best third placed side from Groups A, C or D.

But despite starting on the front foot and looking dangerous during the first half as they did against Russia, England failed to find a breakthrough.

Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge started the match as a rewarded for their goals against Wales after coming on as half-time substitutes. And it was they who came closest to opening the scoring. Sturridge saw his close range effort blocked while Vardy showed his pace before forcing the Slovakian keeper Matus Kozacik into a good save.

Slovakia retreated further in the second half, which limited the space for Vardy to exploit as demonstrated by the graphic below. The Leicester forward had an uneventful second half yet it was Sturridge – who also struggled – that was replaced by Harry Kane in the 76th minute.

Vardy 1st v 2nd

Vardy had a fairly quiet game in general but was almost silent in the second half.

Jack Wilshere came in for Wayne Rooney but looked off the pace as anticipated following a season of very little football. England’s captain replaced the Arsenal player just ten minutes into the second period.

Martin Skrtel and Jan Durica were disciplined and determined in defence, which set the tone for the entire Slovakian team. Milan Skrinar actually managed to match Skrtel’s four blocks despite only coming on with 15 minutes remaining such was their committed approach in search of the point that confirmed their place in the next round.

Having finished second, England will come against Iceland.

Clyne v Walker comp

It would be harsh to drop Walker having been rested against Slovakia and despite Clyne’s performance.

Man of the Match: Nathaniel Clyne – Created at least three chances more than any other player, the Liverpool defender did his best to stake a claim for the impressive Kyle Walker’s position. Clyne also succeeded with all four of his take ons leaving Hodgson spoilt for choice at right-back.


Wales 3-0 Russia – Ramsey and Bale send Wales top

An emphatic performance by Wales ensured they qualified on the ‘right side’ of the draw having finished top of Group B.

The Welsh – who were helped by scoring two goals in the opening 20 minutes – ran Russia ragged with notable performances by Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen.

Bale comp

Bale enjoyed a lot more freedom against Russia.

There were gaps all over the pitch as Russia went in search of the win that would see them progress to the knockout stages. That however, allowed Gareth Bale to roam and cause danger throughout the match with the Real Madrid forward having eight attempts at goal, creating three chances and succeeding with eight from ten take ons. In the two previous games combined, Bale only managed five from eight such was the space afforded to him in this final group fixture.


Chris Coleman’s side will now fancy their chances of reaching at least the quarter-finals with British rivals Northern Ireland up next.

Ramsey comp

Ramsey was more influential against Russia compared to the Slovakia game.

Man of the Match: Aaron Ramsey – One goal and an assist in addition to the most ball recoveries (15) and chances created (6) in an all-round performance by the Arsenal midfielder.


Group C
Poland 1-0 Ukraine – Poland maintain clean sheet record

Despite Ukraine creating more chances and having far more possession, Poland edged out 1-0 winners to book their place in the next round.

It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise given Ukraine failed to score a single goal all tournament whilst Poland are one of two teams yet to concede – fellow Group C side, Germany being the other.

Arkadiusz Milik continues to be a good foil for Robert Lewandowski having created more chances than any other player during the game. Meanwhile, the Bayern Munich striker continues to search for his first goal of the competition and will hope to end that rut against Switzerland.

Rotan v Sydorchuk

Rotan should have been in the side sooner following this controlling performance in midfield.

Man of the Match: Ruslan Rotan – First appearance and the Dnipro midfielder finished the game top in terms of passes, ball recoveries and tackles while he was joint-second for interceptions and defensive aerial duels.


Northern Ireland 0-1 Germany – Plenty of love for the gloves of McGovern

Germany peppered Northern Ireland’s goal but only once got past Michael McGovern to finish top of Group C.

As an indication of Germany’s dominance, Toni Kroos completed more passes (121 from 130) than the whole Northern Ireland team put together (111 from 199). The World champions also had 28 attempts at goal to their opponents two.

Kimmich v Howedes comp

Kimmich had a greater impact on the game than Howedes who he replaced. It’s likely Kimmich will be starting the next game now.

Joshua Kimmich came in for Benedikt Howedes at right back and had a very good game. Granted he wasn’t under much defensive pressure, but the Bayern Munich player managed to create four chances while ranking second for take ons and clearances as well as third for attacking third passes. Joachim Low may be best off sticking with Kimmich with Germany taking on Slovakia in the next round – another side who will defend deep.

Mesut Ozil performed well with his passing success rate particularly impressive. The Arsenal playmaker only misplaced one pass from the 68 he attempted which is six better than what he achieved against Ukraine – his second best of the tournament.

Northern Ireland’s stubborn defending earned them a last 16 tie with Wales.

Ger v Nir shots

A clear indictment of just how one-sided the fixture was.

Man of the Match: Michael McGovern – Saving eight of the nine shots on target to keep his side not only in this game but also in the tournament with goal difference proving crucial for the third placed sides.


Group D
Croatia 2-1 Spain – Perisic earns crucial win for Croatia

Croatia scored a late winner to defeat reigning champions Spain and finish top of Group D.

Ivan Perisic’s goal on the counter-attack gave Croatia qualification to the favourable side of the draw. David De Gea will be disappointed having been beaten at his near-post during an unconvincing performance. Spain’s new number one was fortunate not to be punished for a heavy touch during the first half when Ivan Rakitic’s lob struck the crossbar then post before being cleared to safety.

Nikola Kalinic and Perisic combined for both goals with Fiorentina’s Kalinic possibly earning his place in the starting line-up against Portugal on Sunday.

Spain as expected, had the vast majority of possession but they weren’t particularly efficient with it as the Spaniards actually had fewer attempts on target compared to Croatia.

Serigo Ramos’ missed penalty with 20 minutes to go was a pivotal moment and one that undoubtedly shouldn’t have stood with Danijel Subasic miles off his line. Why we have these extra officials is anyone’s guess.

Srna v Juanfran comp

Srna’s overlapping runs, set plays and attacking ability still make him an asset for Croatia despite being 34.

Darijo Srna enjoyed another fine performance as the Croatian captain continues to maraud up and down the right wing despite being 34 years old. He created more chances, had more interceptions, tackles and ball recoveries compared to his Spanish compatriot, Juanfran.

Man of the Match: Milan Badelj – Top passer in the Croatia side, ranked first for ball recoveries and blocks while the Fiorentina midfielder was second for tackles and interceptions.


Czech Republic 0-2 Turkey – Turks miss out on goal difference despite win

Czech Republic might have had slightly more possession and chances but Turkey were ruthless with their opportunities.

One big selection change was moving Arda Turan to the centre after Turkey’s best player had produced a couple of abject performances from the left.

Despite this victory, Turkey missed out on a place in the next round due to their poor goal difference having been emphatically beaten by Spain during the second round of matches.

Cze v Tur clearances comp

The concentration of Turkey’s clearances shows that they were defending more and deeper than their opponents.

Turkey defended resolutely with 36 clearances, the vast majority of which were around their penalty spot. Czech Republic on the other hand had fewer clearances to deal with while most were outside the ‘D’.

Neither team had the quality or consistency to have a big impact on the knockout rounds so it’s neither a surprise nor loss that they failed to progress.

Man of the Match: Selcuk Inan – Turkey’s top passer and creator of chances while the Galatasaray midfielder was his side’s second best player for ball recoveries and interceptions.


Group E
Italy 0-1 Republic of Ireland – Brady bunch celebrate qualification

The luck of the Irish kicked in when Robbie Brady scored the winning goal in the 85th minute. The three-points ensured Ireland takes on hosts France in the last 16.

Both sides made a number of changes with Italy – who had already qualified as group winners – making eight to Ireland’s four.

Roi line up

O’Neill made several changes following the disappointing defeat against Belgium including both his central defenders.

Martin O’Neill took a risk, which paid off as he replaced both of his centre backs. Like Turan, goal scorer Brady was moved in from the left to play a central midfield role.

The Italians posed little threat and had the air of a side that knew this result didn’t matter. Lorenzo Insigne’s effort, which struck the post, was the closest they came to a goal.

Republic of Ireland will obviously be reminded of the Thierry Henry handball incident from the 2010 World Cup qualifier while Italy are cruelly rewarded for finishing top of Group E with a last 16 match against Spain. Although, Antonio Conte’s tactics and system may be best suited against stronger opposition looking to attack.

Brady attack comp

Brady’s versatility has made him a real asset for O’Neill and Ireland.

Man of the Match: Robbie Brady – Match winning goal aside, the Norwich City player was top for attempts at goal, passes in the final third, chances created, and second for tackles. It was a strong performance by the versatile player who has started every game so far in a different position.


Sweden 0-1 Belgium – Nainggolan’s strikes late to send Belgium second

Belgium was fortunate to finish second in their group after defeating Sweden with Radja Nainggolan’s 84th minute deflected strike.

Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne continue to be influential as they benefit from playing alongside the more mobile Yannick Carrasco instead of Marouane Fellaini. Together, Hazard and De Bruyne created 11 of Belgium’s 17 chances with the Chelsea man providing the assist for the game’s only goal.

In Thomas Meunier, Belgium appear to have resolved their right-back issue after Laurent Ciman started the first game against Italy. Club Brugge’s Meunier had the most tackles and second most ball recoveries during the Sweden game and his run in the team is likely to continue with manager Marc Wilmots short of options.

Sweden finally hit the target having gone the first two games without but still couldn’t score in what was probably Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last international match. They clearly lack the sort of creativity their opponents possess as evident by Belgium creating seven more chances despite having slightly less possession.

Hazard comp

Carrasco replaced Fellaini after the Italy game which seems to get more from Hazard and De Bruyne.

Man of the Match: Eden Hazard – Top for passes including in the attacking third and take ons, while the Belgium captain was second for chances created and ball recoveries.


Group F
Portugal 3-3 Hungary – Ronaldo inspires Portugal to triple comeback

Portugal scraped through with their third successive draw in the one of the tournament’s most entertaining matches.

A great strike by Zoltan Gera gave Hungary the lead but Cristiano Ronaldo set-up Nani to equalise just before half-time.

Then there were four goals within 15 minutes of each other at the start of the second half. Hungary took the lead three times during the game but Portugal showed great character to bounce back, particularly from Balazs Dzsudzsak’s two deflected goals.

Ronaldo to his credit stepped up to the plate and saved his team who would have made an early exit from what appeared to be the easiest group in the competition had they failed to at least draw.

The Portuguese had most of the possession and created a lot more opportunities but still looked vulnerable in defence. Hungary’s goalkeeper, Gabor Kiraly, meanwhile, played at least 16 more passes than any other Hungarian player and was fifth overall.

Por v Hun chances created comp

All three of Portugal’s goals were created while none of Hungary’s were.

Hungary – who some expected to be the whipping boys – finished top of Group F but are likely to find Belgium too strong in the next round.

Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo – For all his flaws, which includes having to take 10 shots every game, he is a bloody good footballer and proved it when his team needed him the most. Ronaldo’s assist and two goals helped them qualify for a last 16 encounter with much fancied Croatia.


Iceland 2-1 Austria – The Iceland on the cake

Iceland will face England on Monday after finishing second in Group F thanks to Arnor Ingvi Traustason’s 94th minute winner.

Austria – who needed a win to progress – dominated the ball like all of Iceland’s previous opponents (Austria = 70%, Hungary = 71% and Portugal = 72%). But the Austrians were unable to score more than one goal from their 23 attempts.

That included Aleksandar Dragovic’s missed penalty, which reaffirmed his tournament as quite the failure after receiving a red card in the first game and subsequently being suspended for the second.

Ice v Aut clearances comp

Iceland having to clear so many balls in their penalty area is likely to be repeated against England.

The startling difference in terms of clearances goes to show just how defensive Iceland were and how Austria failed to break them down despite showering their penalty box.

Austria have disappointed following a strong qualifying campaign with many expecting more from them, especially given the perceived lack of competition in their group.

Iceland’s fairytale will continue against the Three Lions knowing that a fourth game of little possession and deep defending could prove successful against a side who has so far struggled to break down such teams.

Man of the Match: Kari Arnason – Created the most chances and earned the most free-kicks for his side while ranking top overall for blocks and headed clearances. Iceland relinquish so much possession that their defensive discipline is essential and at the heart of it is Arnason.