Welcome to The Data Day, our daily Euro 2020 stats blog where we try and make sense of what just happened.
Pulling Rabbits of out the Verr(h)atti
You, an optimistic Wales fan: So, Italy made eight changes to their starting line-up. That’s the joint-most they’ve ever made for one game at a major tournament. That means they’ll be disjointed and a little sluggish at the start, right? We’ve got a chance here, right?
Despite those changes, Italy never really looked under threat in their final group match against the Welsh. Matteo Pessina’s first-half goal was enough to see them prevail 1-0 in Rome and top the group with a 100% record.
Winning all your group matches is a lot rarer than it sounds. Nobody managed it at Euro 2016 and only Germany did it at Euro 2012. You can now add Italy to that list. The Azzurri’s Euro 2020 report card reads: Played 3. Won 3. Goals Scored 7. Goals conceded 0.
It was yet another win that extends Italy’s remarkable unbeaten run. Roberto Mancini’s men have now gone 30 games in a row without defeat (W25 D5), equalling their all-time longest unbeaten run between November 1935 and July 1939. It goes without saying that Mancini’s win rate of 74% is the best of any Italian manager to have managed at least five matches.
It was yet another clean sheet, their 11th in a row. That tally means that Italy have now gone 1,058 minutes without conceding a goal. You could watch the extended edition of all three Lord of the Rings films and still have over six hours to sit there twiddling your thumbs, pondering a) why didn’t the Fellowship just fly the ring to Mordor on the eagles and b) man, these Italians sure can defend. I wonder if there’s some history to that?
Marco Verratti, one of those eight replacements, was a magician in midfield, dictating Italy’s tempo throughout. The PSG man completed 103 passes and took 136 touches, both comfortably game-highs, spraying the ball all over the park. Ignoring Spain’s gluttony of possession against Sweden on Matchday 1, both those figures are the highest at Euro 2020 so far.
He created five chances in the match (another high). One of these was his low free-kick that assisted the only goal of the game as Pessina notched his third in as many games for Italy.
It was always going to be hard for Wales, but the task became gargantuan after Ethan Ampadu become the second-youngest player to get sent off in a Euros match. He’ll be thanking Netherlands’ John Heitinga for seeing red against Czech Republic aged just 62 days younger than him, exempting him from a very unwanted record.
In truth, the jeopardy for Wales was only hypothetical. Despite Switzerland’s 3-1 win against Turkey, Wales’ superior goal difference sees them qualify in second place. It also continues their 100% record of qualifying from the group stages at every major tournament they’ve played in (after the 1958 World Cup and Euro 2016).
They’ll play the runner-up in Group B, which is anyone’s guess at this point in time. But if you’re going to have a guess, you may as well make an educated one. Our predictor says Russia are their most likely opponents, with their chances of coming second in group B at 43.9%. Denmark’s chances are at 31.1% and Finland’s 14.8%. Italy play the runner-up in Group C, which is likely to be Ukraine (69% chance of finishing second). Both sides will fancy their chances at progressing given those matchups.
What felt like the third-place playoff match in Baku saw Switzerland beat Turkey 3-1 in a match that witnessed an astonishing 42 shots attempted – a tally that sets a new record for a group stage match in European Championship history.
Xherdan Shaqiri was the hero with two goals, taking his tally in international tournaments to seven – a record for a Swiss player. His two goals, as well as the opener by Haris Seferovic, were all assisted by left-sided midfielder Steven Zuber, as the 29-year-old became the third player to register a hat-trick of assists in a European Championship match since 1980 and joined illustrious company in Michael Laudrup and Rui Costa.
For the Swiss, they now have to wait and see if they’ll be one of the four teams to seal a Last 16 place after finishing third in their group. As it stands, our predictor gives them a 96.9% chance based on the matches left to play in the remaining five groups and all possible teams that could finish third.
Euro 2020 was a disaster for a Turkish team tipped to surprise many and go far in the tournament. As it was, they did surprise many, but in how bad their performances were. True, we gave the Turks the lowest chance of qualifying for the knockout stages from Group A in our pre-tournament predictor at 48%, but in losing all three matches and having a goal difference of -7, this turned out to be their worst-ever appearance at a tournament. Only Yugoslavia in 1984 (10), Bulgaria in 2004 (nine) and Ireland in 2012 (nine) have conceded more goals in a European Championship group stage than Turkey (eight) this year.
As we reach day 10 of Euro 2020, we have seen each team play twice at the tournament and now begin the final matchday of the group stage. Only three of the 16 teams to qualify for the knockout stages have been determined, so there’s still so much to play for across the next four days.
Yesterday saw France stumble to a 1-1 draw against Hungary, but our predictor still fancies the French to lift the trophy in the tournament, with a 23.3% chance of success. The other game in Group F saw Germany blow Portugal away with a 4-2 win in Munich, which has seen the Germans’ chance of winning Euro 2020 increase to the second-highest chance in our tournament predictor (12.2%).
Moving on to today’s action, we’ll see already-qualified Italy face almost-definitely-qualified Wales (99.3% chance in our predictor) in a match that’s going to determine who qualifies from Group A as the winner.
Before their great 2-0 win against Turkey, Wales’ chance of progression to the Last 16 stood at just 38.5% – with Turkey the favourites in the match. But that performance has boosted confidence in this Welsh side and why not – the only team to win more games in the European Championship tournaments than Wales (5) since 2016 are world champions France (6).
Just Italy have also won five in this time and are now on a 29-game unbeaten run in all competitions. If they avoid defeat in this game then they will equal their all-time longest unbeaten run of 30 games between November 1935 and July 1939. Our match predictor thinks this win is very likely (72.9%), meaning they’d qualify for the Last 16 with three wins from three in Group A. Only one team has done this across the last two Euro tournaments – Germany in 2012.
At the same time as this game in Rome, Switzerland face Turkey in Baku with the aim of ousting Wales and taking second spot should they lose against Italy. The Swiss will have to rely on a big goal difference swing to do this, though.
Turkey haven’t even scored a goal at Euro 2020 yet and have very little chance of making it through to the knockout stages – a 1.3% chance, to be precise. Even with a win in this match, it’s looking likely that to qualify as one of the four third-placed teams in the Last 16, four points will be needed.
Şenol Güneş’ side have lost both of their games at EURO 2020, by an aggregate score of 0-5. In a full tournament, only Denmark in 2000 (8) have conceded more goals without reply. Meanwhile, Switzerland (D1 L1) are looking to avoid remaining winless in all three of their group stage games at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004.
Our match predictor thinks that a Swiss win is most likely in this match, at a 59.8% chance – which is likely to mean they can at least seal a third-place finish with a record solid enough to be one of the four teams to qualify for the Last 16.