The delay of the finals due to the COVID-19 crisis only built up the curiosity of soccer fans all around the world. The way Italy won the match and proved they are the champions of the game was worth every bit of the wait and anticipation the fans had. However, the early goal was a bit of a buzzkill for the fans and made the game less interesting than it could have been.
What Italy employed to bag the remarkable win were some of the best soccer formations and tactics most coaches use today. If you want to make these formations and tactics a part of your coaching regime, you can learn how to do so at Blazepod.com. Without any further ado, let’s look at how the game and tactics of these two teams compare.
The first thing to see when analyzing any game of soccer is the lineups of the teams. We saw the following lineups in the final game.
Italy stuck with their tried and tested 4-3-3 structure that proved pivotal to bring them to the final. The central defensive partnership between Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini was an invincible one as the two players knew the game and decision-making of each other extremely well, thanks to the time they spent together in club soccer.
The fullbacks of the Italian team were not as strong as they could’ve been, but that deficit was balanced by the concrete midfield support of Jorginho, Nicolò Barella, and Marco Verratti. The attackers Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa were just about the best the team could get.
England started the game with three players in the back. The all-rounder Kyle Walker was assigned the right side of the defense. Walker, along with John Stones and Harry Maguire, was ready to step ahead in possession or to find passes that penetrated the lines.
Another notable entry was that of Kieran Trippier, who was given the wing-back position on the right with Luke Shaw taking care of the left. The genius and composed duo of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips was tasked to be in the middle, a wise decision keeping in mind how these guys can escalate to aggression when the game needs it.
The lineups of both teams were as perfect as they can get. Let’s now have a look at how the game progressed.
The gameplay was every bit the thing you can expect from a game of this magnitude. Here’s how it progressed.
England’s Perfect Start
The opening goal scored by England in this game was the fastest ever goal at any final of the Euros. That can be credited to the tactics they used in the game. It was the 3-4-3 setup that made it possible for Harry Kane to drop deep. This was because two people in the midfield, instead of three, provided more space in the middle of the pitch – something that was shown in practice by the way the goal was built up.
Another thing that benefited England was the presence of the two wing-backs and three forwards who could easily overload the back-four of Italy. All that boiled down to Luke Shaw being free at the back post and he delivered an awesome finish to give the English a lead right in the start of the game.
The Italian Retaliation
Anyone with an understanding of football can see that the English did not have a better tactical approach to the game at the start. However, they did add an element of surprise to the game. Even though the teamsheet of the English lineup was leaked a full hour before the match, the Italians still didn’t expect the way the English delivered the game.
England did have a bold start, and they took a massive risk by sending men forward the way they did, but they soon realized that and stopped compromising their defense. This overly conservative approach allowed Italy to gain control of the proceedings as a result. It can be seen from the fact that the Italians retained more than two-thirds of possession following the first 15 minutes of the game, the time when England took a defensive stance.
England probably did this because they could not press in defense due to their numerical disadvantage. The fact that they had to face a back-four contributed to them dropping back. At that stage, England’s efforts were focused on preventing the progression of the ball centrally by the opposing midfielders. This led to the attackers not man-marking the full-backs.
This configuration had an obvious weakness in the wings, but Italy decided not to exploit it due to two reasons. First, the right side of the build-up system of the Italians included Giovanni di Lorenzo and he had to aid the center-backs, preventing him from an overlapping attack. Second, the left side could not play as effectively as they could have because of the absence of Leonardo Spinazzola due to his Achilles tendon injury.
The next notable moment in the game was Ciro Immobile being replaced by Domenico Berardi in the 55th minute. Italy decided to give the central attacking role to Lorenzo Insigne. This improved the possession game of Italy even more as Insigne was way happier than Immobile to drop deep.
England’s Questionable Decision
With the clock at 74 minutes, Trippier was taken off for Bukayo by Manager Southgate as he changed the formation to 4-2-3-1. This decision was not the best for England, to say the least. It deprived them of the main attacking weapons that they had, the wing-backs. England was still putting up a fight, but that proved inadequate to bag them the win.
It can be said that England got rewarded for their superior tactical strategy too early in the game. If they had not scored in the second minute, Southgate would not have changed the formation, weakening the attacking power.
However, it all came down to penalties for deciding the game, which is the single most painful thing about any final. Lastly, it was probably the mounting pressure that led to England losing the game. Italy coped better with the emotional outcomes of the way the game progressed because they had already undergone a similar situation a few days back.