Italy vs Wales was an almost totally one sided encounter. Italy dominated.
Italy vs Wales Stats
|Attempts on Goal||23||3|
|Attempts on Target||6||1|
What did Wales do right?
The first 15 minutes or so of the game were great. Wales were closing down the midfield and the Italians were reduced to putting in long range balls which Wales looked like they could have dealt with all day.
Wales put plenty of bodies forward on the counter attack.
Generally a solid performance
Where did all the problems come from?
The final 65 minutes where they stopped closing down the Italians.
When you give a midfielder time to pick out his pass you are asking for trouble.
All the opportunities that Italy created came from one thing. Having time on the ball to pick out the pass.
Wales know better than this.
The Turkey game
Turkey did the exact same thing with them. Turkey stood off the Welsh midfield and this gave the midfield time to create what seemed like a hundred chances against Turkey.
Unfortunately, Wales did not do this with Italy.
Like I said, Wales generally played very well but the one thing they did not do, closing down the midfield, was a/the huge issue.
The Italians were constantly on top of the Welsh players in possession, this is the key to their success.
As the stats show
Two things happen when you don’t pressure the midfield.
You create chances for the other side because they have time to pick out their next move, as the stats show.
Secondly you can’t get possession if the other team has time to pick out their passes. The more time you give a player the more accurate the pass is going to be, making interceptions less likely.
And if you are not winning possession back through interceptions and/or bad passes by the other team, you have to make tackles to get the ball.
Wales didn’t pressure the Italians which directly led to Italy having almost twice the possession, twice the number of passes, seven times as many shots and six times as many shots on target and a higher pass accuracy rate.
And all because Wales weren’t closing them down in the final third of the pitch.
Ramsey’s missed chance.
A great example to illustrate my point. The move started with a loose pass by an Italian who was put under pressure.
The chance itself, you could argue that Ramsey should have hit it first time between the keepers legs to make it 1-1.
Easy to say after the fact. It seems that Ramsey was hoping to get a bit of support, play it across the box for someone for a tap in.
How likely was this scenario? Unlikely in the extreme, with any top level team, you are not going to get time to have a little dribble in the box while you wait for your team mates to turn up. There are exceptions to the rule but personally I think you have to play the percentages, always.
What is more likely to lead to a goal? Taking a shot between the keepers legs or waiting and hoping that the Italian defense is going to be slower getting to you than the Welsh support?
Unless the Welsh player is already with you, you have to take the shot the first time. This was a golden opportunity.
No questions he has the ability, he needs to let his body do the talking and leave his brain out of the decision making process.
The Italian goal
Clever. Naive defending from the Welsh. Hopefully they will learn from this, in situations like this make sure the opposition player never gets in front of the defender and if they do make sure you are positioned in between that player and the goal.
The Italian missed chances
So many chances but again, they all came from lack of pressure. It’s a simple fix.
The Italian Free Kick Off the Post
Again, naivety fully exposed. Italy made their own wall in front of the Welsh wall. So the Wales built their wall around the Italian wall……. Obviously the Italians ducked when the free kick was taken leaving a huge gap for the ball, luckily the ball went around the wall.
The last twenty minutes
Again, a complete horror show of constant Italian pressure but again, all down to not putting pressure on the Italians in the Welsh thrid of the pitch.
Wales have got something
I think Wales can do something in Euro 2020 but I’m not sure if the team believes it.
Do they think they are participating in the Euro 2020 or do they think it’s their responsibility to win it?
Wales exposed the weaknesses in the Italian side (they are vulnerable if they are put under pressure) and the Italians exposed the main flaw in the Welsh play (Wales don’t pressure in their final third).
If Rob Page can drum into them, that closing down is an absolute necessity, that closing down absolutely must be done, if they want to conserve energy, to create chances, to score goals and to win games then Wales have what it takes.