Euro 2012: Can England Reach The Semis?

Congratulations to England, who have surpassed my expectations for Euro 2012 by reaching the quarter finals (at least) for only the second time on foreign soil since the tournament first had a finals stage in 1980. But what do the stats say about how they have played, and whether they can progress further?

England have so far had 10.3 shots per game (the fourth fewest of the sixteen teams at the finals), and have averaged 3.3 shots on target per game (the joint-fifth fewest). At the other end, they have given away 17.7 shots per game, the joint-fourth worst tally at the tournament so far.

This means that the Three Lions have only had 36.8% of the total shots in their matches so far, which is a worse figure than any Premier League team posted last season, if you’re looking for something to compare that with.

Whilst this suggests they haven’t been on the front-foot especially often, the following numbers show that they have been very efficient when in front of goal, and this has been a key factor in enabling them to top Group D

28.9% of shots on target were scored in the Premier League last season, yet so far England have converted a whopping 50% of theirs. Of course with a small sample of just three games such anomalies are far more possible (and indeed likely), but at the same time it would be unrealistic to expect this trend to continue long-term.

In terms of ball retention and action areas, England have averaged 42.3% possession (the tournament’s third lowest average) so far and have had just 25% of their actions in the final third of the pitch (the joint fifth lowest figure posted in Poland and Ukraine).

In short, England’s performances would be very unlikely to bring success over a long period (e.g. a whole league season), but as the Euros is a short tournament then who knows what can they achieve.

Standing in their way are Italy, and the stats from the tournament so far suggest that the Azzurri stand a good chance of progressing ahead of England:

Italy come out on top on every measure aside from shots on target conversion rate, and as they have a more realistic (and therefore sustainable) figure, they would be less concerned than England should be about their other figures.

Whilst they haven’t appeared to be overly threatening in their three games so far, Italy have still had the fifth most shots, the third most on target, and have the seventh best possession average at the tournament, so they certainly seem to have a edge over England.

Based on what I’ve seen of the two teams so far, I don’t think that Sunday’s game will be particularly pretty, and based on the stats, I would say England need to maintain their impressive (but somewhat unlikely) conversion percentage to prolong their stay in Poland. It pains me to say it, but I’m predicting a 2-1 win for the boys in blue.

Statistics were sourced from WhoScoredPlease take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here. You can follow me on Twitter here.

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