The Data Day at Euro 2020: No.13
Welcome to The Data Day, our daily Euro 2020 stats blog where we try and make sense of what just happened.
The Magic of the Cup
Don’t hold international tournaments every couple of years, just give us one group of death every month for the rest of our lives. We want the sheer drama served up by Group F at Euro 2020 and we want it extremely regularly. Everyone was looking forward to this bit of the group stage, but no one quite guessed just how dramatic the final games would be.
For England supporters, there was the added tension that arose from the knowledge that whoever came second would be travelling to Wembley on Tuesday to face Gareth Southgate’s low scoring/never conceding team. Would it be France? Would it be Portugal? Would it be Germany?
Hang on… would it be Hungary? No, seriously. Would it be Hungary? At The Analyst we made them an 18% chance of getting out the group before the tournament started. It would go higher than that tonight. It would also go lower.
11 mins: Germany 0-1 Hungary. The earliest goal Germany have conceded in the Euros since playing Romania in 2000. That was a bad tournament, Germany came bottom of their group. An omen? Maybe.
30 mins: France 0-1 Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo from the spot. 108 international goals. Only Ali Daei has scored more. This goal meant Ronaldo had scored twice as many tournament goals as Scotland in his lifetime.
46:43: France 1-1 Portugal. Benzema from the spot, his first international goal since Jude Bellingham was 12 years old.
46:44: France 2-1 Portugal. Benzema again, this time not from a penalty. Had he really scored just one second after his first goal? No, it was an optical illusion caused by injury time and chronology.
60 mins: France 2-2 Portugal. A second penalty from Ronaldo took him level with Daei on 109 international goals. His true target? Maybe, probably, but he is now the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single European Championship tournament since Michel Platini in 1984. From facing elimination, thanks to Hungary’s ongoing lead in Munich, Portugal were safe, for now.
66 mins: Germany 1-1 Hungary. Kai Havertz scored from close in after some questionable goalkeeping. It was nice while it lasted, and England fans had gone through the emotions from excitement at potentially facing Hungary, to long-forgotten upset of losing 6-3 to Hungary at Wembley in 1953. But you can’t rule out the Germans. You just can’t.
68 mins: Germany 1-2 Hungary. Hang on, 91 seconds after Germany had equalised they were behind again via Andras Schäfer, nodding home past a hesitant Manuel Neuer. At this point narrative was as heavy as the rain falling in Bavaria.
84 mins: With Portugal and France happily playing out a gentle 2-2 draw (oh hello no shots from either side in the final quarter of an hour) Hungary were planning their route to Wembley, but then Leon Goretzka scored his fifth goal in his last 10 international appearances. Oh no… Germany back up to second, Portugal down to third and Hungary back on the bottom. England had been due to face every single Group F team at one point during the evening, but when the music stopped and the lights came on it was their old foes Germany waiting to dance.
Hungary’s chances of getting through to the last 16 had risen to 25% at one point in the second half but they’ll have to make do with the fact that they were ahead for more minutes and trailed for fewer minutes than any other team in Group F. A consolation? No, not really.
Germany go on to face England for the eighth time in a tournament, while France become only the fifth team in Euros history to finish top of a group despite winning only once. Oh, and 18 goals on a single day is the most in Euros history. We dream of days like this when thinking about tournaments, and June 23, 2021 delivered. All we want is one group of death every month, forever. Is that too much to ask? DA & CM
Two Five-Goal Matches, One Stoppage-Time Winner Conclude Group E
Luis Enrique’s bottle of champagne popped as he stated it might, and all’s well that ends in progression to the Round of 16. Despite not topping Group E, there may be renewed hope for Spain following Wednesday’s 5-0 victory in Sevilla. As for popping more champagne bottles later in the tournament, that path includes a Round of 16 meeting with Croatia.
La Roja were on two points heading into their final group match and finished second to Sweden, which means Sweden will play a third-place team and Spain are set to take on the 2018 World Cup runners-up. Those assignments were nearly swapped with Poland coming from two goals down to temporarily equalise against Sweden, but a stoppage-time winner won the Swedes the group.
It’s the first time two Euros matches have seen five-plus goals on the same day since June 21, 2000 (Spain 4-3 Yugoslavia, Netherlands 3-2 France).
Spain boss Luis Enrique made four changes ahead of the match, including a shuffling up top with Gerard Moreno lining up on the left and Pablo Sarabia on the right of Álvaro Morata, as well as Sergio Busquets featuring in the holding midfield role rather than Rodri. The result was less possession (85.1% v Sweden, 76.4% v Poland, 66% v Slovakia) and nine shots on target – one shy of the tournament high for a single match.
Morata – whose six total shots on target lead the tournament along with Patrik Schick – was given a standing ovation by the Sevilla crowd when subbed off in the 66th minute despite missing an early penalty. Missed penalties have become one of the themes of the tournament with five of 11 being converted. Spain have missed both of theirs, becoming the first team to fail to score two or more non-shootout penalties in a single Euros since the Netherlands in 2000.
Another theme of the tournament has been own goals, and Spain-Slovakia increased the Euros record for a single tournament to eight with two from this match.
For Slovakia, it’s an early exit after winning their first match against Poland. No teams under the new 24-team format in 2016 won their first match and failed to progress. We figure to have at least two this time.
As for Sweden and Poland, with all Group E positions up for grabs, it was the team who knew progression was assured who flew out of the traps in St. Petersburg.
Carrying on from his strike against Slovakia, Emil Forsberg scored with the first attempt of the match, finishing well with just 81 seconds on the clock. That’s the second quickest Euros goal in the history of the competition behind Russia’s Dimitri Kirichenko in 2004 (65 seconds). The Swedes then spent the rest of the half having a breather without another shot in the match until the 50th minute.
The task for Poland got that much tougher and their cause weren’t helped when their team’s star player Robert Lewandowski headed against the bar twice within seconds from close range. He had three shots in the same minute (17th), totalling an xG of 1.0.
The introduction of Dejan Kulusevski, Sweden’s second-youngest player at a European Championships at 21y 59d, seemingly settled the game in the Swedes’ favour as he set up Forsberg for his third goal from three shots on target at the championships. No Swede has scored more at a single Euros than him, level with Tomas Brolin’s total in 1992 and Henrik Larsson in 2004.
Cue the talisman to stand up and give them a fighting chance. Lewandowski got over his earlier frustration scoring twice, making him Poland’s outright leading scorer in tournaments in the process with five (one goal at Euro 2012, one at Euro 2016, zero at World Cup 2018 and three at Euro 2020). His performances at Euro 2020 have helped lift his goals tally against his expected goals return, as he can at least claim he turned up on the biggest stage for his country.
Lewandowski has scored 69 goals for Poland in all competitions, more than twice as many as the rest of the Polish Euro 2020 squad have netted combined (34).
It was also the first time Poland scored twice in a European Championship game. Alas, the late Lewandowski surge was in vain for Poland, as substitute Viktor Claesson came up trumps via another Kulusevski assist with a late matchwinner. Kulusevski became the first substitute since Cesc Fabregas to assist twice (Spain v Russia in 2008) in a Euros match.
Sweden somehow held onto their top spot, winning their group like they did at World Cup 2018. They’ll play knockout football at the Euros for the first time since Euro 2004.
The Calm Before the Storm
For many, the format of this year’s European Championships has meant there has been the occasional game that “doesn’t really matter.” Like last night for example, as even before England and Czech Republic kicked off, both sides knew they’d already qualified.
But the format does give rise to situations like Group E today, where every single side goes into the final round of matches with a chance to qualify. Some more than others, but everyone’s got something to play for. Every game matters.
Good old jeopardy. You’re back, and we’ve missed you.
After a misfiring start so far, all eyes will be on Spain as they take on Slovakia. La Roja have dominated in both matches so far without ever really getting into their groove.
They broke the single-game Euros passing record in their opening match against Sweden – a game which saw them average 85% possession – and they followed that up with another ball-heavy showing against Poland, seeing 76% of the ball. Despite playing only two matches so far, Spain have already made more passes than 20 other teams at Euro 2020. On both occasions however, they failed to turn their dominance into victories.
Despite scoring in their draw against Poland, Alvaro Morata has received some criticism for his wastefulness in front of goal. Profligacy has been an issue for the entire team so far, with Spain scoring just once from the 5.3 expected goals they’ve generated at Euro 2020. That 4.3 differential is the highest of any side in the tournament.
It’s not like they’ve been taking bad quality shots either. At 0.18 xG per shot, only England (0.2) and Portugal (0.25) are getting into better scoring positions. Something’s gotta give and it needs to happen fast.
A win over Slovakia would see them qualify, and our match predictor likes Spain’s chances today, giving them a 68.8% chance of doing so.
Slovakia will be out to spoil the party though and of course have qualification ambitions of their own. They are unbeaten in their final group stage game at both of their previous two major tournaments, winning 3-2 against Italy at the 2010 World Cup and drawing 0-0 with England at Euro 2016. They have progressed from the group stages at both previous tournaments and either a draw (19.5%) or win (11.7%) here would see them qualify.
Only three teams are yet to concede a goal at Euro 2020 so far. Italy? Makes sense. England? Yep, fine, and [checks notes] Sweden. The Swedes have quietly gone about their business and, with four points, are already through. Built on a solid foundation at the back, Sweden are looking to go an entire group stage without conceding at a major tournament for the first time since the first group stage at the 1974 World Cup.
Poland will once again look to talisman Robert Lewandowski to show them the way. A goal today would see Lewandowski overtake Jakub Blaszczykowski for the most goals ever scored by a Pole at the European Championships (four).
What happens in this one is anyone’s guess. Poland come into this game knowing only a win will do, and our match predictor gives them the slight edge at 38.1%. Sweden will be desperate to hold onto top spot in the group though and a win (31.6%) would guarantee that.
The group-wide permutations are wild. Other than Sweden, all three teams can still finish anywhere in group. There’s all to play for.
The Group of Death also reaches its conclusion tonight. Despite looking precariously balanced at first glance, our model estimates Germany and Portugal are pretty much there, with France already qualified. Perhaps we exhausted most of the jeopardy in Group E.
England fans will be praying that Hungary can do something miraculous against Germany, knowing that second place in this group awaits the Three Lions in the Last 16.
They might need to be literally praying for that outcome however, as our match predictor overwhelmingly favours the Germans tonight, giving them an 81.9% chance of winning. A Hungary win sits at just 5.8% suggesting an upset is very unlikely, but then again, no-one expected them to get anything against France and they did.
For any optimistic England fans looking for a crumb of comfort, Germany and Hungary’s only previous encounter at a major tournament came in the 1954 World Cup. They faced each other in the group, with Hungary beating West Germany 8-3. That defeat remains Germany’s heaviest to date at a major tournament. We won’t mention the fact the two sides then met in the final, with West Germany coming out as 3-2 winners…
Germany were eliminated from the group stages at the 2018 World Cup; they have never gone out at the group stage of consecutive major tournaments (World Cup and Euros) and we don’t expect that to start here.
France and Portugal square up in the other game in Group F. With defeat against Germany in their previous match, it was starting to look a little bit treacherous for Portugal, but results elsewhere have meant that, even on three points, their superior goal difference is probably enough to send them through.
They’ll face a French team who are unbeaten in each of their last 11 group stage games at major international tournaments (World Cup and Euros), winning seven and drawing four. Our predictor gives Les Blues the edge tonight, with them at 41.5% to win the match and top the group.