Euro 2012: France v England Scoring Chance Index

England kicked off their Euro 2012 campaign yesterday with what could be a valuable point against France, with City's Joleon Lescott and Samir Nasri scoring the goals in a 1-1 draw.

There was not a huge element of surprise to the game with England setting up with a tight midfield and defence and seemingly happy to cede territory (and the mjaority of possession) to their opponents and France certainly dominated for the most part in terms of the 'raw' numbers. Indeed, they show that France outshot England 21-7 during the course of the game.

As with all England games I took a look the Scoring Chance Index numbers. For those that follow the blog regularly you will be familiar with what we here have coined ‘Scoring Chance Index' (or ‘SCI'): essentially a model we have developed to try and better understand and measure scoring chances in football. A full breakdown of SCI can be found at this introductory post.

From the shot totals, my analysis showed that France created 11 scoring chances whilst England managed just three (by my definitions of what constitutes a scoring chance), with the individual numbers as follows (click the images to enlarge):

Englandfrance_sci_medium
Franceengland_sci_medium

A few notes and observations from the numbers:

  • Much like with Spain's performance against Italy, France's offensive threat centred around a trio: Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri who all posted high numbers.
  • As well as Joe Hart's defensive numbers, England also scored defensive + marks from Steven Gerrard and Danny Welbeck who made crucial blocks on goal bound shots. (Interestingly, England blocked shots well all evening - the majority of these though outside of the box highlighting their disciplined defensive play in restricting France in this area).
  • England's three scoring chances did not result in a defensive + mark for France - Milner's shot off target, Lescott's mistimed header and of course the goal. This indicates a lack of real threat from England in terms of 'making the defence work' and it was perhaps telling that the goal resulted from a set play.
  • Unlike in the Spain v Italy game, last night I scored two minus defensive marks: for Aliou Diarra on England's goal and Joleon Lescott who allowed space for Franck Ribery to force Joe Hart into a save.

Whilst England will be pleased with the point (in what is arguably their toughest game of the group) there are two concerns. Firstly, that although the perception is they were disciplined in defence they still conceded eleven scoring chances - this cannot be sustained if they hope to progress to the knockout stages. Whilst they were compact and obdurate in the central areas outside the penalty area (witness the number of blocked shots) France still managed to get between the central and full back pairs, creating their chances mainly coming in from out wide with Nasri and Ribery. Secondly - and in what may be their achilees heel - was their lack from an offensive standpoint with their overall scores along the lines of what Manchester City's opponents were scoring during the Premier League run in when there defence was so tight and allowed them to rack up the wins.

Plenty for Roy Hodgson to ponder.

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