Blogg: Sašas «Tour de France»: Goals, patterns and Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

Tekst Saša Ibrulj

Oh Michel, what have you done? This tournament produced so many ugly and poor matches that now we are – at least I am – frustrated and sick of watching it. Not many things killed – or better said wounded – my will to watch and enjoy football, any kind of football, but the last two that Portugal played, and some other teams in this tournament, did.

I wrote yesterday that there is nothing wrong in playing ugly as long as you are winning and that is still the truth. It’s just that Michel Platini and his greedy voters expanded the tournament and now we have 51 match instead of 31, which means teams like Portugal or Poland have to play it more often, have bigger safety net in the group and and they don’t mind ripping our nerves apart because they are doing what they need; winning matches. Boring matches.

Fernando Santos has copied his plans from Croatia match to this one, but things changed after Lewandowski scored in 200th second. Let’s be honest here; it’s not like Poland had some big attacking idea, they obviously wanted to wait a chance the opposition to make a mistake, but in their case, it came in the opening seconds of the match. However, there was one thing that Nawalka did to try to control this match – he moved Grzegorz Krychowiak very deep, almost in the line with his centrebacks, so he could take the ball and build the attack from there. That worked perfectly for first 20 minutes, but then Santos reacted. He has stuck brilliant Renato Sanches on Krychowiak and neutralised the midfielder completely. Portugal took over control, the moment of Renato’s brilliance brought them the equaliser and it looked good after half an hour.

There is where this match was finished. Both sets of teams just turned off, both coaches stepped back and hoped that rare chances for Ronaldo or Lewandowski after long balls could bring them something. Nothing happened, we went to another long and devastating night, another penalties and another Portugal win. They are in the semis, with no win in the regular 90 minutes of football. Yes, Michel, 24-team format was a great idea.

But, at least there is a clash between Belgium and Wales tonight, two teams that combined 15 goals in the first four matches, that can’t be bad? Or?

Belgium did look good against Hungary and that sounds promising. After all, there are not many as potent attacking teams as Belgium. However, the most of the Wilmots era was based on disciplined defending and waiting for the counters; they’ve reached the WC quarterfinal and won the place here in France playing like that. When in possession, Belgium is without ideas and this is another frustrating thing; they have so good individuals and look like an attractive team worth of paying ticket to watch. In reality they play completely different than that; just waiting for chance to break. Find their goals from the World cup to today; they have a same pattern.

Wales on the other hand was always a team like that. They have Gareth Bale and they use Gareth Bale. So, they as well sit deep and wait for the break. Or a free kick. And their fans are great joy, but their performances are not. This is why I am not expecting much from tonight’s match.

God, please, let me be wrong this time.

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