The opening European Championship tournament of the 2020s was unlike an other before it. Firstly it was delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Secondly it had no set host nation(s), instead seeing matches played across the continent in 11 different European countries.

Italy prevailed following a penalty shootout win over England in the final at Wembley Stadium to pick up their second European Championship title. It was their first in 53 years (also 1968), which is the longest-ever gap between championships in the tournament by a single nation, surpassing Spain’s 44-year wait from 1964 to 2008.

Here, we look back over the tournament through its key data themes and stories.

Goals, Goals, Goals

Regardless of your team persuasion, Euro 2020 was objectively fun. Many thought that a gruelling domestic season combined with matches being played all over Europe would lead to dire, turgid matches with sides almost too tired to commit to any form of high energy, exciting play. But Euro 2020 said ‘think again’.

The 2.78 goals per game ratio is the highest of any European Championship since 1980, and we were blessed with some truly spectacular matches.

Without a doubt, 28 June 2021 will go down in history as one of the all-time great knockout days, with Spain defeating Croatia 5-3 in extra-time, before Switzerland knocked out favourites France on penalties after a pulsating 3-3 draw.

European Championship Goals per Game

The refereeing also felt good. There was clearly a directive from UEFA for referees to encourage the game to flow, being more lenient on ‘smaller’ fouls, as well as a fairly no-nonsense attitude to simulation. This led to Euro 2020 producing the fewest fouls per game of any tournament since 1980, and fewer stoppages in play have enabled games to flow freely.

European Championships Fouls per Game

The Youngsters Who Came of Age

Euro 2020 saw the emergence (in some cases) and confirmation (in plenty of others) of some of the world’s most talented youngsters. None more so than Pedri. Plucked from second-tier club Las Palmas, the midfielder became an integral part of Barcelona’s midfield in 2020-21 and made his Spain debut in March this year in a World Cup qualifying match against Greece.

The fact he made his international debut just three months before these finals and had only played four matches prior to the tournament showed everyone how talented he is. Pedri played 629 out of a possible 630 minutes for Spain at Euro 2020. For an 18-year-old in a major tournament, Luis Enrique put some serious trust in him.

The Barça star showed composure on the ball that belied his 18 years of age. Against Italy in the semi-final he completed every single one of his passes in regulation time.

The years since this tournament haven’t been kind to Pedri, with numerous injuries seeing him play just six competitive games in three years post-Euro 2020, but he’ll hope those woes are behind him ahead of Euro 2024.

Pedri Euro 2020

His importance to Spain at Euro 2020 didn’t always show up in traditional metrics like assists, or even in chances created because he doesn’t always play the final pass. But his involvement in Spain’s attacking build-up to shots is second to none. Only the Italian duo of Lorenzo Insigne and Jorginho – who both played an extra game – were involved in more shot-ending sequences than the Spaniard’s 37, who won the Young Player of the Tournament award.

History was broken elsewhere too. Against Spain, Poland’s Kacper Kozlowski (17 years and 246 days) became the youngest ever player to make an appearance at the European Championship while Jude Bellingham came on against Croatia to become the youngest ever English player to play in any major tournament.

Ronaldo’s Records

Not only is Cristiano Ronaldo the only player in history to play in five different European Championship tournaments, he’s scored in every single one of them since 2004.

Euro 2020 was no different, with the Portuguese picking up the Golden Boot despite exiting the tournament in the last 16. Ronaldo netted five times – the same tally as Patrik Schick – but with an assist to his name, it was enough to beat the Czech forward to the award.

The five goals he scored in this tournament were the most he’s netted in a single European Championships and it brought his total competition tally to 14 goals – five clear of next best Michel Platini (nine).

Cristiano Ronaldo European Championship Goals

His 14 goals in European Championship history have come from 137 shots overall – 95 shots more than any other player since his first tournament in 2004.

Three Lions’ Pride

England just fell short in their quest to win their first major men’s title in 55 years, and it came in the most English fashion of all – penalty shootout disappointment. Despite this, Gareth Southgate and his side could hold their heads high at their best tournament appearance since that 1966 World Cup victory.

With an average starting XI age of 26 years and 54 days at Euro 2020, England were the youngest at the tournament. In the 0-0 draw with Scotland in the group stage, their starting selection was the youngest-ever by an English men’s team at a major international tournament (25y 31d).

Their journey to the final was predominantly built on a solid defence. England became the first team to keep a clean sheet in each of their first five games at a single edition of the European Championship, while their seven straight clean sheets in all competitions broke new ground for the Three Lions.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford set a new record for an England goalkeeper for most minutes without conceding, overtaking the legendary Gordon Banks’ 720 minutes set between May/July 1966 (725 mins in total).

Italy vs England Euro 2020 Final

Across the whole tournament, no side restricted their opposition more than England did (0.70 xG faced per 90) but their emphasis on defence over attack came unstuck in the final against the second-best defensive team in Italy (0.75 xG faced per 90).

Star striker Harry Kane failed to touch the ball in the opposition box over the 120 minutes and England posted their lowest xG total (0.57) in a competitive game since their 2018 World Cup defeat to Croatia (0.55) exactly three years earlier.

Missed Penalties

Remember when Gareth Bale blasted the ball into orbit against Turkey? Or when Gerard Moreno and Alvaro Morata conspired to increase Spain’s penalty curse to five missed spot kicks in a row? They were not alone. Just nine of the 17 penalties (53%) were scored at Euro 2020, making it the second-worst for conversion rate in the history of the competition.

Euro 2020 Penalties

A Glut of Own Goals

If own goals were categorised as a player, they’d have scored the most goals in a single tournament of any player (11 – beating the next highest figure of Michel Platini’s nine in 1984).

For some unknown reason – and you can theorise all you want – there were loads of own goals this tournament. In fact, there were more own goals scored in Euro 2020 alone than there had been in the entire history of the competition.

Unsurprisingly that means we saw a host of own goal records fall:

  • Merih Demiral’s own goal in Turkey vs Italy was the first time ever the first goal at a European Championship tournament had been an own goal.
  • Against Slovakia, Poland’s Wojciech Szczesny became the first ever goalkeeper to score an own-goal at the European Championship finals.
  • Pedri’s own-goal against Croatia was Spain’s first-ever in the European Championship and came at a distance of 49 yards, the first own goal ever scored from outside the box in European Championship history.
  • In their 4-2 defeat to Germany, Portugal became the first reigning champions in European Championship history to concede four goals in a single match in the competition. In this game, Portugal became the first European side to concede two own goals in a single match at a major tournament.

The Wonderful Weirdness of Game State

England saw hopes of Euro 2020 glory crushed with their penalty shootout defeat in the final versus Italy, but can find an ounce of comfort in the fact that they only trailed for a tournament-low 1% of match time.

Southgate’s side only fell behind once during the entire tournament – for eight minutes and 53 seconds in the semi-final against Denmark.

The Netherlands’ led for the highest proportion of game time at Euro 2020 (50%), but it didn’t do them any good in the last 16 when they came unstuck against Czech Republic. There were four teams who didn’t lead at any point in the tournament: North Macedonia, Poland, Scotland and Turkey.

Spare a thought for Hungary. In the toughest group against giants Germany, France and Portugal, they trailed for only 4% of time at the finals – the second-best ratio.

They were just six minutes from knockout qualification before Leon Goretzka’s goal for Germany levelled the scores at 2-2 in Munich on the final day of Group F action, but as brave as their performances were, they couldn’t seal a shock last 16 spot.

Euro 2020 Game States

Forza Italia

Since the nadir of 2017, Italy’s redemption under Roberto Mancini was quick and decisive. The Azzurri’s unbeaten streak stood at 34 matches after beating England in a penalty shootout England in the final to win their second European Championship title. That run eventually stretched to 37 games before it was ended in a 2-1 loss to Spain in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals in Milan in October 2021.

When Luke Shaw scored to put England ahead in the final, Italy found themselves trailing in a game for the first time at Euro 2020, while overall they spent 65 minutes behind against England in the final, 21 more minutes than they had been behind in their 33-game unbeaten run coming into the final (44).

This was the hot summer of Chiellini and Bonucci, the old guard who had their last hurrah: Bonucci now the oldest player ever to score in a European Championship final, Chiellini the oldest outfield player to captain his side in a major final. The pair were at the heart of Italy’s defence and at the heart of what it means to be Italian.

It was also a great tournament for Marco Verratti who, despite missing the first match of the tournament, created a total of 14 chances, more than any other player.

In the final, the midfielder’s controlling influence on the game was apparent and laid bare one of England’s biggest deficiencies. He made 133 touches, which – at the time of his substitution in extra-time – was a record in a Euro final.

Marco Verratti Euro 2020

Only Spain had a better differential between their expected goals and expected goals against. Italy were undoubtedly a worthy tournament winner.

Enjoy this? Subscribe to our football newsletter to receive exclusive weekly content. You should also follow our social accounts over on XInstagramTikTok and Facebook.