"This was one of the best EURO final rounds in my time," UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh told UEFA.com as he and his team start to write up their conclusions on UEFA EURO 2012.
UEFA EURO 2012 set a benchmark in European football, and UEFA's Technical Team identified a number of key trends in Poland and Ukraine which will now be analysed in the tournament's comprehensive technical report.
"This was one of the best EURO final rounds in my time and was extremely positive in every way," UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh told UEFA.com. "The tournament has been a spectacle and a fascinating exhibition of European football. The EURO has again proved to be a major benchmark – one of three alongside the [FIFA] World Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
"We now sit down and analyse all of the material from individual discussions, group meetings and reports, and give our comprehensive review of the final round in the report," said Roxburgh.
The 11-man team of eminent technicians attended each of the 31 matches and compiled a wealth of information about the teams, coaches and their tactics that will be included in the report, published in English, French and German, which will be officially unveiled at the 9th UEFA Conference for European National Coaches in Warsaw in late September.
One of the notable features of UEFA EURO 2012 was an increase in headed goals. "In 2004 there were 17 headed goals," said Roxburgh. "In 2008 there were 15, and this time there were 22 headed goals – 13 from open play, and nine from corners or indirect free-kicks. When it comes to the headed goals from set plays, they were sometimes in crowded areas – and there is no doubt that the use of the additional assistant referees had a deterrent impact, in that there was less pushing and so on."
UEFA EURO 2012 saw the continuation of an experiment authorised by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), whereby two additional assistant referees stood on each goalline to look for penalty area incidents in particular.
Speed of transition continued to be a tactical factor at this EURO – "either into attack or back into the defensive block," said Roxburgh. "The Czech Republic, for example, scored three goals from counters. Teams either had to beat the defensive block by counterattacking when the space was available, or going over or around the block. This was one of the reason for the number of headed goals.
"Spain, however, did go against the general trend," Roxburgh reflected. "They scored 12 goals – one was a penalty, two were from set-plays, and the rest were the product of incisive combination play."
Ten Spanish players made it into the Technical Team's All-Star Squad for UEFA EURO 2012, and Andrés Iniesta, one of the architects of their combination play, was named by the Technical Team as the player of the tournament for epitomising this incisive style.
The UEFA Technical Team comprised Roxburgh, Fabio Capello (Italy), Jerzy Engel (Poland), Dušan Fitzel (Czech Republic), Gérard Houllier (France), Lars Lagerbäck (Sweden), György Mezey (Hungary) and Holger Osieck (Germany, current Australia coach) with Jean-Paul Brigger and Walter Gagg providing FIFA input, and Mordechai Shpigler acting as link-man to UEFA's Development & Technical Assistance Committee.