Stars of France Vs England Euro 2012 1-1 Game 1 Lescott, Nasri

We continue with our series of posts about the Euro 2012.

Now we cover the analysis of the match France vs England. It’s to be played 11 June 2012 6pm CET.

This is another classic in football. Recent performances give a sligh favoritism to France. For instance, the implicit winning chances at online betting firm Bwin give 39.4% winning chances to France and 21.9% to England. There is 31.5% chances to reach a null game.

As in the previous post, we show which teams are selected in the photos of the news articles about this game, just published today, but before the match starts.

We present results concerning the following linguistic areas: English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.

We find as expected a local bias towards the national team in French and English media. This is practically a mirror (column one and five). Both regions deserve more than 60% of all images to pics showing exclusively local heroes. There is less than 20% of photos reserved to rival team photos.

Moving to ‘neutral’ media, we start with news in Spanish (column two), we find that in this case it is strongly oriented towards covering French team images. 66% of all news refer exclusively to French players. Some 21% to English players. How to explain this strong bias towards France, which is not driven by a so strong sport favoritism? This strong bias is probably due to the fact that one of the leading stars of the French team, Karim Benzema, plays in the Spanish Liga, with Real Madrid. There is also another French players with lower media value that plays in Spain: Adil Rami, in Valencia. By contrast, there is currently no English star playing in the Spanish Liga.

We find a very similat pattern when we consider media coverage given in Italy. Very similar to media in Spanish, providing a little more room to photos with shared protagonism, reducing thus the weigth of images with French stars only (moving from 66% to 52.4%). Both in Italy and Spain there is a clear bias towards French team. We cannot use the explaination of French stars playing in Italian calcio, as there aren’t.

We find a completely different picture when we analyse the results concerning media coverage given to the before the game news in media written in German. Now we observe a preference for images about English team players. Photos about only English players represent 53% of all pictures, while photos about French players are just 30%. This complete shift of preferences in comparison with media choices in Italy and Spain cannot be explained again by English stars playing in Germany, as it is not the case. It can be partially explained by the recent Champions League final opposing local german tem Bayern Munich against English Chelsea. Some stars from Chelsea are the leaders of the English team, like Terry, Cole or Lampard.

Whatever the reasons behind, we observe a very divergent media treatment of this game depending on the linguistic areas in Europe. Latin countries tend to give more attention to France, and Germany prefers English stars. May this result also reflect geo politic preferences?

The match

As commented, France was considered the favorite team of the game. Final result of the match was a draw, 1-1. England opened the score in minute 30, by Joleon Lescott. France was able to score in minute 39, a goal by Samir Nasri. Nasri was named the Man of the match.

The stars of the match

We present now results concerning media impact after the match. We have chosen in this case news coverage of the match by media in Spain. We know that media in Spain presented a bias favorable to French players. We cannot chose news in English as this is one of the affected parties and post game result analysis would be completely biased.

According to our results, post game media attention has refelected quite well what happened in the pitch, as photos concerning players of each team are almost equally distributed in newspapers in Spain, with a sligh advantage for French squad, a share 51-49.

As for individual stars, we find that the main star of the game in the media is again a scorer and the Man of the match (a distinction established by UEFA organization), Samir Nasri, with 15.4% of all photo news.

The second star of the game is the scorer of the other team, England. Lescott receives 14% media impact. We find that both scorers are the relevant stars of the game, as there are no other players reaching a similar level of media attention.

Third and fourth stars of the match are French players: Frank Ribéry (10.4%) and Karim Benzema (8.5%).

We have then three players from England, but their level of media attention reached is rather low. This is the list of top 10 stars. This is the first time that we find a coach among top ten stars of the match. French trainer Laurent Blanc takes eigth position, with 3.5% share of images about the match.

Annex: Tactics analysis

This is the verdict by zonalmarking: ‘France dominate possession but creativity stifled by England sitting deep’ (see all analysis here).

Quotations from their analysis:

Formation battle 

This was a fairly simple battle. England had two banks of four, with Ashley Young and Welbeck paired upfront – a mobile, energetic duo that looked to work the channels with support from the two wide players. Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker sat much deeper.

Blanc asked Alou Diarra to stick tightly to Ashley Young when Young came deep, and play deep in front of Young when he moved forward to partner Welbeck. Yohan Cabaye was higher up near Gerrard, and Malouda tried to drift past Parker into space. But there was little space for France, as England packed their own half with eight very narrow players. The space was generally in the wide zones, and although Mathieu Debuchy and Patrice Evra got forward well, they rarely caused significant danger. Playing the ball out wide tended to result in lots of corners, which England sometimes defended nervously.


On the whole, the first round of Euro 2012 matches have been relatively open and entertaining, but this was a slow game. The two sides wanted to ‘not lose’ more than they wanted to win, so a draw seemed likely from early in the second half, with only France’s long-range shots threatening.

England’s shape was good, but their transitions were disappointing because of Young’s anonymity. He’s a key player for this system, and France did well to nullify his influence. Hodgson will also be concerned about the space between the lines, and the Parker-Gerrard combination needs to be a little more disciplined, and make sure one of them is occupying that zone, rather than chasing the ball or being drawn to opponents.

France were certainly the more positive side, but moved the ball too slowly to draw England’s players out of shape, and maybe needed more variety and movement from their midfield triangle. They put England’s defensive unit under persistent but never particularly strong pressure, and seemed to be waiting for the other two group matches.