If you haven’t read the review of Italy’s game, you should do it here. «The kings of two footballing philosophies locked horns in the opening Group C game of Euro 2012: Catenaccio and Tiki-Taka; Italy and Spain.»
According to Opta, this was the first time Spain started without a typical striker. They actually came out in a 4-6-0, with Fabregas as their front man, but he was not a striker. How I saw their line-up:
As you can see from the picture above; it was a tactic set up for a large amount of passes, and that is what happened. Spain had in total 733 passes throughout the game, 647 of those were successful (88%). Spain also dominated in possession with 65.9% of the ball. If we compare that to Barcelona, which Spain reminded me of on Sunday; Barcelona had in La Liga 88.5% successful passes, the same as Spain had vs Italy. They also enjoyed possession 69.3% of the time in La Liga, compared to Spain’s 65.9% on Sunday. So it’s pretty much a replica of Barcelona without Lionel Messi.
Spain had in total 215 passes in attacking third, 172 of those successful (80%). Spain tried to break down the Italy defence with passing, they basically tried to pass the ball into the net. It was when I saw the “key passes” statistics I didn’t understand why del Bosque started without a striker. Spain had in total 16 “key passes” to create a chance, with Xavi passing 8 of those he was in many papers Man of the Match.
Not surprisingly Spain dominated the possession with their 65.9% – they also made almost the double amount of passes as their opponent – with their 733 passes compared to Italy’s 370. Xavi as said, was one of the key players in this game. He was involved in, a staggering, 196 of Spain’s 733 passes – played or received. He played 107 passes, the most of any player so far in the Euros, 44 of those passes were in the attacking third and 8 of those again, created a chance. As we can see in this player influence graphic, the trio in midfield were the most influential players on the field for Spain:
In total Spain attempted 18 shots, 6 of those on target. Italy fired 11 shots, 6 of those on target giving Italy a superior shot accuracy.
The only Premier League player that started for Spain was David Silva. The little Spaniard created the goal with an absolutely stunning pass to open up the Italy defence, he set up Fabregas 1 on 1 with the keeper. Throughout the match Silva was the best passer on Spain, finding a team-mate with 43 of his 45 attempted passes (96%). He made 26 passes in the attacking third, completing 24 of those (92%), 3 of those passes again set up a chance for Spain. Also a remarkable stat; none of his 46 passes, were backwards passes.
To close; the result was fair for both teams. Spain enjoyed the most possession, but Italy were sharper infront of goal. I think we’ll see this in all of Spain’s games through these Euro’s, and this match gave us a realistic ‘picture’ of what we’ll see from Spain. They do however need to get more of their attempts on target and create one or two clear-cut chances.
All statistics taken from FourFourTwo Euro 2012 Stats Zone