Czech Republic 2-1 Greece: 5 Tactics Which Made Average Czechs Look World-Class
Czech Republic are an average team at best, but in their 2-1 win over Greece in their Group A Euro 2012 clash, they were made to appear world-class.
Goals from Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar gave the Czechs a valuable three points at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw.
The Greeks just couldn't live up to their opponents, with their fatal flaws truly emphasised thanks to the tactics of Czech manager Michal Bilek.
Here's how Bilek's team exposed a very lacklustre Greece team.
One of the simplest tactics in the book, for large parts of the match Czech Republic closed down Greece all over the pitch.
This gave them little time or space on the ball and very few seconds to make decisions—resulting in a significantly lower pass success rate, much less possession, and most deleteriously the conceding of two goals.
Greece's rhythm was interrupted by the Czech's consistent pressure, with their players incapable of stringing together good link-up play instinctively.
To facilitate their closing down, Czech Republic manager Michal Bilek operated a man-marking system, with each midfielder and defender picking up an opponent when not in possession.
This allowed his team to close down the opposition quicker, and psychologically frustrate the Greeks, giving them less freedom to run into space and create openings.
Of course, though, this tactic was made to seem better than it actually was thanks to Greece's lack of creativity and any type of clever movement in the final third.
The Czech Republic pulled Greece's defence apart time and time again thanks to the passing triangles they deployed.
The quick link-up play between a winger, full-back and a central midfielder pulled the opposition out of position and created gaps for the likes of right-back Theodor Gebre Selassie to exploit and put in a cross.
It's a simple tactic used by a lot of coaches who like to see some good passes, but Greece failed to cope with it thanks to their slow defenders.
Speaking of slow Greek defenders, the easiest way for the Czech Republic to capitalise on their lack of pace was to attack them quickly with wingers, midfielders and full-backs all charging into their opposition final third at speed.
That's exactly what they did, and it worked. For both goals Greece conceded, their lack of pace was painfully evident as the Czech players simply breezed past before finding space to score.
One area in which Greece were particularly poor was at full-back, with Vassilas Torosidis and Jose Holebas either too slow, or too positionally unaware, and in some cases both.
The Czech Republic exploited this perfectly.
Gebre Selassie and Jiracek combined expertly on the right to get into space vacated by Holebas thanks to his attacking nature, while David Limbersky linked up with Vaclav Pilar on the left to get the winger in a race with Torosidis and beat him for pace.
In the first half especially, it worked like a dream, and was the factor which saw the Czechs score that second important goal.