Spain 2-1 Germany: Rodri's influence on and off the ball

Spain 2-1 Germany: Rodri's influence on and off the ball


UEFA technical observers Avram Grant and Aitor Karanka analyse Germany's attempts to contain the influence of Spain midfielder Rodri.

Rodri celebrates Spain's extra-time victory over Germany

With  their EURO 2024 quarter-final triumph over Germany , Spain achieved more than one notable milestone. Not only was this their unprecedented fifth straight victory at a EURO, but it was also their first win against Germany on German soil since 1935 and came courtesy of their latest winning goal at a major tournament, Mikel Merino's decisive header arriving in the 119th minute.

According to UEFA technical observers Avram Grant and Aitor Karanka, it was also a game full of intriguing tactical details and momentum shifts. Working together with the UEFA technical analysis unit, the observers highlight below one point in particular – the way Germany looked to limit the influence of playmaker Rodri and how Spain responded.

The video below begins with an example of Germany's efforts to nullify Spain in possession. In the first half they applied high pressure and the focus of clip one is İlkay Gündoğan sticking tight to Rodri.

image Tactical Analysis: Germany's attempts to contain Spain

We see Gündoğan tracking Rodri as he drops into his own half to collect from Aymeric Laporte. Rodri, with Gündoğan close, returns the ball to Laporte and even when it ends at the feet of goalkeeper Unai Simón, the Germany midfielder has eyes only for Rodri.

On this aspect of Germany’s first-half display, the observers said: "The key was Gündoğan going after Rodri, man to man. Gündoğan was chasing him everywhere and Germany didn't let Spain build up. They marked very well in the first part of the first half and dominated with their pressing."

With Germany's efforts to restrict Rodri's ability to dictate with the ball, he had his fewest touches in normal time (73) since Spain's opening game against Croatia (also 73) – considerably fewer than his 108 against Italy and 131 against Georgia.

That said, clip two shows Rodri turning the tables, namely by dragging Gündoğan with him to open up the passing lanes for Laporte as Spain build the play in the lead-up to the opening goal.

First Dani Olmo comes short to collect and then, with Gündoğan following Rodri, Álvaro Morata is the next man to receive from Laporte, feeding Lamine Yamal on the right.

It is worth highlighting Olmo's participation too. The Leipzig-based player is involved at the start of the move, bringing Toni Kroos over to the left as Spain create space for Morata to step into. As the move unfolds, Olmo then begins his run towards the box, accelerating at the perfect time to ensure he arrives unmarked to connect with Yamal's ball and apply a first-time strike past Manuel Neuer.

For Olmo, an early replacement for the injured Pedri, it was his second goal of the finals after coming off the bench and he later got his second assist with the cross for Merino's winning header. "As soon as I saw that Dani had the ball, I knew he had a lot of quality and that he would put an amazing cross in," said Merino.

The technical observers also noted that both coaches used all six of their permitted substitutes – and all three goals came from men who had started on the bench. In the group stage there were seven added-time goals by substitutes which earned a win or a draw for their team. Here Merino was the latest substitute to have a decisive late say, though it was Olmo who earned the Player of the Match award.

As the UEFA Technical Observer Panel concluded: "He came on as a substitute to fill the big shoes of Pedri. He was very dangerous, very involved in the game, scored a goal, provided an assist, and also did well out wide."

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