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Gerard Houllier lends voice to defend Greece's defensive tactics at European Championship

Gerard Houllier lends voice to defend Greece's defensive tactics at European Championship

Greece got plenty of criticism for the defensive style of play that won it the European Championship four years ago, so the defending champions may be pleased to hear they have at least one high-profile supporter in the game.
As part of a nine-man UEFA Technical Team, Gerard Houllier has been asked to analyze tactics and technical trends to help decide player awards throughout the tournament.
Having won the UEFA Cup and five other trophies with Liverpool, Houllier is a perfect candidate for such a role and the former France coach said Sunday he saw little wrong in a team drawing upon what could be perceived as old-fashioned tactics if they brought success.
"I don't think the UEFA Technical Team criticized anything about Greece," Houllier said. "We were surprised because it showed that whatever the system, if you have a good team spirit and a good freshness _ because I think freshness plays an important part in these tournaments _ and a bit of luck sometimes, you can win it."
Houllier said a variety of different approaches, which includes the blanket defense employed by outsider Greece at Euro 2004, could only be good for the game.
"I would say it was refreshing for the whole of football," Houllier said. "It was not a system that is followed by many clubs. But I cannot offer any criticism because in 1996, there was a team (Auxerre) that won the double in France that was still practicing man-to-man marking."
Houllier is based in Austria for the duration of the three-week tournament, working alongside former Finland and Switzerland coach Roy Hodgson, FIFA technical director Jean-Paul Brigger and 1976 European Championship winner Josef Venglos to help decide man-of the-match awards, the player-of-the-tournament title and the UEFA team of the tournament _ a 23-man squad to be picked at the end of the competition.
Jerzy Engel, Gyoergy Mezey, Morten Olsen and Holger Osieck will do the same job in Switzerland, while UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh will move between the co-hosting nations to lead the team.
"It's a 4-4-1 formation," Houllier said. "It's a very cosmopolitan patchwork of people."
Houllier said that he expected the cautious play that characterized Saturday's matches to continue as teams played their opening games, but that a more expansive and attacking style should dominate afterward.
"Usually the first day looks to be defensive because the first thing you don't want to do is to concede," Houllier said. "But then the second and third days are more prolific in terms of goals.
"The tournament is just as good as when the World Cup gets to the last 16, because the 16 teams are good and all have a chance. The tournament will be at a very high level and of course you have a lot of top-class players."


Updated : 2021-05-15 00:06 GMT+08:00