By Alistair Bain (@allybain)
The opening round of matches have taken place at Euro 96, and now that we have compiled our data set we can take a closer look at how each team performed statistically.
Within this graph we have compiled each teams total number of attacks on goal and placed them alongside their expected goals value. On a surface level this allows us to see which teams are creating lots of shooting opportunities and who is not shooting enough, but we can weight these stats with the overall value therefore breaking down which teams value quality over quantity.
Turkey would rank bottom in our table of total shots in round one, and to compound this would also finish bottom in expected goals (xG) also.
If we go back to the shot locations map we can immediately see that they didnt hit a single shot on target in the game, which naturally explains their low xG rating, but what we can also see is that they simply didn’t penetrate Croatia’s box with enough attacking opportunities. The relied on set plays and speculative efforts from distance, and will need to support target striker Hakan Sukur much more effectively if they are to impact the next match.
What’s interesting about the next two lowest attackers is the divide in xG. Both Scotland and Croatia would create 8 attacks in their opening games (versus Turkey and Holland respectively), but the major difference being that Croatia would create 4 big chances (Opta definition: A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one on one scenario or from very close range when the ball has a clear path to goal) where as Scotland wouldn’t create any.
Another interesting statistical find was Germany’s performance, who were by no means poor in their attack play, but for a team who would win in such resounding fashion it shows us that there is still room for improvement as to their attacking efficiency.
The highest attackers overall were Holland who’s opening day draw with Scotland appeared to many as a complete injustice. What I like about this form of analysis is that it provides another layer of context, as it can take what we see with our eyes during the game and rationalize it to remove any biases or narratives that may have been drawn.
While Holland were no doubt absolutely relentless in their pursuit of the win, we can see that even with 2.15 xG and 21 shots on goal, only 3 would actually test the goalkeeper. Remarkably Scotland, who had almost two thirds less attacking opportunities would hit more shots on target. Where the balancing act comes now is the amount of blocked shots in the game, Scotland were simply excellent in defence and were able to negate much of Hollands attack play. This doesnt make Hollands play poor, but it again adds another layer of context when analyzing the match after the fact.
Perhaps the most interesting story of the round is Switzerland, who’s data shows us they would reach a similar xG to Holland but from a lot less attacks.
Here we can see their xG timeline from the match against England, which at half time you’d have been forgiven for thinking the host nation would see out the game comfortable victors. In a 55 minute period they would double their amount of attacks and treble their xG, all the while getting themselves a point from a match many thought they’d lose. Of course the penalty factors heavily into their xG value and probability of scoring a goal, but what cannot be forgotten is how well they reacted to an England 1st half onslaught, something that would have affected many other teams mentality.
On Target Analysis
Finally lets take a look at the attacking performance if we only consider attacks on target and their respective xG rating.
England and Italy find themselves out in front with the most attacks on target, but again we see that Switzerland show up well in terms of their creation of attacks on target and subsequent xG value. Bulgaria are weighted slightly higher due to their penalty goal, but none the less this will be an interesting feature to continue to look at as we progress through the rounds.