Saturday, 9 October 2010

Tactic’s Shmatic’s…

European Championships, Qualifying Group I, Synot Tip Arena, Prague; Czech Republic 1, Scotland 0

Scotland's Jamie Mackie competes for a header with Marek Suchy.
Not one of Scotland’s finest nights, but Craig Levin’s tactic’s seem to have detracted from how badly Scotland kept possession.  Worryingly this is the second international on the trot where Scotland’s poor technique on the ball has translated into a poor performance.  That the world’s best exponents of possession football are Scotland’s next opponents should be a worry to Levein, on current form, Scotland will struggle to hold on to anymore than 5 minutes possession out of the 90. 
Touted in various quarters as 4-2-2-2 or 4-1-5 or ever 4-6-0, it eventually panned out as 4-2-4 when Scotland were going forward.  There was however on glaring fault with the system, the quality of passing from the back four was utterly dire.  As a result, in the first half McManus & Weir kept on hoofing the ball towards the space vacated by the lack of a centre forward.  Which resulted in possession being given back to the Czech Republic.
It was a tactic which seemed to work well in the first half, as the Czech Republic seemed to be becoming more and more frustrated.  The second half however saw the Czech Republic step up a gear.  Kadlec had a chance saved by McGregor, who also made a great save from a Polak header.  Scotland were looking like a team needing a change personnel as the tactics that had worked to some effect now stopped working, Miller prehaps should have been on for the last 25 minutes of the game (or at least we should have gone to 4-2-3-1 with Mackie in front of Morrison, Naismith and Dorrens with Caldwell & Fletcher acting as midfield anchors).
The goal was a criminal goal to concede.  From a corner, a Rosicky header was flicked on by the former Hearts forward Roman Bednar to the defender Hubnik, who had found some space to head home from metres.  Scotland had deployed a zonal marking system, but still should not have afforded Hubnik the time to get into position to head home.
The game then opened up, with Scotland switching to a straightforward 4-4-2, but crucially still could not put together enough fluid passing moves to trouble the Czech Republic.  The Czech’s on the other hand were able to break at speed and pick out space, looking way more comfortable on the ball than their Scottish opponents.  In the end, with superior technique and a desire to win, the Czech’s deserved their win.
While the result will not be a disaster (the Czech Republic are now on 3 points, one behind Lithuania and Oh ourselves – Spain lead on maximum points), it will be the manner of the defeat, especially the controversy surrounding the formation and the “dropping” of Kenny Miller (BTW, Mackie did ok, even if he was played out of position.  He deserves an opportunity as the forward in Scotland’s regulation 4-5-1 formation) which will ensure a tough couple of days for Craig Levein.  Of more concern should be the lack of basic football technique from some of the Scotland players, who were wasteful in possession, and awful in retaining it.  Perhaps some video’s of Spain’s run in South Africa is in order for the Scotland team to look at and to learn from…  before the real thing visits Hampden on Tuesday.


  1. Can Spain do a Switzerland? Unfortunately I don't think so. That 'tactic' involves hell of a lot of discipline, good tackling and most importantly, LUCK. Spain missed 4 chances they'd normally bury, plus remember Alonso's shot that almost broke the bar? 9 times out of 10 Spain will win such a game, so basically Scotland have to play well and just hope.

  2. Can *Scotland* do a Switzerland