By Jairam Gopal
International competitions usually exhibit two kinds of teams. While some are very defensive minded, looking to score through counter attacks… the other set of teams are more expressive possession-based teams. Euro 2020 was no different from the other international tournaments but this time we saw the expressive teams coming on top. This piece here analyses certain parts of the game a defensive minded team (Finland) and an offensive minded team (Belgium) gave emphasis to and how Belgium encountered a situation in a different way, which is commonly posed by defensive teams these days.
*It is to be noted that every time I use the term halfspace, I will most probably be referring to the more offensive part of the halfspace inside the opponent’s shape and not the deep halfspaces.
THE DEFENSIVE SET UP
Finland used a 5-3-2 formation and Belgium used a 3-4-3. Most defensive minded teams in the tournament played a 5 man defense and 3 midfielders to screen the defense. Why they do this is elaborated in my previous article using Finland’s defensive structure as an example. What is significant in this structure is that it has two wide centre backs who can mark any player operating in the half space and has wide centre midfielders who restrict passes into the halfspace using their cover shadow. This defensive emphasis on halfspaces makes it very difficult for opponents to penetrate the defense.
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