Monday, 18 June 2012

Group C Spain v Croatia Post Match Analysis

SPAIN 1 - 0 CROATIA 
Navas 88

Spain start off in their 4-2-3-1 shape, starting 11:
GK: Casillas, LB: Alba, CB: Ramos, CB: pique, RB: Arbeloa, CM: Busquets, CM: Alonso , LAM: Iniesta, AM: Xavi, RAM: Silva, ST: Torress
SUBS USED: Torres/ Navas 60  Silva/Fabregas 73 Xavi/Negredo 89 

Croatia  start off in their 4-2-3-1 shape, starting 11:
GK: Pletikosa, LB: Strinic, CB: Schildenfeld CB: Corluka, RB: Vida, CM: Rakitic CM: Vukojevic AM: Modric LM: Perisic  RM Srna, ST: Mandzukic.
SUBS USED: Vida/Jelavic 65 Pranjic/perisic 65  Vukojevic/Sduardo 81 

A Little look:
Knowing the danger that Spain hold, Croatia have dropped Jelavic to allow Bilic to push Modric and Srna further forward while Rakitic will come inside and play central midfield. Spain have stayed the same and will play the same game as they always do. Croatia have been very good going forward but not so when defending, and I believe this is the reason for the change of personnel and tactics.The key to this game will be how they deal with not having the ball for long periods of time, along with not  rushing things when they do get the ball.


WHY WHO AND HOW
Early on, -in the first half  as well as the second- Croatia set their stall up to close down very high and as one unit which caught Spain out a little. Croatia found it hard to keep this sort of pace up and as the half's went on, they started to press a little deeper along with the back line dropping off a bit. This played into Spain's hands, as they started to do what they do so well and gave Croatia the fitness class they never wanted to take.
Dropping the striker for the extra help in the centre was the right move to make and it was just the application that was wrong; they rushed things up top and apart from Modric, they never really looked like getting a goal in the game. The Croatia fans let off more flares than the team let off shots in the first half -that number being two- and this improved little in the second half: totalling seven shots, which is just not good enough for a team who needed to score. They did however make some changes, pushing on in last 15 mins; they went with a sort of  4-1-3-2 but by then their race had been run.


Defensive: 
Alba, along with Arbeloa, enjoyed the extra room on the outside; getting forward at all times and they again played in more of the role of a wing-back. After Croatia's change, Arbeloa changed back into the full back role as Navas was there to give all the width they needed. As the Croatians were dropping off as the halfs went on, Ramos and Pique both managed to get forward and to get shots off. Srna played at right midfield although he did his best work with the defensive unit; becoming a right back a lot and letting Vida come inside to help with the congestion of Spanish players in central areas.


In the middle: 
After the initial full-on press, Spain finished this game with 72% possession. making a massive 229 passes in the opponents half.  Iniesta was the man pulling the strings again: every time he gets the ball he looks like he's going to make something happen, he played key passes and showed that it is all about the team with the pass to Navas for the goal. Croatia's middle men worked hard but did nothing with the ball the times they did get it back. Modric was a class above his team and if it wasn't for the kit, you would swear he was Spanish. He was always available to receive a pass, along with doing a really good job at working hard to close down the first and second ball out. He made a  great early run to start a counter; the only problem was that after the stardust had settled there was no after show for him to go to, and it was like this for the whole game. 


Wing play: 
Alba enjoyed his time on the left wing and maybe could have got a goal. He linked well again with Iniesta, staying wide when needed and cutting in at all the right times. Navas came on and gave a lot of width, although his influence on the team may be leaning towards bad rather then good, due to the fact that he likes to cross the ball a lot and his decisions on when to cross were not great sometimes with no one in the box. He also tends to play high balls which, as we all know, is not a good idea when you take into consideration the size of the Spanish squad.  
  
Up Top: 
Torres got the nod again up top and he didn't do himself any favours; he slowed the game down too much. He moved to the wings often which allowed Silva to come inside and play a sort of false 9 role for large parts, especially when Navas came on.Silva  had another good game today; he ran the channels, dropped deep and played some nice balls in. The way he, Iniesta and Fabergas link up is just fantastic to watch and again they showed that the false 9 is the way to go, although  Torres does get in behind but he doesn't use the ball as well. With Silva, Iniesta and Fabregas playing together, it's like them having their own mini game within the match. Their little one-twos and movement make it a thing of beauty to watch. The fact that they can all play multiple positions makes it harder for the defence to pick them up. Fabergas did brilliantly with the ball, chipping it over the defensive line to Iniesta (one of Barcelona's favourite tricks when dealing with a packed defense), who calmly rolled it to Navas for the goal. 


Full time:
Spain showed that the bright sparks were on the pitch and not in the stands, however hard the disruptive "fans" want to be. Spain go into the knock-out stage and will feel that they can really push on now and raise the level of their game as they never really seemed to extend themselves in the last two. I feel that they will be watching tomorrow, wanting England to top the group, as playing them will be a harder  barrier to break down than the French defense.

                                                                                                                                                                        
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