Home   Sport   Article

Charlie Christie: Euro 2024 has yet to catch fire

By Will Clark

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Turkey’s hard-fought win over much fancied Austria on Tuesday completed the line up for the quarter finals of Euro 2024 in what was one of the most entertaining matches so far in a competition that most would agree, has yet to really catch fire.

What has been apparent at the tournament so far is the huge importance of being able to counterattack with a purpose as was so expertly displayed by Turkey in that win. Whilst trailing, Austria pressed continuously for the last half hour of the match and had most of the possession.

But Turkey still created three golden opportunities to add to their two goals – all chances created by quick attacks after winning the ball back; ‘in transition’ being the current terminology used in coaching circles.

The rigid structure, tactical awareness and overall quality of the defending at the Euros has made the importance of being able to counterattack more important than ever.

Many of the lesser nations are now happy to allow the opposition possession if they can maintain their defensive structure in the knowledge that they have players behind the ball making clear cut chances extremely difficult to create.

The Slovakia versus England match was an example of this as Gareth Southgate’s side which includes an abundance of excellent attacking options found it almost impossible to breach the well-drilled Slovakian defence/midfield who simply refused to be caught on the wrong side of the ball.

In the end it took an old fashioned ‘long throw’ to finally create the chance that saved their tournament and probably Southgate’s job.

Those quarter finals include a matchup of my two pre-tournament favourites – Spain and Germany and their meeting this evening could well produce the eventual champions. I hope that Spain triumphas their style of football has been one of the highlights.

Their wide players, Lamine Yamal (16) and Nico Williams (21), have been a joy to watch so far.

Earlier in the tournament I attended all three of Scotland’s group matches and the reasons for our failure to progress have been micro-analysed ever since.

Wrong team selections, wrong formations, injuries and even lack of effort have all been cited as to why we didn’t create history as the first ever Scottish team to get into the knock-out phase of a major tournament, but hindsight is a great thing.

I certainly felt it was a missed opportunity and I must admit to being quietly confident whilst travelling to our final group match against Hungary that we were finally going to break our duck and progress.

With Kieran Tierney out I hoped that Steve Clarke might play a back four in a 4-2-3-1 formation which I felt would give the Hungarians more of a problem.

But it wasn’t to be and although we had plenty of the ball in that first period, we did very little with it and the Hungarian goalkeeper was never troubled.

The final 15 minutes so us having more of a go and the game’s major turning point came in the 79th minute when Stuart Armstrong was wrestled to the ground inside the penalty box.

I was right in line with the incident and immediately felt that a penalty would be awarded, and Scotland’s chance had arrived.

However, the Argentinian referee saw it differently and played on with VAR incredibly also not intervening.

A late Hungarian goal then rubbed salt in our wounds and led to the postmortem as to what we could have/should have done better.

For me the injuries to Dykes and Hickey and then Tierney were significant blows but our lack of genuine pace in wide areas was always going to present a problem in creating chances, and, unlike other nations, we simply do not counterattack with any real purpose.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More