The Data Day at Euro 2020: No.3
Soccer

The Data Day at Euro 2020: No.3

Welcome to The Data Day, our daily Euro 2020 blog where we try and make sense of what just happened.


Dutch Courage

It was a frantic start in at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, unlike any we’ve seen at Euro 2020 so far. The Netherlands fired in seven shots on goal in the opening 10 minutes, the most by any team since recorded data began in 1980. Ukraine weren’t shot-shy either, attempting two themselves. The other games at Euro 2020 have seen a combined 10 shots in the first 10 minutes, so clearly neither team had the intention of easing into the tournament. It was a sign of things to come, just not straight away.

Fast-forward 80 minutes, and this became the first-ever match in the history of the European Championships to see five goals scored in the second half of a match that was 0-0 at half-time.

Netherlands Ukraine Euro 2020 xG

That early enthusiasm from Frank De Boer’s team quickly subsided with the Netherlands not having another attempt on goal until the 37th minute. The Dutch posted an expected goals figure of 1.19 in the first half, the highest of any team in the first half of the Euros thus far (and better than six teams over 90 minutes) but had nothing to show for their efforts. They were the fourth team to have 10+ shots in the first half in the tournament after Italy, Denmark and Switzerland, with all four failing to score.

After a seven-year absence (2,528 days) from the biggest stages, it was fitting that the man who scored the Netherlands’ last major tournament goal at World Cup 2014 in the third-place playoff broke the deadlock here. Georginio Wijnaldum made no mistake in capitalising on Georgi Bushchan’s spill to give the Netherlands the lead.

Wijnaldum xG vs Ukraine

It was his fifth shot of the match, more than he had in any club game for Liverpool this season, but for the national team, he’s a reliant outlet for goals. Since September 2018, only Memphis Depay (17) has more goals for the Netherlands than the midfielder (15) recently acquired by Paris Saint-Germain.

Wout Weghorst followed up his first senior international goal last week with his first at a major tournament. He’s now scored in 23 of 44 appearances for club and country this season (since August 1).

It seemingly settled the match, but Andriy Shevchenko’s team had other ideas. First, Andriy Yarmolenko netted a spectacular strike to give hope, which was then followed up Roman Yaremchuk’s equaliser with their next shot on goal. Ukraine hadn’t scored with any of their previous 72 shots since current manager Shevchenko scored at Euro 2012, so to say this comeback was surprising would be some understatement.

There was still time for further drama however, as Denzel Dumfries atoned for his earlier misses in the match to send the Netherlands back in front. Dumfries scored the latest winning goal for the Netherlands at the Euros since current manager Frank de Boer scored an 89th-minute penalty in 2000 against the Czech Republic.

Dumfries xG vs Ukraine

This match had it all – becoming the European Championships match with the most goals (five) after being goalless at the half-time interval, showing that good things come to those who wait. The first halves of matches have produced four goals from 74 shots (5.4% conversion) with a 6.5 xG. The second halves have seen 15 goals from 72 shots (20.8% conversion) with a 9.2 xG.

The result leaves Ukraine in a slightly more complicated position in Group C, but our model still has them at 74.1% to progress. As for the Netherlands, the victory increased their chances to 98.8% with a 77.6% chance to win a Group C that’s perhaps provided the most excitement of the tournament to date.


Super Subs Save Austria

Austria were out to spoil the party for tournament debutants North Macedonia, and it didn’t take long for them to find an opening goal. Amazingly, this was the first time they have ever led in a European Championship match, despite this being their seventh attempt at doing so.

Borussia Mönchengladbach wing-back Stefan Lainer became just the third Austrian player to score at Euros after Ivica Vastic in 2008 and Alessandro Schöpf in 2016, hooking brilliantly onto Marcel Sabitzer’s diagonal pass from deep. By the end of the 90 minutes, Austria had scored more goals at Euro 2020 than they had in their previous two tournament appearances.

Sabitzer’s creativity was something that North Macedonia would have to keep tabs on throughout the game, with his cross-field passes frequently causing them trouble. After this performance, he leads the way for expected assists at Euro 2020 so far (0.83).

Sabitzer passes v North Macedonia

North Macedonia were not to be denied however, capitalising on a defensive mix-up to score their first ever European Championship goal with their first-ever shot (like debutants Finland also did yesterday), and of course it had to be their main man Goran Pandev to make history.

The wily veteran, who made his debut for his country in June 2001, became the second-oldest scorer in the Euros history at the age of 37 years and 321 days old, behind only Austria’s Vastic who was 38 when he netted in 2008. To put that in perspective, England’s Jude Bellingham was born more than two years after Pandev made his first appearance for his country.

oldest euros scorers

Austrian star David Alaba was relied upon to control the match in a libero role, having the second most touches at the tournament thus far (114) and broke a record for the most completed passes by an Austrian in a European Championships match (93). However, by playing so deep for the majority of the game, his influence in attack was nullified until the final 15 minutes.

Alaba touches

He finally ventured wide to his favoured left-flank to provide a devilish cross that found substitute Michael Gregoritsch to net the deciding goal, before fellow substitute Marko Arnautovic also got in on the act to seal Austria’s first-ever win in the competition. Cameo contributions are becoming something of a trademark for Austria at the European Championships, with four of their five tournament goals coming via the substitute bench.

Will their late surges at the end of matches prove crucial in Group C progression? Our prediction model now rates their chances of reaching the knockout stages at 92.2%, but with two tough games to come in the form of the Netherlands and Ukraine they can’t relax yet.


Kalvin Shines

Eyebrows were raised when the England team was announced for their opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia. The main reason being Kieran Trippier’s pick at left-back over recognised left-sided defensive options Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell, but also Kalvin Phillips’ inclusion in central midfield. England fans shouldn’t have doubted Gareth Southgate’s decision.

Leeds star Phillips put in a phenomenal display in what was only his ninth appearance for England. He misplaced just two of his 33 passes, not placing a wayward pass in the match until his 31st attempt in the 63rd minute of the match. The central midfielder played close to the line at times, with a match-high three fouls for England but escaped without receiving a card.

One of his passes came after a driving run to assist the only goal of the game for Raheem Sterling – the first England player to assist a goal on his European Championship debut since David Beckham assisted twice against Portugal in 2000. Goal scorer Sterling kept up his streak as England’s lucky charm, as they have now won all 11 matches that the Manchester City forward has scored in.

Kieran Trippier’s selection on the left side of defence was questioned by many pre-match, but he was another player who justified Southgate’s decision. He attempted the most passes both overall (65) and in the opposition half (34), while also having the most touches of any player in a Three Lions shirt (83).

Trippier v Croatia

That was reflected in England’s play overall with 50% of their attacking half touches coming on the left third, 23.1% in the middle and 26.9% on the right. Mason Mount often drifted left, which then allowed Phillips to push into more advanced positions with Declan Rice in behind.

Mason Mount Euro 2020 vs. Croatia

It was the fourth time since the start of 2020-21 that Tripper had been selected at left-back for England, which is more than Ben Chilwell (three) and Luke Shaw (two) so it could be said that the only surprise was the surprise from fans at his starting place.

Jude Bellingham youngest

Another positive aspect of the game for England was Jude Bellingham’s appearance as a substitute in the 82nd minute. In playing, Bellingham became the youngest-ever man to appear at a European Championships tournament and is the youngest to play for England in a major tournament (17 years, 349 days).

England’s chances of winning Euro 2020 haven’t improved yet. Our predictor gives them only 5.5% of success this summer, but strangely their potential route to the final could be harder if they win Group D. We give them an 82.2% chance of doing just that following this win at Wembley.

Croatia, meanwhile, need to find some sort of attacking threat in their remaining group matches against Czech Republic and Scotland. Ivan Perišić often seemed on his own up front. For those who felt Harry Kane felt absent (26 touches), Croatia striker Anton Rebic finished with 22 in 78 minutes and completed six of 13 passes and just two in England’s half of the pitch.

The 2018 World Cup runners-up managed two shots on target and totalled a 0.36 xG.

Croatia Euro 2020 Shots vs. England

That follows a similar showing in a 1-0 defeat to Belgium on June 6 (0.53 xG) and a 1-1 draw against Armenia five days prior.

Croatia’s odds of winning Group C fell to 3.6%, though their chances to reach the Round of 16 are still at 70%.


A New Day

Yesterday’s events in Copenhagen meant that the football that followed felt almost irrelevant. With the positive news that Christian Eriksen is recovering in hospital and was able to speak to teammates within hours of his collapse, we move to day three of Euro 2020 with the relief that the outcome could have been so much worse.

We begin Sunday at Wembley Stadium, where England host Croatia in the opening match in Group D. The Three Lions have never lost at Wembley in a major tournament, winning seven and drawing four of their previous 11 games (excluding shootouts).

There are high hopes for a youthful England side in this tournament, with Gareth Southgate naming a squad with an average age of 25 years, 115 days old. This is the second-youngest squad at Euro 2020 behind Turkey, while it’s England’s youngest squad at a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.

With an average of 4.6 goals per game in qualification for the finals, England had the highest average goal ratio of any side but are traditionally slow starters in European Championship finals. They have never won their opening game at a European Championship tournament (D5 L4). Conversely, opponents Croatia are unbeaten in their five Euro openers (W4 D1).

England v Croatia prediction

Despite this, England are given a 67.5% chance of victory in our match predictor, with home advantage coupled with a good form – six wins in a row – naturally deemed more important than a historical quirk.

The second match of the day takes place in Bucharest, as Austria face tournament debutants North Macedonia.

The Austrians have an awful record in European Championship finals, failing to collect a single victory in six matches (two draws, four defeats). In fact, no team has played more games in the tournament (six) without winning one, while they haven’t even held a lead in the competition before. Can they break that duck today? We give them a 57.5% chance of doing so in our match predictor, against a North Macedonian side that our tournament predictor rates as one of the least likely to exit the groups (28.9%).

austria v north macedonia prediction

The late kick-off today sees the Netherlands host Ukraine in Amsterdam, looking to make it three wins out of three against their opponents since first playing them in 2008.

The Netherlands’ last played a major tournament match at the Johan Cruijff Arena in their Euro 2000 semi final versus Italy. On that day, they attempted 31 shots and had 71% possession but exited the tournament on penalties – this is a chance to exorcise those demons.

Memphis Depay could be the key man for the Dutch. He scored or delivered an assist every 38 minutes in the qualifying campaign (six goals, seven assists in 495 minutes), the best ratio among the 55 players to have been directly involved in at least five goals during qualification.

Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov will be the man hoping to keep him out. He saved 88.6% of his shots faced in the qualifiers (31/35), a better ratio than any other goalkeeper who featured in more than five games.

Netherlands v Ukraine prediction

Our match predictor gives the Netherlands a 66.5% chance of glory this evening, with the Dutch the overwhelming favourites to make it to the knockout stages from Group C (96%). Ukraine (72.5%) and Austria (72.2%) look set to battle it out for second place, so a good start for both sides today will be vital.