Is it Euro 2020? 2021? Whatever it is, it is finally here. After a delayed summer (of life in general) our first big international football tournament is upon us with lots of wagering options. I can’t wait.
First some general notes on the nature of these international tournaments and general trends…..
Some don’t realize that these teams have had about 2 weeks together before they play their first matches of the tournament. This has a big impact – in some obvious and not so obvious ways.
First off – the tactics are much less complex than what you see at the club level. They more closely resemble a 14 year old YMCA league than high level club soccer. For the most part – you see 4-4-2 or 5-3-2 or a simple derivative. The managing expertise is usually less than at the club level – so while tactics matter when analyzing these games – these managers just don’t have as many bullets in their guns as do club managers. Think all star games in American sports – short notice combined with little coaching prep time and complexity results in way different styles of play than regular season games.
This leads to a lot of set play goals. In normal big 4 European Leagues, the percentage of set piece goals is right around 20%. In the 2018 World Cup, that number was doubled at right around 39%. So while the good club teams have recently developed advanced tactics of counter-attack, short passing attacks, quick change of tactics, playing out from the back with major GK involvement, and space creating schemes – this is often ignored in international tournaments out of necessity in favor of more standard pass pass pass shoot or get fouled and try your luck from a set piece.
One noticeable difference that seems to be catching on in international soccer is the high risk high reward tactic of playing out from the back rather than kicking long on GK touches or deep defensive possession. In almost every friendly in the last 10 days or so – I have seen this over and over. Even tiny Malta did this (to their peril) – insisting to play out of the back against a Kosovo side that was continually picking their pocket and creating very dangerous scoring opportunities. But this is the way of the future. Playing out of the back is a necessity for better sides these days – and GKs have become very skilled with their feet and in charge of making very quick decisions. This also leads to unexpected consequences and potentially more goals on both ends of the pitch. It is yet to be seen how much of this we will see – but I anticipate quite a bit.
Order of games in the group matches is very important and often ignored by bettors. Many sides play to their schedules – and set up and tactics are supportive to this – and most importantly – player personnel. Keep this in mind when analyzing any match in the group stage. Also, out of the 24 teams only 8 will be eliminated in the group stages and seeding is less important for the knock out rounds because of the lack of a single dominant team. This means that 4 of the third place group sides will get through – which greatly changes strategy in the three group games for some of these teams on the bubble.
Teams can do very well with low scoring draws early. In 2016, Portugal won the tournament by winning only 1 match out of 7 in 90 minutes. That is an almost unbelievable stat. Greece won the tournament by scoring 7 goals in 6 matches.