Sport-locker.net preview the second semi-final at Euro 2012, as Germany take on Italy in Warsaw…
DEEP-LYING PLAYMAKERS AT HEART OF GERMAN AND ITALIAN EURO SUCCESS
In Italy’s dramatic quarter-final victory over England, midfielder Andrea Pirlo topped off a magnificent, dominant performance by scoring the most outrageous of spot-kicks in the penalty shoot-out. In the semi-final against Germany, Pirlo will go head to head with another deep-lying yet creative midfielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has overcome injury concerns to declare himself fit to face the Azurri.
Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that Pirlo has been far more of an attacking threat in the tournament so far, bagging one goal out of six shots. This compares to Schweinsteiger’s total of just three blocked attempts.
However, creatively, the Bayern Munich star has been in excellent form, prompting from a deep-lying midfield position and providing two assists and five chances in total. Pirlo also has two assists to his name, although he has also managed a haul of 14 goalscoring chances for team-mate, a total only four players can better.
The German star’s more defensive-minded role is borne out by the number of tackles he has made (10), more than twice that of Pirlo.
The influence of both players in their respective teams has seen them dominate games in the tournament, with only Spanish star Xavi (against Ireland) racking up more passes in a single game at UEFA EURO 2012™ than Pirlo (131 v England) and Schweinsteiger (118 v Greece).
Schweinsteiger initially began his career as a wide midfielder while Pirlo started off as an attacking midfielder. Now, both stars have developed into world class central midfielders, operating from the centre of the pitch, However, Pirlo’s penchant for prompting and creating just outside the danger area is highlighted by his passes into the opposing box. Schweinsteiger, on the other hand, despite his two assists, tends to keep the play moving rather than attempt a killer ball (see graphic below).
SCHWEINSTEIGER CURBING ATTACKING INSTINCTS
Schweinsteiger’s influential role in Germany’s impressive assault on UEFA EURO 2012™ has seen him less eager to muster a shot on goal. Indeed, according to Castrol EDGE Performance research, the midfielder has attempted just three shots (all blocked) in the current competition, compared to his haul of 12 over the course of the FIFA World Cup 2010™.
The Bayern Munich man also created a lot more chances in 2010 in South Africa as well as embarking on far more dribbles.
However, with playmaker Mezut Ozil blossoming into a world class player, Schweinsteiger is letting others get forward more often, and instead, getting on the ball more often, making a pass every 4.2 minutes at UEFA EURO 2012™ compared to every 8.4 minutes in South Africa.
As the Germans look for their first success at a major finals since Euro 1996, the form and influence of a maturing Schweinsteiger will remain central to their hopes of glory.