The Data Day at Euro 2020: No.20
Soccer

The Data Day at Euro 2020: No.20

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


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London, July 6, 2021. Wembley is more than half full, there’s a massive semi-final taking place. It’s the last four of the Euros. It’s Italy against Spain. Everything seems… kind of normal?

We’ve all waited a long time for an occasion this big, this normal, in this tournament that in April seemed like a stretch and in early July feels like the best thing we’ve ever experienced. Summer loving, happens so fast.

The game is tactical, naturally, in the first half. Italy start well but Spain grow into it. Italy reach half-time without a shot on target, but with a goal disallowed for offside. Spain muster just one shot on target, but any idea that Italy will romp through to the final in the way they had dismissed so many teams up until this point is fanciful. This is Spain, who have won two of the last three Euros. The trophy has resided in Iberia since 2008, it hasn’t belonged to a country whose people can’t paddle their feet in the Mediterranean since 1996. That year again.

We’re a long way from the Med, though, as Federico Chiesa opens the scoring on the hour. A man whose father played and scored at Euro 96, Chiesa has grown into this tournament impressively, and seems to relish playing at Wembley. Spain’s reaction to the goal is to introduce Alvaro Morata, very much not the Federico Chiesa of the tournament, but a man eternally and overly maligned. A meme capable of creating memories all the same. And he does, with 10 minutes of the game remaining; his sixth career goal at the Euros, more than any other Spanish player in history. He’s had the last laugh, everything’s going to turn out just fine.

Except…

Look, other than anguished Italy and Spain fans, there wasn’t a person on the planet who didn’t want extra-time and while it won’t go down as a classic extra 30, it was still additional content in this superb game. For Italy it was the 20th time a tournament game of theirs had gone to the additional period, a European record, which probably won’t surprise anyone. Spain, meanwhile, were emulating Portugal in 2016 by going to extra-time for the third time in the same Euros. Portugal lifted the trophy then, Spain will not. The penalty shootout that ensued was not high on quality but Morata seemed destined to miss at a key point and if you want anyone other than Jorginho to stroke home the decisive kick I’m afraid you are lying.

There’s comfortable familiarity in the post-match stats; Italy winning on penalties after mustering only 0.8 xG in 120 minutes, but still getting caught offside eight times. Spain going out on penalties in a Euros game at Wembley for the second time, both times with Luis Enrique on their bench. They also ended the game with 70% possession and a pass completion rate of 89%. In uncertain times, in a difficult year, Italy and Spain went back to their roots and served us up a classic. Italy will return to Wembley on Sunday to face Denmark or England. All we can ask for is more of the same.

Italy v Spain xG Map

Our predictor has Italy on 60% to win the competition, with England on 31% and Denmark on 9%. 49 games down, two to go. The end is in sight. Please don’t let this tournament end.