The purpose of today's match report is to focus on an individual player's performance during a game. Whilst there was a temptation to just pick Ronaldo for the exercise, in the interests of fairness, I decided to randomly pick from the 20 outfield players on show...so here is my report on the performance of Vaclav Pilar in last night's Czech Republic v Portugal Quarter Final.
For those of you unfamiliar with Vaclav Pilar, he is a 23 year old left midfielder, who plays for Wolfsburg. He has only been playing for the senior national team over the last year, but has made a big impact. He scored in the play off win over Montenegro and netted twice in the Group stages. I’d been impressed with Pilar prior to the Portugal game; he was a bit of an old school winger – short, fast, tricky, but liable to disappear completely for long periods of play! He reminded me a bit of ex Gillingham winger John Hodge (apologies to non Gills fans), who was one of my favourite players growing up.
Following an individual’s performance is rather distracting. It certainly affected my enjoyment of the game as I was continually looking for Mr Pilar and not really concentrating on the match. I don’t think I could ever be one of these Opta types who spend entire matches tracking a player.
Against Portugal, Pilar lined up on the left of midfield, he was supported by full back David Limbersky. Limbersky was given the task of keeping Nani quiet and it was clear from an early stage that Pilar’s main duty was to help out in this department. As an attacking threat he was severely limited, but he did well in covering Limbersky and tracking Portuguese right back Pereira. Limbersky was often following Nani all over the field, so it was up to Pilar to cover at full back. For a player more adept at coming forward, he did an admirable job defensively. He also looked comfortable on the ball and played a number of neat passes in midfield. Unfortunately, he was unable to get much chance to run at Pereira or join in with the rare Czech attacks.
This pattern continued in the second half, although Portugal were mainly focusing on the other side of the field where Ronaldo and Coentrao were causing problems. Pilar did get one chance to run at the defence and he showcased his skills with a brilliant run that beat 3 defenders and took him into the penalty area, sadly his low cross was cut out by Pepe and the move broke down. That was about it as far as Pilar’s attacking threat went. In fact, during the final 30 minutes he barely got a kick!
In fairness to Pilar, he was a bit of a victim of the Czech game plan- Men behind the ball and play for penalties. It didn’t deserve to work and thankfully it didn’t work. For Pilar, it was a disappointing end to an excellent tournament. His goal against Russia was a lovely run and finish, whilst he made a clever run across the area for his goal against Greece. Add to that, a few incisive runs, sharp passing and some solid defensive work, and you’ve got the makings of a very effective, if slightly lightweight player. He’s sure to be a regular for club and country for years to come.
Hope that wasn’t too dull to read. Not one of my favourite reports as it was pretty restrictive and didn’t really give much of a flavour of the overall game. For what it’s worth, I was greatly impressed by Portugal. They’ve got one of the best back fours in the competition, an excellent player maker in Moutinho and an in-form superstar in Ronaldo. The expected semi final clash with Spain could be a classic.
The Czechs are limited but game, they will see this as a successful tournament, having seen Ronaldo destroy Holland, they decided to play very defensively and it killed the game as much of a spectacle.
Talking of which, it’s Germany v Greece tonight. The Greek bus is reversing into the goalmouth as I speak!