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How Can Teams Be Successful In International Football Tournaments?

With two of the biggest continental tournaments in Euro 2020 and Copa America currently underway in international football, we take a look at those teams who are tasting success in these competitions and what game plan is proving to be successful for them.

 

DEFENSIVELY COMPACT

A thing to remember here is that the international football calendar doesn’t allow the coaches enough time on the training ground to implement their attacking philosophy. So most international managers get the flak of being conservative. But considering the circumstances, you can’t blame them. It is easier to get the defensive unit together rather than the attacking movements, hence most teams who are on the defensive side seem to get greater success.

Just take the example of the current world champions France under Didier Deschamps or the defending champions of the European Championship, Portugal under Fernando Santos. Both managers don’t compromise their defensive solidity for anything so much so that one of Portugal’s best players Bruno Fernandes couldn’t even get into the starting XI regularly at Euro 2020. Hence, most of these pointers for a successful international football team are based on defensive fundamentals.

 

LETHAL ON COUNTER-ATTACK

If your team is defensively compact then you need players who are fast on the ground and have the ability to get up on the other end of the pitch in virtually no time. If a solid defensive unit is important, then having the ability to punish the opposition on counter-attacks is equally important.

France won the FIFA World Cup back in 2018 by exploiting the pace of the attackers in Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Greizmann. The importance of counter-attacks has become apparent in the current tournaments in international football as well.

 

ABILITY TO BE FLEXIBLE MID-TOURNAMENT

Tournament football springs different surprises for every manager and these coaches need to have the ability to switch systems on an every-game basis and can’t be rigid in their approach when it comes to football systems. We saw a key example of this in the match between England and Germany.

England’s manager Gareth Southgate recognised that Germany’s attacking outlet was through their wing-backs who are always extremely high up the pitch. Even though England played a 4-3-3 system throughout the group stage, Southgate switched to a back three for this match to match Germany’s system and it worked wonders. England were able to pull off a famous victory to be through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.

 

ROTATION IS THE KEY

Many ex-players have often talked about the importance of rotation in the squad in these high-profile tournaments. These competitions usually take place in less than a month where matches are cramped for most teams and most players come into the tournament on the back of a gruelling season with their football clubs.

So midway through the tournament, many teams seem to lose steam and this could prove to be the fine margins in knockout football. Rotation is even more important in these tournaments given that managers can now use up to five substitutions in a game.

 

NOT FAZED BY PENALTY SHOOTOUTS

More often than not in tournament football, a team would come across a penalty shootout. It just seems inevitable given how these knockout matches are played. So teams can’t be fazed by a prospect of a potential penalty shootout and coaches need players who would embrace these situations. No matter how much practice a team would do on a training ground on penalties, no team can replicate the pressure a penalty shootout brings in a stadium packed with spectators. During such times, you need players with big characters who are willing to soak in this pressure to give you the success you need to ace these tournaments.

 

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