UEFA's team of technical observers at UEFA EURO 2012 is finalising analysis of the 24 group games – but is anxious to avoid jumping to conclusions.
"A 31-game final tournament gives very little scope in terms of indicating long-term trends," says UEFA's technical director, Andy Roxburgh, "so it's a question of taking an overview of the whole tournament and correlating it with other observations that we've made in top competitions like the UEFA Champions League."
During the early part of the group stage, Roxburgh and his team of current or former national team coaches was asked to comment on the high number of headed goals which, at one point, reached 40% of the total. "We were reluctant to do this," says Roxburgh, "even though it's an interesting angle. We have to take a more global perspective rather than a day-to-day one. The percentage has already dropped quite sharply and we may find that, by the time the final has been played in Kyiv, we'll be pretty much back to previous levels. That's why it's risky to talk about 'trends' at this stage."
The technical team has made a half-time substitution. Fabio Capello has left for Colombia and the United States to fulfil commitments with Lionel Messi's foundation. His place has been taken by Holger Osieck, the current Australia coach who worked with Franz Beckenbauer when Germany won the FIFA World Cup in 1990.
For logistical reasons, the technical team has been split into two groups – one in Poland, one in Ukraine – and there's been a constant flow of electronic communication between Warsaw and Kyiv. Prior to the final, the entire team will assemble in Kyiv to compare notes and discuss the issues that they think are the most relevant from a coaching perspective.
"We'll be looking at a wide variety of topics, ranging from team shapes to areas like exploiting the flanks or the role of the lone striker," said Roxburgh. "The idea is to provide a permanent record of the event and to pass on information that we feel might be useful to the national associations who aren't here and to those responsible, at youth development levels, for helping to produce the stars of future EUROs."
Apart from detecting tendencies at the top end of the game, the technical team will also, at their meetings in Kyiv, select a Team of the Tournament and a Player of the Tournament – Spain's Xavi Hernández taking the latter award in Austria and Switzerland four years ago.
Andy Roxburgh's technical team comprises Jerzy Engel (Poland), Dusan Fitzel (Czech Republic), Gérard Houllier (France), Lars Lagerbäck (Sweden), György Mezey (Hungary) and Holger Osieck (Germany) with Jean-Paul Brigger and Walter Gagg representing FIFA and Mordechai Shpigler acting as link man to UEFA's Development and Technical Assistance Committee.
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