Euro 2024 trumps 2020 for speed and late drama
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Euro 2024 trumps 2020 for speed and late drama

But goals are down, and previous tournament’s bookings tally has already been passed

The ball hits the back of the Denmark net after an own-goal before it was disallowed because Serbia’s Luka Jovic was offside, in their Group D match in Munich on Monday. (Photo: Reuters)
The ball hits the back of the Denmark net after an own-goal before it was disallowed because Serbia’s Luka Jovic was offside, in their Group D match in Munich on Monday. (Photo: Reuters)

DUESSELDORF, Germany - The European Championship knockout stage is about to start but the tournament has already surpassed a few Euro 2020 benchmarks, with faster players and double the stoppage-time goals, while a blitz of bookings has set the stage for a feisty finale.

Euro 2024 looks on course to beat the 18 goals scored from outside the area in Euro 2020 with 14 so far, but the tournament’s top marksmen are proving less proactive and productive, with fewer goals and a decline in their goal attempts.

The successful long-range efforts of Euro 2024 are already more than the whole of the 2022 World Cup, and the 14 counted so far does not include Turkey’s howler of an own-goal against Portugal, when Samet Akaydin’s casual backpass rolled comically past his own goalkeeper.

Among the most standout statistics has been the 10 stoppage-time goals in the group stage, double the number over the entirety of Euro 2020 and beating the record of nine over the course of the 2016 contest.

The drama is not all at the back end of matches, with 30 goals scored inside the first half-hour of Euro 2024 games, passing the 29 seen over the course of the 51 matches of Euro 2020.

Euro 2024 is already an ill-disciplined affair compared to last time, with 161 yellow cards shown so far, surpassing the 151 during the whole of Euro 2020, when there were 85 shown in the first round.

A big contributor was Wednesday’s tense Group F encounter between the Czech Republic and Turkey, when a record 18 yellows were brandished, as well as two reds.

Speedy start

Players are getting quicker too, with Slovenia’s Benjamin Sesko clocking a top speed of 35.9 kph (22.3 mph), fastest among the 45 players who, according to the UEFA numbers, eclipsed the 33.8 kph reached by both Hungary’s Loic Nego and Italian Leonardo Spinazzola in Euro 2020.

And they are putting in the distance. Five players in Germany have beaten the 36km covered by Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin in the group stage of Euro 2020, with Albania’s Ylber Ramadani running 37.5km at an average 12.3 km per match.

But the rate of goal scoring has slowed since last time, with 81 in the group stage, down from 94 in Euro 2020.

Germany’s eight goals so far equals that of the Netherlands in the pool stage of Euro 2020, although second-placed Austria’s six trails the seven scored by three countries the last time around.

The tournament’s top scorers are lagging those of Euro 2020, with leader Georges Mikautadze of Georgia, the only player with more than two to his name, two shy of the five netted by Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo in round one last time, when five other players also scored three times.

Ronaldo has yet to find the net in Germany but he is trying, having matched the 12 group-stage goal attempts of Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in Euro 2020.

Ronaldo’s peers have been less productive, however, with five other players recording 10 attempts on goal, compared to nine players in 2020.

Blunder goals

England might have underwhelmed so far in Germany but there is hope for a change in fortune based on their previous start, with their two goals equalling their record of winning a group with the fewest goals, which was set in Euro 2020 on the way to reaching the final.

One record no one will be trying to beat is for own goals, with 11 seen during Euro 2020. The current contest is not far off the pace, with seven, one short of the group stage of Euro 2020.

According to Opta data, the own goals of the past two Euros account for two-thirds of all the ones in European Championship history.

When it comes to possession Germany and Portugal have been dominating, both at 64.3% after the group phase.

That compares to Euro 2020 when Spain won only one game in their group but had 68.7% of possession. They have slipped to seventh place this time at 54% — but won all three matches.

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