As the second games in the group stages have got underway, the tension and the struggle for a place in the last 16 has heightened in EURO 2016. What was obvious in the first games was that each and every team in the tournament had a clear, concrete and reproducible strategy, except the Turkish national team. It seems that the teams either choose neo-total football based around domination of possession or a modernized version of counter-attacking where defending starts from the opponent's penalty box. Therefore, given this picture, there is no way that those who rely on individual talents and chaos can stick around at this level of football.The first group consists of Spain, Germany, France and England, but while the first two execute their plan with a high rate of success, the latter two struggle for both attractive game play and results.
The reason why France and England cannot use neo-total football as effectively as Spain and Germany is that their coaches, Didier Deschamps and Roy Hodgson, still hesitate to implement this strategy bravely and they are willing to turn to counter-attacking during the games. Thus, their way of neo-total football is a mixture of tiki-taka and counter-pressing, but rather than taking the advantages of both, they take the disadvantages of both due to their inexperience in such strategies.However, Spain and Germany are a completely different story and they leave no chance for the opponent other than counter-attacking. They always dominate possession and play their game entirely in the opponent's half. They shorten the length of their game, create passing options in dynamic set-pieces and start defending from the striker and start attacking from the stoppers. Thus, even though this piece is written before Turkey face Spain, the result is pretty much predictable. While one side organizes time and space for both defense and then attack, the other just kicks the ball into chaos.
On the other hand, we have modern counter-attackers in the tournament, such as Poland, Romania, Hungary and almost every other team except the big four that I mentioned above and Turkey. These teams know their present capacities and opt for a compact, fast and tough strategy with counter-pressing at its heart. What makes these teams effective and resilient against dominant teams is their new approach to defending, thanks to Diego Siemone and Atletico Madrid. Old ways of counter-attacking include deep and static defending, which is basically waiting for the opponent in front of the penalty box and when the ball is intercepted, playing long balls into the back of the opponent's defense.Nevertheless, this strategy is completely outnumbered and outgunned against Barcelona's tiki-taka, and can only work when encountered with a dull offensive strategy. Hence, the new way of counter-attacking, in other words, counter-pressing acknowledges the low potential and chaotic nature of classic counter-attacking. This strategy aims to prevent the opponent's attack without it becoming dangerous and tries to intercept the ball where it is dangerous for the opponent. The team conducts shock presses on the opponent's defense and midfield to catch them with few players at the back. Finally, rather than playing long, chaotic balls, these teams leave their side with at least four men and play the ball vertically.
To sum up, almost all of Europe seems to be convinced that football is essentially played between coaches, strategies and tactics. Football is a collective action and those who manage to organize individuals to act accordingly always has the upper-hand against those who still think individuals play football.