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Euro 2012 Tactical Review- Poland v Greece

Poland started the game with a 4-2-3-1 formation, utilising Obraniak in the advanced midfield position. Greece on the other hand play a more defensive formation, a  4-5-1 moving to 4-3-3 with the experienced Kostas Katsouranis sitting between the defence and the midfield.

In the opening minutes Poland pressed high up the pitch, forcing errors and long balls that could be easily claimed by the hosting nation’s defence. Once the ball was in Poland’s possession quick breaks would occur, mostly focused down the right flank where Blaszczykowski  and Piszczek would run at the defence and cause problems. This is of course the strongest part of Poland’s team; Blaszczykowski , Piszczek and Lewandowski all play club football at Borussia Dortmund and have found success in recent seasons. Although the Greek defence had been successful in the Qualifiers (only conceding 5 goals in all qualifications) speed at which Poland attacked caused problems. The left side of the Greek team; Holebas as full back and Samaras as the left attacking player both were caught out early on; Holebas was frequently further ahead of his defensive partners which allowed Blaszczykowski  the space to run into. After a string of attacks made by Poland; Blaszczykowski managed to find Lewandowski with a cross which resulted in the opening goal of the tournament.

Sotiris Ninis, one of Greece’s main attacking outlets was unable to impose himself on the game and gave the ball away easily (pass success rate of 33.3%). When Papastathopoulos was sent off in the first half, Ninis was replaced by Salpingidis who had much more impact on the game; he scored, won a penalty and had a goal disallowed for offside. The formation however stayed roughly the same with a 4-4-1 shape and Katsouranis dropped further back to play as centre back. Within five minutes of the start of the second half, an error between Wasilewski and Szczesny allowed Salpingidis to score in an almost empty net.

The substitution of Fortounis on for Gekas also helped Greece; Samaras now played in a much more familiar position as centre forward and was able to hold the ball up and become a central target man for the Greek side to aim for. As a midfielder, Fortounis is more accomplished at passing than Samaras (pass completion of 82% and 72% respectively) and it was from a pass over the defence from Fortounis that helped win a penalty decision for the Greeks. Szczesny received a red card, however his replacement Tyton saved the penalty taken by Karagounis.

Rybus was replaced by Tyton and and Obraniak moved to the left side, this resulted in Poland’s formation becoming 4-4-1, similar to Greece’s. From then on Greece were able to gain a foothold and attacked well, Poland also continued to use the right flank but were unable to keep up the pressing and high tempo that was used in the first half.

In conclusion, both teams started in their usual lineups and formations and Poland started well using the strength of Blaszczykowski  and Piszcek. Greece were unlucky to lose Papastathopoulos but looked more dangerous when Salpingidis replaced Ninis and moved to the 4-4-1 formation. Fortounis could be a better option in the other group matches for Greece rather than Samaras on the left side of midfield as Samaras prefers to stay high up the pitch creating pressure on Holebas.

Scott Carmichael

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