Key Stats from the First Two Euro 2024 Quarter Finals
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Key Stats from the First Two Euro 2024 Quarter Finals

06/07/24 12:27

On a day that promised a feast of fast-moving football from all four nations involved in the first set of quarter finals, fans both in attendance and those watching on from afar may feel slightly let down by the quality that ended up being on display.

The first quarter final, in which favorites Spain vanquished hosts Germany 2-1 to boot them out of their own tournament with just a minute of extra time to spare, was a superb game of football, but it took a frustrating first 45 minutes to come alive.

The second game, in which Portugal and France played out a tepid, listless 0-0 draw, was nothing short of dire for 90% of the game, with only occasional bursts of brilliance from certain players who were likely as bored as the fans.

Here, we will take a deeper dive into some of the meaningful stats and trends which helped decide yesterday's results, while simultaneously looking to the future to see if there are any giveaway indicators that may provide a hint as to the outcome of the now confirmed first semi final.

Spain 2-1 Germany: Match Overview

Listed as a ‘European Championship Final”, the game was highly anticipated, seeing a revived Germany take on the most impressive performing side of the tournament so far in Spain.

The tenth meeting between the two nations, Germany faced an uphill battle from the outset, having defeated Spain just once in any of the previous nine games, all the way back in 2014, and this was a meaningless friendly.

The first half was an aggressive, cagey affair, in which the ball seemed to stand still for dead ball scenarios more than it was in open play. With just two minutes gone, a sturdy Toni Kroos challenge ended up with Pedri lying on the deck, who just five minutes later decided he wasn’t fit to continue, seeing Leipzig midfielder Dani Olmo replace him. This would be a critical moment.

Kai Havertz saw the best chances of the first period, a header and a scuffed half volley finding the arms of Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon, while Dani Olmo and Nico Williams had Spain’s best opportunities, forcing Manuel Neuer into low saves on both occasions.

The second half saw much more of the ball in play, and just six minutes after the restart, Spain took the lead, after the subbed on Dani Olmo swept home after a perfectly weighted cut back by 16-year-old Lamine Yamal found him arriving at the edge of the box.

Incidentally, the assist takes Yamal top of the assist standings at the tournament with 3, showing yet again why the 16-year-old is so highly rated by both the national team and his club Barcelona.

Germany dominated from this point onwards, bringing on super-sub target man Nicolas Fullkrug to partner Havertz up front to pose a different puzzle to the Spanish center backs, who simply couldn’t cope. Fullkrug brought others into attack with his hold up play, and he also hit the post himself.

The pressure eventually told, and substitute Florian Wirtz was there to equalize with one minute of normal time to go after a high cross was knocked perfectly into his path. The Stuttgart Arena erupted with noise, and Germany used the momentum of the fans to try and capitalize in extra time, in which Wirtz came close again, scraping the outside of the post, while a glancing Fullkrug header had to be brilliantly stopped by Simon to keep the game level.

Spain, who had taken off starting front three Morata, Yamal and Williams to try and protect their lead in the second half of normal time, lacked threat going forward, and focused on keeping Germany at bay, until the 119th minute of the game, when Dani Caravajal made an intelligent cross field pass to shift the focus of the attack.

The ball was worked to Olmo, who whipped in a delicious cross onto the forehead of another substitute Mikel Merino, who straining every muscle in his body, planted his header into the corner of a static Manuel Neuer’s net. The celebrations were joyous, but they also added plenty of additional time in which Germany could find a late equalizer.

However, despite threatening, and seeing Spain given a red card after a cynical Dani Caravajal foul, they couldn’t find a dramatic equalizer. Spain had dumped them out of their home Euros, the first time this had happened in the quarter final stage, and had to resort to watching the rest of the competition from home.

Stats:

  • Mikel Merino’s late header was the second latest winning goal in Euros history, trailing only Artem Dovbyk’s 120+1 strike in Ukraine’s dramatic last 16 win over Sweden at Euro 2020.
  • Dani Olmo became the first substitute to both score and assist in the same game at this year's tournament, the last player to achieve this being Kevin De Bruyne at Euro 2020, in Belgium's 2-1 comeback win over Denmark.
  • The game saw 15 yellow cards and 1 red card, making it the second worst disciplined game at this tournament so far, behind the 18 yellows and 2 reds handed out during Turkey’s 2-1 win over Czechia.
  • Spain and Germany place one and two respectively in fouls committed. Spain stands on 74 after 5 matches, while Germany remains on 68. The closest team is Austria on 61. No wonder there were cards galore.
  • Dani Caravajal’s 120+5 sending off is the latest red card in the history of the tournament, beating the previous record, held by Nuno Gomes of Portugal by seven minutes. The record had stood since Euro 2000.
  • Spain have had the most shots on goal at the tournament so far with 102, eight more than second placed Germany. The closest remaining team is France, at 89. Spain also have the most attempts on target of any side, with 35.
  • Spain had just 48% possession against Germany, the second time in the tournament they have had the ball less than their opponents, the first being against Croatia. Prior to Croatia, they had dominated possession in each of their previous 136 competitive games, dating all the way back to the Euro 2008 final which was also against Germany, where they saw 46% of the ball.
  • Germany and Spain have met three times in the knockout stages of major tournaments, with Spain emerging victorious on each occasion. At each tournament in which the two nations have faced each other in the elimination rounds, Spain have gone on to become champions. Foreboding …?

France 0-0 Portugal (5-3 pens): Match Overview

After the drama provided by the first semi final, and due to the fact that extra time needed to be played out to decide the game, viewers arrived on BBC for the France vs Portugal game with just 25 minutes in which to eat, drink and generally prepare themselves.

And they were expectant. They expected quality in what was a rematch of the 2016 final, and with the players who were out on the pitch, it’s hard to blame them. But football is a game of form, and neither country really had any coming into the game, France had failed to score since their second group game, while France were yet to score a goal from open play, and had converted just three goals in four matches so far.

The major pre-match discussion points above proved correct, in what was an exceptionally cagey performance from both sides, neither willing to risk a mistake. The first half saw almost no action, Hernandez having the best chance of the period as he saw a long range effort parried by Diogo Costa in the Portuguese net.

The second half was more of the same, with both teams content to pass around the back and patiently wait for an obvious opening. But around the hour mark, the game suddenly burst into life.

Bruno Fernandes and Vitinha forced two excellent saves from Mike Maignan in quick succession, before France started to threaten. Randal Kolo-Muani saw a close range effort brilliantly blocked by Ruben Dias, before Edouardo Camavinga somehow missed the target from the right side of the six yard box. Ousmane Dembele then saw a delicious curling effort from the edge of the box agonizingly clip the outside of the post.

All of these opportunities came within a ten minute period, and after Dembele’s unfortunate encounter with the woodwork, the game became inexplicably dormant again. Kylian Mbappe was quiet all game, being limited to low quality opportunities from the edge of the area, and he received a ball to the side of the head during the flurry of chances, after which he was most definitely on the margins of most French attacks.

Extra time arrived, and Portugal edged it in terms of chances created. Cristiano Ronaldo, a non-factor up this point, skyed a close range effort from a bobbling pull back, before Rafael Leao, who was one of the few to have a good game, saw a close range volley well blocked.

At the halfway point of extra time, French coach Didier Deschamps made the bold decision to hook Mbappe, who had been very quiet since the blow to his head, and replaced him with PSG youngster Bradley Barcola. But it was a change that changed little for France, who failed to threaten the Portugal goal with any real menace for the whole half hour.

Portugal had a chance to win it in the last seconds of the 120th minute, after brilliant skill from Nuno Mendes opened up the France midfield. Mendes arrived at the edge of the box to meet Bernardo Silva’s cut back, but like almost everything else about the match, the finish was underwhelming, and his weak foot strike could only roll into the grateful gloves on Maignan.

Both sides had failed to score yet again, and Portugal, for the second time in as many games, found themselves in the midst of a penalty shootout. After Diogo Costa’s heroics in the shootout against Slovenia, Portugal may have been hopeful coming into it, and they certainly had better form than France, who had lost each of their last three spot kick contests.

But neither side showed signs of blinking, and the first five were all convincingly dispatched. However, the sixth penalty, which fell on the shoulders of extra time substitute Joao Felix, struck the base of the post to hand France a sudden advantage.

Barcola converted with no fuss, and while Nuno Mendes kept Portugal in the shootout just a little longer with a superb penalty into the top corner, Diogo Costa couldn’t replicate his performance against Slovenia, with Theo Hernandez thrashing away the decisive penalty.

It was a game that in hindsight deserved to go to a penalty shootout, not because neither side deserved to lose, but because neither side truly served to win.

BBC columnist and former Chelsea player Chris Sutton put it succinctly: “If France were playing in the back garden, I’d close the curtains.”

Stats:

  • France have failed to score an open play goal in their last six games, stretching all the way back to their last Euro warm up game, where they drew 0-0 to Canada. Mbappe was the last player to achieve this for France, when he scored late on against Luxembourg on June 5th. This is the first time the French experienced a drought this bad in 60 years since stats were recorded, according to Opta.
  • With this record, France have become the first time in Euros history to reach the semi finals of the tournament without scoring a goal from open play.
  • Despite this, France have out-shot all of their opponents so far, and have the third most attempts at goal by any nation at the tournament, with 89, level with Portugal.
  • Prior to their 5-3 shootout win over Portugal, France had lost their last three competitive penalty showdowns: World Cup Final 2022 - Lost 4-2 vs Argentina. Euro 2020 Round of 16, Lost 5-4 vs Switzerland. World Cup Final 2006, lost 5-3 vs Italy.
  • France have reached the semi finals in 4 out of the last 5 major international tournaments, with the exception of their round of 16 defeat to Switzerland at Euro 2020. Each time they reached the semi final stage, they successfully reached the final.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo played the second most minutes (486) of any player at the tournament as of the quarter final stage, and took a total of 23 attempts at goal, the most of any player at the competition, but failed to find the net.
  • Portugal have gone 395 minutes without a goal since Bruno Fernades scored early in the second half of their second group game with Turkey. They subsequently lost to Georgia 2-0, beat Slovenia on penalties after a 0-0 draw, and of course, failed to score against France in another penalty showdown.
Benji Kosartiyer
Journalist
Harry Pascoe

Football Writer

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