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The Portuguese Win

Portugal won in Denmark  after 40 years. The goal was late, but the victory was well supported and deserved. But let’s get to some statistics that support this opinion. First of all, Portugal had some intensive offense. Something we didn’t see against Albania. But the most interesting fact is that even thou Portugal didn’t play with a striker, a player always camped in the center back of their defense, to fight for every possession, they managed to make half the shots inside the box.


This is a strategic intension with the three offensive players always changing sides and presenting some variations along the 90’ minutes.

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Defensively Portugal changed the way they played against Albania and even France. The block was a little more close to the defensive area, the lines were closer, leaving no space between them and the three offensive players who got more involved in this process, helping them to block Denmark’s game in the lines. The midfield trio was mutating in the game. Defensively they presented themselves in line, but offensively, Moutinho was free to go and help Ronaldo, Nani and Danny. Tiago and William were more cautious, only supporting the lines, and keeping the team together.

 

Defensively Portugal changed the way they played against Albania and even France. The block was a little more close to the defensive area, the lines were closer, leaving no space between them and the three offensive players who got more involved in this process, helping them to block Denmark’s game in the lines. The midfield trio was mutating in the game. Defensively they presented themselves in line, but offensively, Moutinho was free to go and help Ronaldo, Nani and Danny. Tiago and William were more cautious, only supporting the lines, and keeping the team together.

VideObserver analysis software shows us how the defensive block was closer to the area, where they waited for Denmark to pressure the ball:

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This Portuguese ability to keep the lines together, occupy effectively its defensive midfield and counter attack with pace, velocity and objectiveness, was crucial for two reasons. First not to suffer any goal against an historically difficult opponent, and second to keep Denmark defensive alert and uncomfortable in the game. Just a note to the amazing Ricardo Carvalho’s exhibition – Bendtner was too small for the 36 years old defender.

And if you look to lost balls statistics you can take some conclusions too:

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Although they lost 34 balls (mostly because of Portugal’s strategy – fast transitions), they kept the ball away from dangerous places. Only 3 balls were lost in its defensive midfield, given some security to the defensive process. In my opinion this was a result of Tiago’s return. He works like a clock, and knows how to help William and Moutinho.

Why am I talking so much about the portuguese defense? Because not suffering goals was half the way to win this game the way they won it.

Like Ancelotti said last week, when you have Ronaldo, you start the game winning 1-0.  So if you defend well and Ronaldo is on your side, victory is almost certainty – does it matters if it’s in the second minute or at 95’?

What Ronaldo did was the expected. What’s new in this Portugal’s team are the new old pals. Carvalho, Tiago, Danny and Quaresma were in the spot light for good reasons – specially the attitude and the will to show us they deserve this chance. But in a team playing in the limit, obligated to win, these players gave the experience, security and stability they need.

Portugal got a new life with Fernando Santos. Let’s just watch how far can they go.

 

 

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Mauro Saraiva

Mauro Saraiva

Mauro Saraiva, a 27 years old coach with a degree in Physical Education and 4 years of soccer coaching, scouter and team analyst. Currently is the Head Coach of a U12 youth team and team performance analyst in a U17 National Championship team. Mauro Saraiva, treinador de 29 anos com licenciatura em Educação Física e Desporto com 5 anos de experiência de treino de futebol, scouter e analista de desempenho. Actualmente é coordenador de escalão Sub-12 e analista de performance numa equipa Sub-17 do Campeonato Nacional de Juvenis. Email: msaraiva1987@gmail.com

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