The defending champions Portugal came into Euro 2020 on a high. Boasting one of the best attacking lineups of any European nation at the tournament, they were among the favourites to clinch Europe’s most prestigious national trophy, despite being in group F, a group which comprised of current World Champions France as well as Europe’s most successful footballing nation, Germany. It was eventually dubbed the group of death and that promise definitely didn’t disappoint.
HUNGARY 0-3 PORTUGAL
Portugal started their title defence against the Hungarians, a team which they failed to defeat on their way to the title in 2016.
It started as a rather cagey affair as the boys from Budapest, though on an 11 game unbeatable run, chose to defend and hit the Portuguese on the counter.
It all worked up until the 85th minute, when super-sub Rafa Silva was able to carve a way out for the Portuguese in the very compact defensive side set up by Italian tactician Marco Rossi.
The input of Rafa Silva appeared to be a master stroke by Fernando Santos, as he ended the game with 2 assists as well as winning a penalty which Cristiano Ronaldo converted, hence setting up the defending champions for a perfect start.
Read full match recap!
PORTUGAL 2-4 GERMANY
In their second match, the Portuguese traveled to the Football Arena in Munich to face a Germany side who had their backs against the wall. Criticism filled the German air after their opening fixture loss against France, just a few days before.
The game started on a high, as the Germans saw their first goal disallowed by VAR, when Robin Gosens was adjudged to be slightly offside in the build up.
Things quickly turned around for the Portuguese, and a very swift counter attack led by their all-time leading goal-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, sent Santos’ team into the lead. It appeared like the Portuguese’s never-ending nightmare of not being able to defeat the Germans in a major tournament was gradually coming to an end.
But some clumsy defending and a pair of own-goals from Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerrero all but cost the Portuguese the game, as the Germans eventually came from behind to wrap up the match 4-2. Hence putting an end to their bad form. Although they lost, they still had a thing or two to cheer about, as Renato Sanches performed admirably from the bench for the second match in a row.
Read full match recap!
FRANCE 2-2 PORTUGAL
Heading into their third game, the Portuguese knew they had to pick up at least a point to assure their qualification from the ‘Group of Death‘. It was a match filled with high stakes and grave mistakes, with both sides looking to prove their worth as the supposed best in the world. Being a rematch of the Euro 2016 final also raised the stakes, and gave both teams an extra edge to play for.
In the first half, Renato Sanches and Joao Moutinho dominated an incredible midfield pairing of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. Their performance in midfield saw Portugal gain some level of control and eventually led to the goal from a Moutinho free kick, where Danilo Pereira was punched in the face by Hugo Lloris. Unfortunately for the French, Cristiano Ronaldo rarely misses from the spot, and this time was no different.
But unfortunately for the Portuguese, their lead lasted just fifteen minutes before 15 minutes as what referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz made a dodgy, questionable decision to award France a penalty after a bit of embellishment from Kylian Mbappe on Nelson’s Semedo’s shoulder. Karim Benzema took advantage and dispatched the penalty, leveling the match at 1-1 before the halftime break. The second half then needed just 82 seconds to spark into life. Karim Benzema completed his brace after latching onto a glorious through pass from Paul Pogba.
At this point the Portuguese were on the brink of elimination, as the result Munich wasn’t in their favor. But as expected, Cristiano Ronaldo came up clutch again for Fernando Santos’ side after he forced a penalty off Benjamin Pavard’s understudy Jules Kounde. Again, Ronaldo doesn’t miss from the spot, and the Portuguese were back on track to head into the Round of 16.
With 4 points from a possible 9 available in the Group of Death, the defending champions were through to the next round.
BELGIUM 1-0 PORTUGAL
The Round of 16 tie against Belgium, expected to be a cracker, was quite disappointing as it appeared only the Portuguese came to the party. Up until the 42nd minute, Portugal were in control to clinch the win. That is until Borussia Dortmund‘s Thorgan Hazard sent Belgium into the lead with a thumping, curving strike out of nowhere. Aided by the wind, the swerve on the ball was one Rui Patricio couldn’t react to in time. But even then, the second half continued to be all about the Portuguese. Raphael Guerreiro had a great chance to score but found the post instead, and Thibaut Courtois came up with a few excellent saves to keep Santos’ team out.
It appeared to be a day of ill luck for the Portuguese, as everything they threw at the Belgians was successfully repelled. The final blast of Felix Brych’s whistle saw the Portuguese title defense come to an end. It was a knock out punch that saw many of the Portuguese players break down in tears, and certainly more broken hearts from Portuguese natives and supporters around the world.
Though they may have been knocked out prematurely, Fernando Santos’ team will definitely will bow out with their heads high. Players like Renato Sanches, Diogo Dalot and Joao Palhinha bring much promise for the future, as do even bigger stars like Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota. It is likely that Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo have played in their last ever major tournament, but the team have many young stars coming through the ranks that at the very least can try to provide two for the price of one in replacing them.
Portugal will however want to do better in 2022, as they set their sights now on the World Cup in Qatar.
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!
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.