Ahead of the second Euro 2016 semi-final, Johannes Harkins uses Opta data to provide an analytical and tactical preview of the match.
With both teams looking to dominate the ball in their matches so far, understanding each team’s style in more detail will help the opponent prepare for this semi-final.
Germany average 97 possessions per game, joint 8th most with Turkey. France on the other hand sit with a low 91.8 possessions per game, giving them the 4th least. Despite this difference, both teams keep the ball for extended periods. Germany sit 1st in the tournament, averaging 22.2 seconds per possession. France are close with the 5th highest time per possession of 18.1 seconds.
In a German team that enjoys long periods with the ball, Toni Kroos’ influence cannot be under-estimated and France will look to prevent him receiving the ball. Against Italy, Kroos received 17 passes from left-sided centre back Mats Hummels, yet only two from the right-sided Benedikt Höwedes. Limiting Kroos’ supply from this region may prove beneficial to France.
Unsurprisingly both teams look to circulate the ball a lot when in possession. Germany average the 2nd highest number of passes per possession (6.9) with France sitting 4th (5.4). Both teams can expect long periods of build-up within the game, with the teams looking to disrupt the opposition shape.
Germany, however, show a strong appetite to win back the ball in the attacking third or by winning it back immediately. Germany’s average start location for possessions is further up the pitch than any team in the tournament (nearly 40m). France will have to get the best out of their dynamic midfield to counteract the German tendency to maintain pressure in the final third by winning the ball back.
Creating scoring opportunities
When it came to facing a more formidable opponent in Germany’s quarter final match with Italy, their ratio of shots to possession dropped off considerably, their only game below the tournament average ratio, in fact – reflecting a more cautious approach. Germany were clearly wary of Italy’s threat, enough to change their formation and style for the occasion to limit attacking pressure in favour of defensive stability.
Upcoming opponents France also present some plenty of reasons to be wary. Despite their relative dominance of the run of play of their games, they still can play extremely directly as shown by their high shots to possession ratio (4th highest in the tournament). So far in this tournament, France have generated a shot from every 94 seconds of possession, compared to Germany’s more measured approach of 104 seconds.
Absolute attacking width
A measure of a team’s tendency to pass wide in attack, this stat will figure to be crucial on both sides of the ball. By this measure, France have been relatively good at pushing their opponents wide in attack. Meanwhile, the German attack has been relatively stifled in games where they attack with more width. The shot totals for the German matches decrease in step with their attacking width, with their match against the Italians being the extreme example. In this match Germany was beyond the 75th percentile of Euro 2016 games in terms of attacking width and managed to muster only 12 shots as a result.
If the game does indeed revolve around German possession and France looking to combine quickly and break, Germany must push France wide when these attacks do arrive. Considering the amount of talent the French boast in their midfield and attack, an exposed centre of the German team would seem to be a recipe for success for the French. This side of the attacking width may well hinge on Joachim Low’s selection for Toni Kroos’ midfield partner to replace Sami Khedira.