After their dominant display against Turkey in the tournament opener, many were probably left wondering if Italy are really that good, or if Turkey were being rated a bit too highly. Turkey were definitely disappointing against the Italians, but after another high-quality showing against a Swiss side that is typically hard to beat, Italy are now earning more praise as serious contenders for the 2020 Euros.Embed from Getty Images
It was an interesting start to the match, as it quickly became clear Switzerland would not be content with Italy having all of the possession like they did against Turkey. Early on, Giorgio Chiellini had a goal ruled out for handball and was soon after subbed off due to injury. With the game still goalless it seemed like it just might be Switzerland’s lucky day. Manuel Locatelli had other plans. The Sassuolo man started and finished a terrific goal just a couple minutes after seeing his captain leave the pitch. After a wonderful first-time pass on his weak foot to Domenico Berardi, Locatelli ran half of the pitch to Switzerland’s six-yard box, receiving the ball back from Berardi and slotting it home. It was a very fast buildup from Italy as Berardi took it all the way to the byline before dragging it into the path of the wide open Locatelli. Italy were able to use the space behind the Swiss wingbacks that just wasn’t there in the first half against Turkey. Like against Turkey, Italy focused their attack down the left where Leonardo Spinazzola made several dashes up the pitch, having a good effort on goal himself late in the half. Spinazzola’s advanced position allowed for Lorenzo Insigne to play closer to striker Ciro Immobile so that he wasn’t left isolated in the middle.Embed from Getty Images
Even though Switzerland had a fair amount of possession, they did not create any meaningful chances in the first half. Breel Embolo, who looked very sharp against Wales, struggled to get involved. He was unable to showcase his speed and strength against Italy’s veteran centre-backs which really could have been a mismatch in Switzerland’s favour. Wing-backs Ricardo Rodríguez and Kevin Mbabu were given much of the responsibility to start the Swiss attacks but the pair did not have much success with finding their forwards in the middle.
At half-time, Switzerland were looking for a spark with Mario Gavranović coming on for Haris Seferović who was very quiet in the first half. Similar to the match against Turkey, Italy were put under a bit more pressure to start the second half, with Switzerland pressing more and doing so higher up the pitch. Like against Turkey, Italy were able to use their quality in the midfield to work the ball out of their half and get a goal early in the second period. Locatelli was again the man to score after he was left with too much time to place his long-range effort into the net. After grabbing the all important second goal, head coach Roberto Mancini went for a more pragmatic approach to see out the rest of the match. Defender Rafael Toloi came on for Berardi as the shape of the team went from the usual 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, or a 3-5-2 when in possession with Spinazzola further up. Italy ended their evening with Immobile getting the third, as his effort from outside the box squeaked past Yann Sommer.
After Italy’s first two matches, it is fair to say that their label as a “dark horse” heading into this tournament was a bit harsh, and that they maybe should have been considered as genuine contenders alongside the likes of France, England, and Portugal. Though their squad lacks the star power of those other nations, their cohesion and collectiveness have been insurmountably impressive so far. Each player seems to know their role in the unit, with individuals like Spinazzola and Locatelli stepping up and revealing their quality. Mancini now has the opportunity to rest his key players against Wales on the final match-day of Group A, before they face off against their next opponent in the round of 16. Gli Azzurri should be full of confidence now and believing that they have what it takes to go very far in this tournament!
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2021 was the most successful year in the six year history of TheMastermindSite.com. Over the course of the year, we doubled our number of views, visitors, social media followers and email subscribers from where we left off in 2020. Our most popular feature and the aspect of our website that has gained the attention from pro club managers, former and current professional players, and writers from The Athletic, has been our tactical analyses all year long. So with that, here are the ten most popular analyses of the year, all written by Rhys Desmond in 2021.
The eleventh of July, 2021 will go down in footballing history as the day Roberto Mancini and his Italian warriors etched their name in the history books. After missing out on the World Cup in 2018 entirely, Italy snatched the European Championship from England, right under the Wembley arch.
Kausty and Rhys break down their thoughts from the final match between England and Italy, including Gareth Southgate’s substitutions, England’s penalty woes, and the Player of the Tournament going to Gianluigi Donnarumma. Be sure to follow the show @futbolmasterminds on Twitter and subscribe via Spotify and Itunes!
Euro 2020 has officially come to a close, with Italy crowned as tournament kings. England gave a mighty effort in the final to stop Italy from taking the crown, but as the match wore on there was only going to be one winner, and that was Roberto Mancini’s Italy. Nonetheless, the final proved to be an intriguing tactical battle. We break it all down in our Euro 2020 Final tactical analysis.
Calling all subscribers to TheMastermindSite.com, our Monthly Magazine for June 2021 has now arrived. This month’s issue features an analysis of England’s 2-1 win over Denmark and Italy’s 2-1 win over Belgium.
Following the conclusion of the Euro 2020 semi-finals, the Futbol Masterminds break down the semi-final games between Italy and Spain + Denmark and England. Declan then tries to convince John and Victor why Italy will win, with Victor and John pushing back with echoes of “It’s coming home.” Follow @futbolmasterminds on Instagram to see more … Continue reading Futbol Masterminds – Italy and England Through to the Final! But Who Will Win?
After the craziness of the Round of 16 resulted in France, Germany and Portugal all being eliminated from the competition, the match that was expected to take place in the Euro 2020 final will now come to fruition. Italy and England have been the two best teams at the tournament, and the only two teams to not only go unbeaten, but win all of their games up to this point. Here is a tactical preview of the Euro 2020 final battle between Italy and England.
In a highly contested affair, Italy and Spain played out a 1-1 draw after extra time, and needed penalty kicks to settle the match. After missing just one of their spot kicks, Italy sent themselves through to the final of the tournament, extending their impressive unbeaten run to 33 matches in all competitions. Here is our tactical analysis of the match!
When establishing a style of play, all top-level managers face the same pragmatic questions: How will positional defenders become functional attackers (and vice versa) as changes in possession occur? Where is the balance between earnest advancement and cautious reserve? And how is that equilibrium expressed, implicitly and explicitly, on the team sheet?
Following the conclusion of all four Quarter Final match-ups, the Futbol Masterminds discuss the winners and losers of the round, and make their bold predictions for the semi-finals. Follow @futbolmasterminds on Instagram to see more of the show and subscribe via Itunes and Spotify!
Kausty and Rhys dissect all eight Round of 16 ties, including in-depth analyses of Gareth Southgate’s winning tactics for England against Germany, and Didier Deschamps’ losing tactics for France against Switzerland. Kausty has some choice words to say about Paul Pogba, but Rhys comes to the Manchester United man’s defense, calling it one of the standout performances from a player at the tournament so far.
Rhys and Kausty also disagree on how Southgate should progress his team moving forward, and make their picks for the final of this summer’s championships. Follow @futbolmasterminds on Instagram to see more of the show and subscribe via Itunes and Spotify!
The Euro 2020 Round of 16 was nothing short of exhilarating. The eight games were filled with end to end action and lots of last-minute drama, leading to some of the biggest international upsets in years. The first match took place at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam where Wales took on Denmark. Wales started … Continue reading Euro 2020 – Round of 16 Recap
Having progressed to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, many picked England as favourites to steal the crown at this summer’s Euros. Now heading into the Quarter Finals of the tournament, Gareth Southgate’s team remain unbeaten, without having conceded a single goal. Here is our tactical analysis of England at the Euros so far, and their chances of winning it all.
The knockout stage of an international tournament always serves as an emphatic reminder of what we all would claim to know: even the best laid plans can prove insufficient over the course of 90
minutes of football. And while the team who keeps their shape is often assumed to be in the ascendancy, adaptation undoubtedly preempts success; that is to say, some of the greatest examples of tactical prowess in sport are evidenced when the first blink leads to the last laugh. For instance, during their Euro 2020 round of 16 clash versus Wales, Denmark employed at least THREE different formations, modifications which ultimately tipped the result in their favor. Here, we take a closer look at the incentive and effect behind each change.
After the conclusion of Groups D, E, and F, the Futbol Masterminds get together to discuss all the events from the week that was at the Euros including those two massive 2-2 draws in the Group of Death! Follow @futbolmasterminds on Instagram to see more of the show and subscribe via Itunes and Spotify!
Having been placed in a group with Denmark, Russia and Finland, Belgium were certainly expected to top Group B. Roberto Martinez’s side did not disappoint in the group stages, winning all three of their matches and conceding just 1 goal. Here is our tactical analysis of Belgium at Euro 2020 so far.
The stage is set, and the Puskas Arena will be the venue for another round of rivalry between the defending champions of the European Championships Portugal and the current world champions France. The French will be hoping to cause the Portuguese a heartbreak of the same gravitas which they themselves suffered from the finals defeat in 2016, making this all the more an intriguing encounter.
After the conclusion of Groups A, B, and C, Rhys and Russell go through the alphabet to discuss all the events from the week that was at the Euros. Russell has some bold predictions as always – this time switching allegiances as to who he thinks is ready to win the tournament, and breaking down why Spain and England have been so poor. Rhys meanwhile breaks down the tactics of why Italy and Netherlands have been so successful so far, and what Belgium needs to figure out moving forward.
After another sound win against 10-man Wales, Italy have secured top spot in Group A and will face Group C runners-up Austria in the Round of 16. Now that the group stage is over for the Italians, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned about this side so far.