Choosing perfect captain for semifinals of Euro-2016
Only 4 teams are left for Euro-2016, and we should find the most worthy one to have the captain's armband among them.
The captain offering for the last eight contained the main idea: to make the attacking players of France captains. There is hardly one who was upset seeing the captain's armband on the arm of Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet, but further two options have worked worse: the Welsh national team sent the Belgians home and Kevin de Bruyne with Eden Hazard got one assist for two.
It's time to move on to the semifinal matches, where there will be a very, very difficult choice to make.
When there are only two matches on the agenda, we will have to forget about the standard post division into matches suitable for captaincy and unsuitable ones. Our goal is to highlight key points in the semifinals, which will help to make the right selection of a captain.
Portugal — Wales. Don't be surprised, but the Portuguese still haven't won a single match in Euro-2016. They reached the semifinals with three draws in the group and victories in the playoff during additional time (Croatia) and in the penalty shootout (Poland). At that, the Portuguese have missed more than one goal just once: in the mad meeting with the Hungarians, which ended in a draw 3:3. After the group stage, the Portuguese national team re-orientated itself from a hard attacking team in a more cautious and defensive one, and Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani began to get far fewer scoring opportunities. The strategy works so far, and it's highly unlikely that Fernando Santos will change anything before the semifinal.
The Welsh national team safely passed the group stage, held a difficult match against the North Irish in the last 16 and slammed the Belgians in the quarterfinals. The Welsh counterattack game is perfected to the ideal, but the Portuguese are not going to play possession, which should sadden Chris Coleman and his wards. An even more deplorable fact is the absence of key midfield player Aaron Ramsey, who has been disqualified. It was Ramsey who tied the strong defense with Bale, Robson-Kanu and Vokes, and it's difficult to imagine how the Welsh car will go without its motor.
The Portuguese watch over their defense and don't rush into an attack in the playoff, and the Welsh attacking potential is greatly reduced in the absence of Aaron Ramsey: a cleansheet of the Portuguese seems very likely, and this is the case when the captaincy of the defenders is quite justified. Pepe and Raphael Guerreiro have health problems, but Fernando Santos has already demonstrated in previous matches that global rotation in the defensive line doesn't necessarily lead to a decrease in reliability.
Germany — France. The way to the semifinals for the French national team resembles an easy stroll: the group stage with the Romanians and Albanians, and the match with the Swiss in a half-reserve composition, followed by playoff games against Ireland and Iceland: the «three-colored» didn't ever have to put any serious effort. Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet had made many goals and collected a lot of goal passes, instilling a hope in the French fans that the home tournament will be really won. The French national team approaches the semifinals in a wonderful mood and without personnel losses.
The German national team had an easy stroll through Euro-2016 too until they ran into the Italians, who made the bundesteam work hard for 120 minutes and lost only in the penalty shootout consisting of 18 strokes. The consequences for the Germans proved to be more than serious: Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira were injured, and Mats Hummels was disqualified. Besides these three losses, there's also Bastian Schweinsteiger, whom the doctors are trying to quickly put on his feet. Joachim Low will have to change the composition drastically, and the big question is how much it will affect the quality of the game.
It's very likely that the Germans will play on 1:0 trying to keep the ball a lot and to neutralize the fiery French attack. This tactic almost worked with the Italians, but one must admit that the selection of attacking players in the French team is much more impressive. At that, the «three-colored» activated only in the second half in the match with the Irish, and the team won't either fly forward against the Germans. Contrary to expectations, the match may turn out «grassroots», and its fate will be decided by either one ball in the end or by the additional time with a penalty shootout.
There is no obvious favorite or predictable scenarios, and choosing a captain from this match is a huge risk in such a situation. Though of course, we will study the statistical success of the Germans and the French in the final statistical table and then make the final decision.
Call to bookmaker
Our marker is the individual total more than 1.5 reflecting the attacking potential of each of the semifinalists.
Portugal — 2.57
France — 2.91
Germany — 2.95
Wales — 3.76
The Portuguese have the highest chances to score 2 and more goals in the semifinals, but it amounts to just 37%. This is another important argument in favor of the captaincy of a defender.
Perfect captain for semifinals of Euro-2016
The statistical table shows the achievements of the Germans, the French, the Welsh and the Portuguese in Euro-2016.
The statistical table helps to highlight the best attacking players in each team: it is Griezmann, Payet, Ozil, Kroos, Bale and Ronaldo. However, we have decided above that the scoring potential of the semifinals is low, so the defenders with the best attacking actions have also been added to the table. The Portuguese have the most likely cleansheet, so the choice must be made among them.
The Portugal — Wales match comes first, therefore the composition will be known at the collection of the teams. It means that the potential absence of Guerreiro and Pepe doesn't create any risks.
The captain top for the semifinals of Euro-2016 from the «Goose and water» blog:
1. Raphael Guerreiro (Portugal)
2. Pepe (Portugal)
3. Cedric Soares (Portugal)/Eliseu (Portugal)