Group winners pay the price for rotation at Euro 2008

June 22, 2008

Three drama-filled quarter-finals and three group winners are gone. Spain should be worried.

Three of the four sides that qualified for the knockout stages after two games are out of the championship. Spain, the fourth, face world champions Italy on Sunday hoping to avoid completing the quartet.

Netherlands, Portugal, Croatia and Spain looked impressive in the group stages and chose to field second choice lineups in their final group games to give a break to their main players.

However, successful international football teams rely on continuity in their play, matches are spread out across the year and players get little opportunity to learn how to play with their colleagues. We have seen over the past three days that the more a team can play together inevitably the better they perform.

Germany finally “clicked” after stuttering through the group stages. Russia have improved in every game after a poor start. Buoyed by the return of playmaker Andrei Arshavin, they were worthy winners over a surprisingly lethargic Dutch team for whom most of the starting XI had enjoyed an eight-day break.

Spain’s expected starting lineup has had a similar length of rest.

Italy were poor against the Dutch, fortunate against Romania, but showed signs of improvement in the 2-0 win over France.

Will the pattern continue?

3 comments

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Yeah, thanks for that Patrick — yet another statistical albatross tracking the Spanish Armada.
Why don’t you add the fact that Spain last beat Italy in a competitive game at the 1920 Olympics, or the fact that Spain lost to Belgium (1986), England (1996), and South Korea (2002) on today’s date, June 22?
C’mon Spain, you can do it!
Lay all these demons to rest — PA-LEEEEZE

Posted by William Kemble-Diaz | Report as abusive

[...] who had needed a win over France in their final Group C game to make the quarters. Spain avoided the curse of the Group winners, but only [...]

I totally agree with the comment about continuity. Portugal sat eight players and Scolari used three subs against the Swiss, and not only lost that game, but had nothing for Germany. The regulars hadn’t played in a week and they had no rhythm and Germany burned them, especially early breaking out to a 2-0 lead.
Yeah, I understand you don’t want injuries or a multitude of cards, but there is something to over-coaching. It’s a relatively short tournament, played over the course of a month. These guys should be able to suck it up.
http://startingeleven.blogspot.com/2008/ 06/starting-eleven-football-blog-roundup _23.html

I’m not even a fan of the game, really, but after watching the completely shameful way in which (Sh)italy “won” the World Cup*, I was very happy for Spain on Sunday. Go Spain! And may you beat out Turkey, Germany and Russia, now, too, to have be the cup winners!
*For those who didn’t watch, they seemed to play with no scruples. They faked injuries left and right, hoping for referees to rule in favour of them getting a penalty kick (okay, so that may be a tradition, but they were really the biggest babies about that stuff). And the coup de grace came in the last game with their offensive hazing of (French Star) Zidane; clearly (Italian idiot-child) Materassi should not have been allowed to continue play, either; indeed, he should have been removed from the sport, permanently. Even before Zidane explained what offensive things MaterASSi had said to wind him up like that, it was clear that the (Sh)Italians were trying to instigate something or at least psychologically torment their opponent. They never played fair and the people of Italy should have been ashamed of their team, not parading in the streets. As I said, I’m not even a fan of the sport, but I was glad for every time (Sh)Italy lost a game in this tournament. They need to be taken down a peg or three.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive