UEFA technical director gives Euro 2008 thumbs up
24 June 2008
VIENNA – The UEFA Technical Director Andy Roxburgh on Monday said he had been very impressed with the standard of play at the European Championships.
He said that with three games remaining at Euro 2008, one could already say that there had been a lot of drama.
The former Scottish national team coach said that Euro, the Champions League and the World Cup were the benchmarks for trends in the global game.
"What has been particularly interesting at this tournament is that a lot of late goals have been scored. We have had seven goals in injury time and four in extra time.
"There have been a lot of fantastic matches of a very high quality. I think the late goals are an indication that coaches take late decisions to change the outcome of a game.
"These decisions have often had a very big influence on the game."
He said that overall the standard of play had been very impressive.
"The game has changed and this can be seen at the tournament. A lot of goals have been scored from fast breaks. There has been just one goal from a direct free-kick and even that took a deflection."
Roxburgh, who heads the nine-man UEFA technical committee at the tournament, said that he was particularly pleased with the attitude of the players towards each other.
The Scotsman said that he was not sure whether it made much difference for players to be at the end of their season.
"That is always an issue and there is just one player left in the tournament who played in the Champions League final (Germany captain Michael Ballack).
"The Russian players are in the middle of their season and they are certainly very fit and have just been improving from game to game.
"Clearly that they are in the middle of a season will be an advantage, but one can’t really say how much of an advantage."
He was also non-committal on the issue of coaches playing reserve sides for their final group games once their teams had already qualified.
Portugal, Croatia, Spain and the Netherlands, who all won their group ahead of their last group game, rested most of their regulars in their final game.
Of those, only Spain are left in the tournament.
"There are positives and negatives to playing a second-string side. On the one hand you would want to keep the momentum going, on the other you would want to rest players. It is really up to each individual coach to see what work for his side."
Roxburgh, 64, said that the competition showed that teams were, on the one hand, dominated by efficiency, with no room for error, while on the other hand there has also been a lot of emphasis on solo play.
"It is about balance. The top teams have both, both efficiency and quality," he said, naming Germany a prime example.
"You have them being clinical and efficient, but you also have a player like Michael Ballack, who played very well when he was given a free role," said Roxburgh.
He complimented the two co-hosts Austria and Switzerland even though both teams went out in the group stage.
"They have been brilliant hosts. In terms of football they had great passion and wonderful enthusiasm. What they lacked was the finishing touch.
"Them being knocked out has not really affected the tournament at all. It was unfortunate and sad to see them go, but they have and are brilliant hosts," said Roxburgh.
[dpa / Expatica]