domenica 17 giugno 2012

Greeks did their part

Who predicted the Greeks to the quarterfinals? But they did it. Russian coach Dick Advocaat resumed the game: "There was only one team going forward and the other team just defended but we didn't put away our chances," he said. But Russia didn't create much clean scoring chances. Fernando Santos pick  a more defensive approach, fielding two holding midfielders and starting with Giorgos Karagounis as attacking midfielder. It was a 4-4-1-1. The Greeks started the game focused and remained in a constant counter-attack mode. Russian had territorial advantage but their passing play style resulted only in a steril possession. Santos' plan was simple: cover the pitch and play counter-attacks. Greece frustrated Russia and nullified their counter-attacking chances. In the open plays, Greece had a lot of problems to create so they relied on their strenghts. The only offensive scheme was to play a long ball from goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis to Giorgios Samaras on the left side. Greece's goalkeeper played 16 long balls and Greece relied on the 35m-plus long ball (26%) more than Russia (10%). When the ball hit the ground, the Greeks tried to play in the opposite half. Buth they pick a direct style of football as 39% of their passes hit forwards in their build-up. Russia forced Greece back into their own half but the Greeks are suited with this play. They didn’t attempt to press the Russian centre-backs, but started the pressure on their third. This pressure wasn't a real pressing action, with the Greeks that just was covering the spaces, withouth a real high pressure on the ball. But it was enough to close Russian passing lines. As full-backs Aleksandr Anyukov and Yuri Zhirkov had license to join the attacking trio of Alan Dzagoev, Andrey Arshavin, and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Greece's wingers Dimitris Salpingidis and Samaras was able to come back helping Greeks full-backs on the flanks. Karagounis started the game by dropping onto Igor Denisov when Greece went out of possession.

But with the Russian gaining field, Karagounis stopped chasing Denisov and went to help the central midfielders. His duties went to Fanis Gekas. He didn't a good job, sometimes leaving Denisov free. But despite he became free, Russian playmaker stayed  in front of the centre-backs and failed to add support forward. Greece barely had an attack, but they was able to score in the only real chance they had at the end of the first half...In the second half, Advocaat inserted forward Roman Pavlyuchenko but Russian still was unable to go through the Greek defense. They pushed more and more Greece back into their own half but, as I said, the Greeeks was comfortable defending so low. And Russian produced no quick passes and no movementes. Neither insert Pavel Pogrebnyak helped. At the end, Greece had a 31% of ball possession but conceded just 2 shots on target. They defended parking the bus in second half but Russia didn't do enough to win.

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