Castrol EDGE Index Tournament XI also includes Ronaldo, Iniesta and Balotelli
For the second successive UEFA European Championship, Spain provided the winner of the Castrol EDGE Index, with Sergio Ramos taking the honour of strongest performing player in 2012 following a historic night at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium. This is Ramos’ second time of being crowned the best player at a major international tournament after the Spanish defender also topped the Castrol EDGE Index table at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A cornerstone of the holders’ impenetrable defence, the Real Madrid CF man finished just ahead of club-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who had led the standings since the end of the group stage. Gerard Piqué, Ramos’ centre-back partner, completes the podium; he is the second of seven Spain players in the top ten, including their entire rear guard.
CASTROL EDGE UEFA EURO 2012™ TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT
Iker Casillas (16th)
Spanish captain Iker Casillas was outstanding in goal for the victors. Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that he stopped 94% of shots against him – the best in the tournament and helping Spain to keep five clean sheets.
Jordi Alba (6th)
Jordi Alba was a constant threat for Spain at left back. Barcelona’s new signing made the third most touches in the tournament (576) and scored his side’s second goal in the final demolition of Italy. He was equally assured in his defensive work, with a 100% tackle completion rate.
Sergio Ramos (1st)
Sergio Ramos was commanding at centre back for Spain. The Real Madrid man made two last man saving tackles, helping Spain to concede only one goal in the entire tournament. Ramos also took an outstanding penalty in the semi-final against Portugal.
Gerard Pique (3rd)
Ramos’ partner, Gerard Pique, was arguably the most commanding defender at Euro 2012. He won 75.8% of his duels on the ground and made thirty clearances – the fourth highest in the tournament.
Alvaro Arbeloa (7th)
Although Alvaro Arbeloa is widely considered to be the weak link in the Spanish defence, Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that he made 20 tackles in Euro 2012, more than Alba, Ramos and Pique. The Madrid right back did not miss a minute of football.
Andrea Pirlo (11th)
Although Italy’s Andrea Pirlo was stifled in the final by Spain, he was nevertheless outstanding at the centre of the Azurri’s midfield. In addition to scoring a stunning free kick against Croatia, Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that Pirlo created seventeen chances during the tournament.
Andres Iniesta (5th)
Andres Iniesta was his usual dynamic self for Spain. The Barcelona schemer made 26 dribbles during the tournament and was unlucky not to score with nine shots on target.
Xavi Hernandez was outstanding once again for Spain, the European and World Champions. He made more chances (25), passes (592) and touches (676) than any other player in Euro 2012.
Xabi Alonso (4th)
Xabi Alonso scored twice for Spain during Euro 2012 and Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that had a chance conversion rate of 25%. The former Liverpool midfielder was equally important in defence – completing sixteen tackles for the victors.
Mario Balotelli (13th)
Mario Balotelli lit up the tournament, scoring both of Italy’s goals against Germany in the semi-final. Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that he had more shots on target than any other player during the tournament. The confrontational forward won more fouls than any other player (20), although this was counteracted by the fact that he also committed the most (17).
Cristiano Ronaldo (2nd)
Cristiano Ronaldo did his best to drag Portugal to the Euro 2012 final. The Madrid star took thirty seven shots in the tournament- twelve more than any other player.
Find out who were the strongest performing players at UEFA EURO 2012™ by visiting castroledge.com/euro2012. Castrol EDGE is an Official Sponsor of UEFA EURO 2012™.
PASSING APPROACH REAPING LIMITED REWARDS FOR SPAIN
Castrol EDGE Performance data reveals that although Spain are becoming better and better at their “tiki-taka” approach to tournament matches, it is having a limited effect in the final third.
At Euro 2012 so far, Spain have attempted nearly 700 passes per 90 minutes, over 100 more than any other side at the tournament, highlighting their domination of the ball. This total is also significantly more than any other side has managed at either a European Championships or a World Cup since 1980:
Most passes per 90 minutes: European Championships and World Cups since 1980
The Spaniards have made a dramatic improvement on their performance from the 2010 World Cup, making over 100 passes more per 90 minutes so far. However this has not resulted in an improved number of shots. In fact, the number of shots Spain have made per 90 minutes has dropped in each of the last three major tournaments since the 2006 World Cup:
Spain passes per 90 minutes vs shots per 90 minutes – Euros and World Cups since 1980
Andres Iniesta’s failure to find the net at EURO 2012 so far is a prime example of Spain’s struggle to make the most of their possession. Indeed, no player has mustered more shots during the tournament without scoring, a record the Barcelona schemer will no doubt be hoping to consign to the dustbin against Italy in the final.
Most Shots Without A Goal – UEFA EURO 2012™
Spain’s style may be the envy of the world, but it is worth bearing in mind that it is not geared towards attacking play, but rather for preventing the opponent getting the ball and scoring themselves.
THE SPANISH FORTRESS
With eight of Spain’s last 13 games at major tournaments finishing with just one goal or fewer scored, the key for La Roja has been a solid defence. Incredibly, they have now gone nine knockout games without conceding goal at major tournaments – meaning they have not shipped a goal after the group stages in three straight European Championships and World Cups.
Most consecutive clean sheets at Euros and World Cups KO stages (European teams)
One of the key reasons for their defensive success in the current tournament has been the partnership between Gerard Piqué and Sergio Ramos. Only two players have made more clearances than the Barcelona man, while only one has made more tackles than his Real Madrid counterpart:
Most clearances and tackles at UEFA EURO 2012™
SUPER MARIO IN THE FORM OF HIS LIFE
Against a highly-fancied German side in the semi-finals, Italy produced a shock result, defeating Jogi Loew’s gifted young side by a 2-1 scoreline. While superb organisation and hard work were always going to be key in this clash, it was the brilliance of Mario Balotelli which made the difference on the night, with the Manchester City man netting both Italy’s goals. According to Castrol EDGE Performance data, the controversial striker has now netted a joint-high three goals while his haul of 10 shots on target at EURO 201 is an outright tournament high.
Indeed, only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo has mustered more shots overall at EURO 2012 than Balotelli, as the muscular hitman starts to rediscover his best form for the Azzurri.
Most Goals & Shots On Target at Euro 2012
Not afraid to try his luck from long-range, just under half (47%) of his shots have come from outside the box.
Mario Balotelli – Shots At Euro UEFA EURO 2012™
Balotelli’s eagerness to impress in the famous blue of Italy has also see him start to replicate his impressive form for Manchester City where, despite his well-publicised off-field antics, he was a vital part of the Citizens’ historic lifting of the 2011/12 Premier League trophy.
The former Inter Milan starlet only featured in two sub appearances in the EURO 2012 Qualifiers, but in Poland and Ukraine, he has already bettered his minutes per shot and shooting accuracy rates achieved with Manchester City last season, while his passing and dribbling rates at EURO 2012 are also close to those posted for his club.
Mario Balotelli At UEFA EURO 2012™ And 2011/12 Premier League
Balotelli’s strike partner, the experienced Antonio Cassano, has also enjoyed a superb tournament so far, with the former Real Madrid man providing the superb cross for Balotell’s opener against Germany in the semi-final.
So far in UEFA EURO 2012™, Cassano has created 16 goal-scoring chances for teammates from open play, the joint-highest figure so far, as he blossoms in second-striker role for the Azzurri.
Most Chances Created From Open Play At UEFA EURO 2012™
With Balotelli currently in the form of his life, and Cassano producing the goods, Spain will need to be at their very best defensively to stop Italy from taking their Euro crown away from them.
HUNGER FOR THE BALL KEY TO AZZURRI SUCCESS AT UEFA EURO 2012™
While Italy and Spain will contest the last game of UEFA EURO 2012™, the two giants of European football also opened their accounts in the competition against each other, on June 10th in Group C. While that game ended in a 1-1 draw, Castrol EDGE Performance analysis shows that despite allowing La Roja the majority of the possession, the Italians’ hard work paid dividends, with Cesare Prandelli’s side winning 100% of their tackles.
Only one other team in the whole of UEFA EURO 2012™ has managed to win every single one of their tackles in a game (Denmark v Netherlands) and this desire to win the ball minimised the time and space the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta had on the ball.
Best Tackle Success Rates In A Game at UEFA EURO 2012™
Key to this physical performance was Prandelli’s decision to start with a 3-5-2 formation, a tactic he jettisoned later on in the tournament, but one which helped the Italians crowd the midfield against a Spanish side who had no natural striker, with playmaker Cesc Fabregas (10) playing the ‘false 9’ role.
Italy v Spain – June 10th – UEFA EURO 2012™
However, while Italy’s work-rate was impressive overall, it did drop significantly in the second half against Spain. Indeed, in practically every category (except their one goal scored on 60 mins), the Azzurri experienced a significant drop in performance after the break, with their possession going from 38% to just 31% and their tackles total dropping from 13 to just two. This contrasts with the Spanish, who improved markedly after the half-time break.
Italy v Spain – UEFA EURO 2012™
While making sure that his side produce a consistent performance across both halves, whether in a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 formation, will be key to Italy wrestling the European Champions crown away from current holders Spain on Sunday, Prandelli and Co. will no doubt be aware of the history between the two clubs.
Facing each other for the 31st time in total, the Italians hold the advantage with 10 wins to Spain’s eight, with 12 games drawn. Additionally, the Azzurri have never lost to Spain at a major tournament (penalties shoot-outs excluded), with three wins and four draws, though Spain did manage to qualify in their last encounter in knockout games against Italy, but only after penalties in the quarter-finals of EURO 2008. Finally, Prandelli himself has faced Spain twice as Italy head-coach and has never lost, beating La Roja in a friendly in August 2011 (2-1) before drawing in their opening game of EURO 2012 (1-1).
Spain v Italy: Can del Bosque’s men pass their way to victory?
In the Euro 2012 final, Spain will look to dominate possession and pass their way to victory over an Italian team who have surprised many by reaching the final. However, Castrol EDGE Performance data shows that five of the last eight champions had less possession than their opponents during the final. Most remarkably, Greece beat Portugal 1-0 in 2004, despite only having 36.97% of possession and only one shot on target during the match.
Possession is therefore a poor indicator of success and Spain will need to turn passes into goal scoring opportunities if they are to succeed on Sunday night. Since 1980, the team with more shots has won six out of eight European championships.
European Championship Finals since 1980
Nike has launched a short film which focuses on Wayne Rooney’s possible return to the England team which will face Ukraine in Donetsk tonight (Tuesday June 19) and captures the nation’s excitement at this moment in time.
One of the game’s greatest talents, a player capable of changing a match in the blink of an eye, Rooney has won trophies, collected individual awards and earned the right to call himself a United legend.
However, international success has eluded him and he has suffered some high profile defeats at major tournaments. Now, memories of those defeats are fuelling his hunger to put a once-great footballing nation back on the map.
Returning from his suspension, Rooney ready for this moment and Nike are marking this occasion with a 30 second film that shows a more mature, considered and focused Rooney channelling his past to help him produce the performances England expects.
The film uses clips of old commentary that narrate the ups and downs of his career to build the intensity as Rooney reflects on his achievements and disappointments, all the time preparing to step once again onto the international stage. His time has come, Blue Eyes is back.
Wayne Rooney Q&A:
How does watching the likes of Welbeck and Carroll leading the line make you feel? Does it fuel your hunger in training?
I’m happy for them. I know what’s it’s like to be part of the squad as a young player and it’s a great experience and will make them better players. I am training very hard though to get back and perform for my country.
In terms of your mental preparation, is it different now compared to when you first played for England?
I am more experienced now and know much more what to expect. The hunger is always there and there’s no better feeling than wearing the shirt. I can’t wait to get out there and contribute.
Is there anything in particular you do before a big game to motivate yourself?
When you’re playing for your country and the fans’ motivation is huge and always there. It’s the biggest stage and I’m always motivated for these massive games. You just want to get out there and perform.
Does the hunger of the new players such as Welbeck and Oxlade-Chamberlain bring a different dimension to preparation for and at this tournament?
The squad is well balanced with experience and youth. The young players bring great energy and fresh ideas. They have no fear and maybe other teams don’t know so much about them which can be an advantage. You also need experience to do well in tournaments and we have lots of that too. It’s strange but I suppose I’m one of those senior players now and I’ll be helping the young players as much as I can.
How have the highs and lows in your career helped you deal with preparation for this tournament?
It comes down to experience. You can learn more from the lows than the highs. The highs are great but the lows make you really look at things in a different way and want to improve. Every player will have both in their careers and I have, but what you get is that experience which is so important to perform at your best.
The eyes of the world will be watching your return – how does that make you feel and how do you cope with that?
I’ve worked hard and focussed and am desperate to play, obviously the penalty I’ve paid for Montenegro has come at a huge personal cost but I feel I can learn from the experience and further improve as a player because of it.
How special does it feel to pull on the England shirt?
Pulling on your country’s shirt is the greatest honour a footballer can have. It’s what I always dreamed of as a kid and I get a buzz every time. We’re looking forward as a team is to doing everything we can to perform and to make our fans happy and our country proud.
You’re well on your way to beating Sir Bobby Charlton’s international scoring record. Is this a particular goal of yours? Have you ever spoken to him about it?
I don’t really play to break personal records but of course I’m proud to have scored so many goals for my country. To be mentioned in the same list as Sir Bobby is a huge honour but I don’t talk to him about the record.
What kind of mood has the new manager created in the camp?
The Manager is so experienced and knows what he wants from the players. The atmosphere is buzzing and everybody is hungry to do well for him.
Has it made you more determined to play against Ukraine knowing that you wouldn’t be playing in the France or Sweden matches?
All I can do is focus my game for the Ukraine game. Hopefully the lads will have us in a position to qualify and then if called on I will do what I can to help us progress. I’m not an easy watcher but will be supporting the lads every step of the way and can’t wait to get my boots on.
Many people suggest playing for your country is not as important as it used to be. What do you think? What sense of pride do you get in pulling on an England shirt?
Playing for your country is the highest honour you can get as a player and it’s what every player dreams of when they start playing the game. It’s the greatest feeling to pull on the shirt. I love it every time and that will never leave me. You’re representing everybody back home and just want to do your best for them and for the team.
How have you learned to keep your emotions in check in the run-up to during Euro 2012 to try to avoid red and yellow cards?
Experience. I’m only 26 but have been playing at the highest level for almost 10 years now. That gives you experience which is so valuable and you get calmer and more considered as you get older anyway. The Montenegro mistake was one I regret and it really hurts, but It’s something I must learn from and move on. It makes me hungrier to perform and to be ready for my country when called on.
What’s your opinion on Gary Neville coaching you for England? Was his appointment a surprise to you?
Gary is strong personality and had a huge influence at United when I was playing with him. He’s great to have around the dressing room and will be a big help to the team and the younger players in particular. I wasn’t surprised at all because he’s been a great England player, he’s so experienced and has so much to pass on. He’s a real winner and will help make sure we’re all ready to perform.
Ahead of their opening clash at UEFA EURO 2012, the Castrol EDGE Calculator has revealed that England are favourites to beat France on Monday and go on to qualify from Group D. However, they still only stand an 8.4% chance of lifting the trophy, with Spain the favourites to defeat Netherlands in the Final, and Germany and England as beaten semi-finalists.
After Monday’s clash with France, England will face tricky games against Sweden and hosts Ukraine. But the Castrol EDGE Calculator backs England to come through these fixtures and qualify in 1st place. England has a 61% chance of emerging from the group, making them the favourites to make it into the quarter-finals from Group D.
By using the latest technology and data analysis techniques to identify which nations have the strongest chance of success at UEFA EURO 2012, the Castrol EDGE Calculator now shows that England have an 8.4% chance of winning the tournament and lifting the trophy. This is far better than Group D rivals France, who have a 5.2% chance of lifting the trophy, and Italy, who only have a 3.9% chance. However, England still trail far behind favourites Spain (24.5%) and their major tournament bogey team, Germany (12.2%).
First launched for the 2010 FIFA World Cup where it accurately predicted nearly 70% of teams’ progression, Castrol EDGE has applied the same expertise they apply to the development of their strongest ever oil to create the Castrol EDGE Calculator.
Created by the same team of Castrol EDGE Performance Analysts behind the Castrol EDGE Rankings, it calculates the attack and defence ratings of each nation. Then by simulating the tournament over 100,000 times, and taking into account the draw groupings, the Calculator can predict how successful nations will be in their groups, whether or not they’ll progress to the knock out stages, and ultimately each nation’s chance of winning the tournament.
Fans can see the very latest tournament predictions from the Castrol EDGE Calculator on castroledge.com/euro2012, which is updated after each game, allowing them to see the impact of every match result on their nation’s chances. For the first time ever, fans watching UEFA EURO 2012™ can follow the Castrol EDGE Calculator live to see in real time how each teams’ performance on pitch affects their chances of success.
Electronic Arts declared Germany the winner of UEFA EURO 2012 after running a tournament simulation using the market-leading football engine that drives EA SPORTS UEFA EURO 2012 on the PlayStation3, Xbox 360 and PC. EA SPORTS was able to simulate the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship and test all 16 teams under the same conditions they will face in the weeks ahead. It was determined that Germany will defeat Netherlands 2-1 at Olympic Stadium in Kyiv on July 1 to win The Henri Delaunay Trophy.
The final itself saw the Germans fall behind 1-0 after Robin van Persie struck home a left-footed rocket from just outside the box in the 24th minute. Van Persie finished as the tournament’s top goal scorer with five goals. However, the Dutch lead did not last long as Mesut Özil leveled the score 12 minutes later, setting the stage for the golden goal from Mario Gómez, his fourth of the tournament. Gómez went high into the air between two Dutch defenders on a corner kick by Bastian Schweinsteiger to knock home the winner in the 78th minute, delivering Germany its fourth UEFA EURO championship.
Fans around the globe will compare these results to the real-world tournament as it unfolds beginning June 8. EA SPORTS has predicted that the Germans will win all three group stage matches, and maintain their form throughout the knockout phase, but it took a Miroslav Klose goal in extra time to propel the Germans past Italy 1-0 in the semi-final. Germany’s path to the Final included a 3-2 victory over Netherlands in the group stage and a 3-1 victory over Poland in the quarter-final.
Netherlands finished second behind Germany in the Group Stage after wins over Portugal and Denmark. Their road to the final included a 2-0 victory over Russia in the quarter-finals and a thrilling 3-1 semi-final victory over defending champion and pre-tournament favourite, Spain. In the semi-final match, Arjen Robben and David Villa traded first half goals before Van Persie put the Dutch ahead in the 64th minute. Spain had several efforts on goal in the final third of the match but couldn’t capitalize on its chances as they pushed all players forward in an attempt to draw even, eventually conceding a counter attack goal in the 86th minute from striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
England had its hearts broken in the quarter-finals. After an absorbing 2-2 draw with Spain, England went out 4-3 on penalty kicks. The fifth English shooter, striker Andy Carroll, was stopped when keeper Iker Casillas guessed correctly, diving to his right to get a hand on the hard low shot that propelled Spain into the semi-finals. Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard all notched goals for England in the penalty shootout while Carroll and Jermain Defoe were stopped. Spain goals came from David Silva, Xabi Alonso, Andrés Iniesta, and Fernando Llorente.
Italy, after finishing second behind Spain in Group C with a 1-1-1 record, got a goal in the 77th minute from striker Mario Balotelli to defeat Group D winner France, 2-1, in their quarter-final match. Italy scored just four goals in the tournament and couldn’t generate any offence in its semi-final match against the Germans, finally succumbing 1-0 in extra time. The French suffered their only loss in the tournament to Italy, after drawing 2-2 with England and posting 2-0 wins over Ukraine and Sweden in the Group Stage.
EA SPORTS has a proven track record of correctly predicting winners using its game engines across all of its simulation sports franchises. EA SPORTS correctly predicted Chelsea would defeat Liverpool 2-1 to capture this year’s FA Cup and Spain would win the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. (The Madden NFL franchise has correctly predicted seven of the past nine Super Bowl champions.)
EA SPORTS UEFA EURO 2012, the officially licensed videogame of UEFA EURO 2012™, is available now to purchase as a digital expansion pack on EA SPORTS FIFA 12. Visit http://www.ea.com/uk/football/euro12 for more information about the game features.
After your injury, you played for the first time in the Dutch team against Slovakia. How did it feel to be back?
It was very good. To come back like this, after such a long time is a very good feeling.
It must have been frustrating to see the other players playing whilst you were sitting on the bench recovering. How did you keep yourself motivated until you got fit?
You think about the time and the level you played at before. And you look into the future. I think those are the things that keep you strong. But it was definitely a very hard time for me.
Do you think this year it could be a chance for you to come back and show again the good player that you are?
Yes, I hope I will show it. I am getting fit right now and I play my games. So I will do everything to be as good as possible in the upcoming season.
How is the mood in the Dutch squad? Is there the confidence that the team can go very far in the tournament like you did in South Africa?
The confidence is good. But there are man other good teams as well. We are in a group that is very difficult, with some of the best teams that have also good chances to win the EUROs. Teams like Denmark, Germany and Portugal. All of the three are fantastic countries, so we have to give everything we can and we hope that we survive the first round.
Does the disappointment of losing the final in 2010 still follow you or is that rather seen as an added motivation to do better?
It gives us extra motivation to get better. To get to the final again is very difficult. But I think we have to look first to the first round, because that is obviously the first step.
You are going to play Germany in the group stages. How important is that game for the Netherlands in this tournament?
We don’t have to look to the second game; we have to look to the first game, which is always one of the most important games of the tournament. Because the first match of the tournament gives you directly a good feeling or a bad feeling. The most important thing is that you win. It doesn’t matter if you play badly as long as you still win.
That is a fair point. But you know the current German team. How do you rate them anyway and what do you think are their strengths and weaknesses?
Germany is one of the best teams in the EUROs. Their quality is that they are always fighting, but in the last years they also played very good football. So those two qualities are a very good combination.
Who are the most important players in the Dutch team?
All 23 players are equally important.
If Holland by bad luck or whatever reason will not win the tournament, who do you think will win it then?
You are going to wear the new PUMA evoSPEED boot during the tournament. What is your opinion of this boot?
It is a very good boot. It is extremely light and very comfortable, so I am very happy with the shoe.
Is it going to make you faster?
Yes, I think so.
Spain and Real Madrid captain, Iker Casillas unveils the exclusive adidas Tango 12 Finale ball at Ciudad del Futbol
Adidas have unveiled the official Tango 12 Finale match ball for the UEFA European Championship Final with the help of defending champion and Spain and Real Madrid captain, Iker Casillas at the Ciudad del Futbol in Madrid.
Based on the classic Tango design used during both the FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO tournaments during the early 1980s, the adidas Tango 12 Finale features a modern interpretation of the design including bespoke graphics designed to represent the two host countries and link to the key characteristics of football – unity, rivalry and passion.
The adidas Tango 12 Finale, which has been developed over a two-year period, underwent two rigorous types of testing – qualitative player testing, which was conducted across eight different countries, using players, federations and clubs from both elite and grass roots football, and quantitative lab testing, which concluded that the adidas Tango 12 Finale meets and exceeds all FIFA Approved Standards for an Official Match Ball making it the most tested ball adidas has ever produced.
With a month until the tournament begins, the reveal of the new adidas Tango 12 Finale official match ball to fan’s across the world also marks the launch of the adidas “Road to the Final” – a campaign designed to give consumers across Europe the chance to win a line-up of UEFA Euro 2012 prizes, including official match tickets.
The “Road to the Final” campaign will see the ball complete a virtual tour through every country competing in the tournament over the course of the next month on its way to Poland and finally the Ukraine. At each stop an adidas sport star will post a picture of themselves with the ball on the official adidas Facebook page and Twitter feed, with every “like” or re-tweet from fans automatically entering them into a draw to win a line-up of UEFA Euro 2012 prizes.
Alongside winning different prizes, each selected winner will then be sent a replica of the Tango 12 Finale and will be asked to post a picture of themselves with the ball at a famous landmark to show off their success. Following the initial reveal in Madrid, different winners will be announced across the three weeks building up to the UEFA European Championships, to follow the winners visit www.facebook.com/adidasfootball or follow them via Twitter on @adidasfootball.
The adidas Tango 12 Finale will be available in adidas retail outlets and associated stockists from 1st June.