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Day 10: Woah we're halfway there
Three things to reflect on as we reach the midpoint of the Euros
We are somehow already over half way through Euro 2022 at this point, with sixteen games played and the second round of group matches all finished up. France beat Belgium to guarantee finishing top of their group whilst my beloved Iceland fumbled the bag once again to draw 1-1 with Italy. Here are a couple of thoughts I have been pondering over the first half of the tournament.
We seem to have three clear favourites
Going into the Euros, there were probably around six teams who all seemed to have a fairly good shout of winning the competition but now everyone has played two games, it seems reasonable to narrow that down to three. England, Germany and France have been the most impressive teams at the tournament so far. Obviously knock-out football is knock-out football and there is still time for some of the other suggested favourites to warm up a bit more but those three basically look the best going forward and the best defensively. They have scored nine, six and seven goals respectively and England and Germany are yet to concede. Astonishingly England have only even faced three shots on target (all data is Opta).
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P.S. Interestingly England top the list of both shots on target and shots on target faced, but Spain are the team who come in second on both. Where England have faced three shots on target and conceded none, Spain have faced four and conceded three…
P.P.S. If you want to look at the statistical likelihood of each of these teams winning the tournament, The Analyst is my favourite page to refresh each morning.
Some teams want to try and it is making them worse
There have been some hefty scorelines in this tournament. England’s 8-0 against Norway broke records in terms of both the number of goals scored in a first half and the margin of victory overall. The first half record had been broken only the day before by France in their 5-1 win over Italy. Germany also put 4 past Denmark in their opening group match.
What has stood out in these fixtures is the big wins have not come against the small teams in the competition. All three of those victories were against sides who had reasonable claims to coming second in the group (and all three still could!) It feels like this tournament has become somewhat of a tipping point for nations who want to mix it more with the big names but are not actually quite ready.
This is not to say that the defending in these matches was not absolutely atrocious - it was! Just that sides are embracing styles of play which might be more positive but which they perhaps are not ready to succeed at.
The margins at international tournaments are so slim
Okay this one is definitely self-evident but it feels like it has really been rammed home for two teams in particular at this tournament in Switzerland and Iceland. Euro 2017 was defined by smaller teams grabbing their opportunities and running with it as Austria reached the semi-final and Denmark the final. This year, the opposite has been true. Switzerland were 2-0 up against Portugal and drawing 1-1 with Sweden and ended up with only one point from both games. Twice Iceland have been 1-0 up and given up the lead when they should have extended it. Yesterday, they missed an amazing chance to go 2-0 up and Italy went down the other end and scored. There is a Euro’s world where both of those teams are already either through or very close to being through. Now it is more likely they will both go home at the group stages.