Euro 2024 stats: Key trends ahead of the continental showpiece
Euro 2024 qualifying, football

Euro 2024 stats: Key trends ahead of the continental showpiece

The countdown to Euro 2024 has begun after the draw for the group stage was made in Hamburg at the start of December.

England will face Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia in Group C as they bid to improve on their runner-up showing from Euro 2020, while Scotland will contest the opening match against tournament hosts Germany before meeting Switzerland and Hungary in Group A.

Should they come through a play-off in March, Wales have been drawn alongside the Netherlands, Austria and France in a tough-looking Group D.

We have looked back at the recent qualifying campaign for some key Euro 2024 stats and analysed the last seven tournaments to identify which teams are best placed to challenge for glory.

Which country has the best record?

The European Championship is arguably the second-biggest international competition on the planet, with only the World Cup commanding greater prestige.

The quality of teams involved makes it very difficult to predict, with six different nations having lifted the trophy since 1996.

Only Spain have won the tournament more than once, courtesy of their all-conquering side who managed to win back-to-back Euros in 2008 and 2012 as well as the 2010 World Cup.

Italy have reached the most finals in that period, with their 2020 victory over England making up for losses against Spain in 2012 and France in 2000.

Of the eight nations who have reached multiple semi-finals since 1996, seven have also failed to get out of the group at some point. Portugal are the only team to have a perfect record of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Who received the easiest and toughest draws?

Group D is arguably the most difficult on paper, with France and the Netherlands – ranked second and sixth in the world respectively – having been drawn side-by-side just as they were in qualifying.

However, Group B minnows Albania – the lowest-ranked nation to have qualified automatically for the tournament – have been handed the toughest draw of any individual team.

Their reward for a superb qualifying campaign will be meetings with defending champions Italy, 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia and three-time winners Spain.

On the other hand, group-stage specialists Portugal will be expected to reach the latter rounds once again, having received a favourable draw in Group F.

The 2016 champions will play Czech Republic, Turkey and the winners of a play-off between Greece, Georgia, Luxembourg and Kazakhstan.

Which teams impressed in qualifying?

England and France are currently priced as joint favourites in the Euro 2024 winner odds following a pair of stress-free qualifying campaigns.

Our analysis of the Euro 2024 stats show Gareth Southgate’s side faced an average of 4.9 shots per match – the fewest of any team – across a string of assured defensive displays, while World Cup runners-up France excelled in attack by firing an average of 21.1 shots on their opponents’ goal.

Didier Deschamps’ men looked especially ominous during a 14-0 rout of Gibraltar in November, which represented their country’s biggest ever win.

That said, Portugal were the most impressive qualifiers with 10 wins from 10 matches, during which they scored the most goals (36) and conceded the fewest (two) of any team.

Under the guidance of former Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, the Portuguese took more than three times as many shots as their opponents on average (19.0 compared with 5.9).

Who are the main attacking threats?

Record Belgium scorer Romelu Lukaku was on top form during qualifying, netting 13 goals and providing an assist in just seven appearances.

With 83 goals in 113 caps, the on-loan Chelsea striker has an international record that bears comparison with many of the greatest to have played the game.

Two of Europe’s leading marksmen – France’s Kylian Mbappe and England’s Harry Kane – were unsurprisingly among the goals again in qualifying.

Mbappe scored nine and assisted a further five in eight outings for France, while Kane netted eight and laid on two more in the same number of appearances for England.

Euro 2024 stats show three nations boast two players in the top 10 for goals and assists per 90 minutes, namely France (Mbappe and Olivier Giroud), England (Kane and Bukayo Saka), and Portugal (Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo).

How much does qualification matter?

Although the way in which a team qualifies counts for nothing when the tournament starts, results suggest that qualifying records are a good predictor of who might progress to the latter stages of Euro 2024.

Eleven of the last 14 teams to contest a European Championship final qualified for the tournament as group winners.

Of the three exceptions, two were hosts – Portugal in 2004 and France in 2016 – and one finished second in their group (Germany in 2008). However, none of these won the title, with the last seven champions having all topped their qualifying section.

Since 1996, around two-thirds of teams who won their qualifying group have gone on to reach the knockout stages, compared with less than half of sides who qualified by other means.

Is the top ranking a blessing or a curse?

Gareth Southgate has stated his ambition is for England to be ranked number one in the world.

Ahead of the final round of qualifiers in November, the England boss said: “Am I driven by being ranked number one? Yes, because ultimately you achieve that through consistency.

“Also, it sets behaviours every day on the training pitch, off the training pitch. If you are going to be the top-ranked team, there’s no room for sloppiness or casualness. That’s got to be our drive.”

Previous results suggest that FIFA’s top ranking can be both a blessing and a curse for teams bidding to win the European Championship.

While three of the last seven tournaments have been won by the top-ranked European side – 1996 (Germany), 2000 (France) and 2012 (Spain) – the other four have seen the highest seed fall in the quarter-finals.

This includes Belgium in 2016 and 2020, who entered the latter edition as the number one team in the world before suffering a dispiriting exit at the hands of eventual winners Italy.


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