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Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Back to the drawing board
Steffen Iversen
Norway overcame the Spanish tactics
BBC Sport Online's Pete Lansley reports from Belgium on the tactics used so far in the European Championships.

The Norwegians look set to be the kings among the vikings after their impressive victory over Spain - following early flops from the Danes and the Swedes so far this tournament.

But as they managed to stifle the life out of the Spanish - many pundits' favourites for Euro 2000 - before winning the game through Steffen Iversen's beanpole header, have you considered how many teams are actually winning with a 4-4-2 formation?

From the stands out here in the Low Countries, Sport Online has been assessing which teams' shapes are working most effectively.

Sometimes when watching a match on television it is difficult to see the Norwegian wood for the trees when trying to work out the formations, especially with fluid sides like France and Portugal.

Belgium triumph

So taking a sample based on the games we have been to this far:

  • Belgium came through against Sweden in a battle of the traditional 4-4-2 foragers.

  • France, intriguingly, fielded a 4-2-3-1 shape to baffle Denmark into submission, with two holding midfielders in Manu Petit and Didier Deschamps, and Youri Djorkaeff and Thierry Henry playing as inside-forwards.


    Peter Schmeichel and Nicolas Anelka
    French frontman Anelka outpaced the Danes
    The maestro Zinedine Zidane supported and Nicolas Anelka was up front as the pacy pivot.

  • In the emotive atmosphere of the Phillips Stadium in Eindhoven, England lined up in straight rows of 4-4-2.

  • Portugal beguiled everyone with what could very loosely be called 4-3-3 but the kilometres Luis Figo covered, especially when watched off the ball, in traversing from flank to flank epitomised how good their style is.

  • Spain, in Feyenoord's ground, known as the Tub for the deafening sound generated, started with Raul in the hole but resorted to 4-4-2 as they despaired in breaking down the Norwegians.

  • Norway stuck to their tried-and-trusted 4-5-1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, enjoying a better day than Tore Andre Flo, was often called inside to take over the central attacking role by his Chelsea partner, with Iversen covering the other flank.

    Flummoxed

    Spain, to the increasing joy of a crowd dominated by viking hats - Norwegian or neutral - were flummoxed.

    Even when Gaizka Mendieta came on and Spain basically switched to 2-4-2-2, with the two full-backs pushing up alongside the holding midfielders, Nils Johan Semb's system held firm.

    As in France 98, when they beat Brazil to qualify for the second round, Norway always appreciate their victories.

    Every good tournament should include a successful Scandinavian side. With their hats and painted faces, they come for the occasion. Winning is the cherry on the icing.

    So how many teams have won with 4-4-2 so far from this wholly representative sample?

    Urmmmm. Belgium.

  • Search BBC Euro 2000

     

    See also:

    11 Jun 00 | The BBC Team
    Saturday night football fever
    11 Jun 00 | The BBC Team
    Co-hosts get Belgium in party mood
    13 Jun 00 | Euro2000
    France the team to beat
    13 Jun 00 | Euro2000
    Steffen stuns Spaniards
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