Football Tactics For Beginners:Catenaccio

  Some people are etched in our collective minds, as are some legends and indeed, perceptions about such words and legends. When it comes to football,...

Latest Posts

Serie A’s Last Outsiders Part 1: Hellas Verona, 1984/1985

With the 2020–2021 Serie A underway, there is a general sense of uncertainty about a league that has fallen from the heights of its...

Have Opponents Got Used To Liverpool’s 4-3-3 Formation This Season

Liverpool are conceding goals at an alarming rate when you consider that they only conceded 33 Premier League goals throughout last season’s title-winning campaign....

A brief history of the footballing aesthetic (and its gradual death)

The death of football at its most beautiful peak, is nigh ‘Football is the beautiful game.’ A statement we have heard since childhood. Words which...

Southampton 2-5 Tottenham: Mourinho’s reply to his doubters

For the first time in his storied career, Jose Mourinho started a league season with a defeat. Facing a freshly reinforced Everton at home,...

How will Gareth Bale fit in at Spurs-A look at Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 formation

Multiple top-tier sources including BBC and the current Tier 1 Journalist Fabrizio Romano have confirmed that Spurs are in talks with Real Madrid over...

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal:Tactical Analysis – Willian, Gabriel superb in Arteta’s 3-4-3 formation

Lineups and Formation Fulham Fulham lined up in a 4-2-3-1. Rodak was preferred to new signing Areola in goal. The back 4 had Odoi (right), Bryan...

The European Resurrections of Ever Banega

It seems fitting that Éver Banega’s final bow in European competition involved him lifting the Europa League. Barring a surprise reversal in the future,...

Football Books

Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth [Book Excerpt]

The clip-clop of football boot studs on concrete echoed through the tunnel over the hum of distant crowd noise. A drenched team of players...

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

5 Books every Soccer fan needs to read before the FIFA World Cup 2018

The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and it's the perfect time to brush up your history and facts about the World...

France Vs Portugal Preview using xG: Closer than you think

In the build-up to the Euro 2016 Final, the hype has primarily been around France. This is obviously understandable; they’ve had a nearly flawless record, winning 5 out of their 6 games, drawing the other. They’ve scored the most goals (13) and created the most chances (88, equal with Germany) throughout the competition. They have arguably the two top performers so far in Payet and Griezmann, and the final is also on home soil.

However, I’m going to look into the two teams in more depth to see whether it is justified for be playing down Portugal so much. To do so I’m going to compare the two sides’ expected goals figures.

What is Expected Goals(xG) ?

Prior to comparing France and Portugal, the teams that both sides have played must be evaluated. It would be unfair to compare France to Portugal as France had a much tougher run.

Portugal have had to play: Iceland, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Wales.

France have had to play: Romania, Albania, Switzerland, Ireland, Iceland, Germany.

I personally consider both runs pretty equal in difficulty, and therefore believe the xG comparison to be a very valid one.

xG For:

France have appeared far superior to Portugal offensively so far in the competition. Ronaldo and co. have at times struggled to find the net whereas France, especially Griezmann, have been prolific. When you look at the raw goal figures, the gap is clear; Portugal have scored 1.20 goals p90, whereas France have scored 2.17 goals p90. However, when you look at expected goals, the gap in attacking ability is much closer than it appears.

France have outperformed their expected goals, with their ‘xG For’ efficiency at 1.33. This tells us that France have been lucky with their goal scoring form, and are unlikely to continue it.

Whereas Portugal have underperformed their expected goals, with their ‘xG For’ efficiency at 0.89. This tells us that Portugal have been unlucky in front of goal, and in most other scenarios would have scored more. The main reason for this is Ronaldo. At times he has seemed to have lost his goal scoring touch, particularly against Austria. However, on any other day Ronaldo would probably have scored 2 or 3 that game. Hence his open play goals are 0.85 times lower than his open play xG, which is rare for a player who tends to always outperform his expected goals due to the quality he possesses.

France are still the better attacking side, with 1.63 xG p90 relative to Portugal’s 1.35 xG p90, but as you can tell, this paints a picture of two sides who are much more evenly matched.

5

 

xG Against:

When you look at raw goal figures, France appear also like they have the stronger defence. Portugal have conceded more goals than France in the tournament so far with 5 relative to France’s 4.

But again, when you look at expected goals the figures are a lot more appealing to Portugal. Portugal have an xG against per 90 of 0.66, however France have an xG against p90 of 0.75. This tells us that the Portuguese defence has been the stronger over of the course of the tournament so far.

This makes sense as Portugal have generally been quite solid over the course of the tournament. William Carvalho has protected the back 4 well who haven’t had that much to deal with. It was the Hungary game solely which let down their record when they conceded 3 goals, however 1 dream half-volley and 2 deflections are 3 very unfortunate goals to conceded. This misfortune can be seen numerically in the graph below, with Portgual’s xG against efficiency being 1.14.

France on the other hand, despite conceding fewer goals, have justified the higher xG against figure due to some defensive frailties at times being exposed. In particular, the weakness of their fullbacks which was made especially clear in the quarter-final when Icleand deliberately targeted Evra. As a consequence, France have conceded 0.89 fewer goals than their expected goals against.

2

 

3

xG Difference p90:

4

Despite Portugal having the supposedly stronger defence, the table above shows that this does not out way the gap in their attack. France have the 2nd strongest xG difference in the competition with 0.88, and Portugal are 5th with 0.69, still making France the stronger side going into the final. But with the combination of France being very fortunate in attack and defence, and Portugal being unlucky in both attack and defence, the gap is much slimmer than one would expect.

5

Conclusion

It is clear that Portugal have been unlucky. They have some great creative players in Gomes, Mario and Moutinho with goal scoring threats of Nani and Ronaldo to finish it off. Another tool in Portugal’s arsenal is Quaresma, a fantastic crosser of the ball who may play a big part in targeting France’s full back weakness. However, in conclusion, I agree with the masses that France are the favourites. As stated at the beginning, going into a final on home-soil with the form they are on is unlikely to let you down, especially when you are the stronger team too. Although I wouldn’t write off Portugal too early.

Team xG data from Michael Caley (@MC_of_A)

Player xG data from Paul Riley (@footballfactman)

Related

China – The Relationship Between Society and Football and Why the Two Must Adapt to Progress

In 2012, the current President of China, Xi Jinping, stated his desire for the country to set its sights on a World Cup trophy,...

Promising Teams We Wished Made it to The Euros

The European Championship is considered one of football's most distinguished trophies, with teams battling it out for untold glory. But what of the teams who...

Why it makes sense for England to switch to a back three formation

England labored their way into the World Cup after beating Slovenia in the most depressing match involving a Slovenian since Melania married Donald Trump....

Tactical Analysis: France 3-2 England | England Fail In 3-4-2-1 Experiment

Gareth Southgate sent his team out in a 3-4-2-1 formation which became one of the most used formations during last year in the big...

Tactical Analysis: Brazil 0-1 Argentina | Glimpses Of Future Under Sampaoli As Brazil Waste Chances

The 2017 Superclásico de las Américas game between the South American rivals served as an intriguing curtain raiser to Jorge Sampaoli’s reign as the...

A History of the England Football Kit

In 1872, the first ever official international football match took place at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Glasgow. The match was between...

A Guide to Corruption in Brazilian Football

Corruption in Brazil as a whole According to the World Economic Forum, out of the 138 nations researched, Brazil is the 4th most corrupt nation...

Tactical Analysis- USA 4-0 Trinidad & Tobago

The US Men’s National Soccer team closed out the opening round of World Cup 2018 qualifying with a comprehensive and emphatic 4-0 victory of...

How Daley Blind helped Germany win the World Cup

Simon Kuper, during a 2015 sports data discussion with Balls.ie, on how Daley Blind helped Germany win the World Cup pic.twitter.com/xRflQCPIlC — Mohamed Moallim (@iammoallim)...

Latest Posts

Serie A’s Last Outsiders Part 1: Hellas Verona, 1984/1985

With the 2020–2021 Serie A underway, there is a general sense of uncertainty about a league that has fallen from the heights of its...

Have Opponents Got Used To Liverpool’s 4-3-3 Formation This Season

Liverpool are conceding goals at an alarming rate when you consider that they only conceded 33 Premier League goals throughout last season’s title-winning campaign....

A brief history of the footballing aesthetic (and its gradual death)

The death of football at its most beautiful peak, is nigh ‘Football is the beautiful game.’ A statement we have heard since childhood. Words which...

Southampton 2-5 Tottenham: Mourinho’s reply to his doubters

For the first time in his storied career, Jose Mourinho started a league season with a defeat. Facing a freshly reinforced Everton at home,...

Don't Miss

How to beat Pep’s Barcelona, with helpful advice from Bruce Lee, Samuel Johnson, and others.

Barcelona have started to dominate European football to such an extent that the drawing of group stages was inconsequential to them being pronounced favourites...

  The different methods to Marcelo Bielsa’s madness

The current Leeds United manager and arguably the most influential coach in modern football, Marcelo Bielsa is the subject of this analysis because I’m...

Hungary – The Golden Team that never quite made it.

When you look back at the history of past World Cup winners and European Championship winners the usual names by in large stand out....

Lifted Over The Turnstiles: Scotland’s Football Grounds In The Black & White Era

This most comprehensive book about old Scottish football grounds ever published, Lifted Over the Turnstiles contains almost 200 photos of 42 football stadiums here...

English Football and its “Get Stuck-In” Mentality

It was a glum group of players and supporters who filed out of Matlock Town’s Causeway Lane ground in 1982. Hyde United had lost...

Transfers

How will Coutinho fit in at Arsenal: Arteta’s new look 4-2-3-1 formation

English outlet, Express are reporting that Arsenal are considering a loan deal for Barcelona's record signing, Philippe Coutinho. The report indicates that Coutinho might have...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Where will Kai Havertz play for Chelsea? A look at Lampard’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation for next season

There have been several rumours surrounding Kai Havertz's transfer to Chelsea and Havertz's current boss, Peter Bosz has indicated that the winger might not...

Man United expected lineup against Sheffield United: Pogba & Bruno to start together for first time

Manchester United salvaged a draw against Tottenham in their first game post the lockdown. Their performance improved after the substitutions of Paul Pogba and...