Group D was the last of the groups to be settled at Euro 2012 and I have now had time to finalise the Scoring Chance numbers that I have been collating.
Whilst I have looked at each of Spain's individual games, to look at all of the matches within a specific was an interesting exercise to conduct. The sample size is of course extremely small but there were definite patterns that emerged on a game by game basis.
What is the ‘Scoring Chance Index' (or ‘SCI')? It is 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.
Firstly, the team totals. The breakdown and total scoring chances that each team had during the group stage were as follows:
England - 3-11 (v France), 8-8 (v Sweden) and 6-6 (v Ukraine): Total 17-25.
France - 11-3 (v England), 13-3 (v Ukraine) and 9-8 (v Sweden): Total 33-14.
Sweden - 8-8 (v Ukraine), 6-6 (v England) and 8-9 (v France): Total 22-23.
Ukraine - 8-8 (v Sweden), 3-13 (v France) and 6-6 (v England): Total 17-27.
A few observations:
- What is interesting here is that England had a net total of -8 in terms of scoring chances yet won the group. The were of course out-chanced heavily in the game against France, whilst only tied in their games against Sweden and Ukraine. This points to two things: an excellent conversion rate and also the ability to defend the scoring chances that are conceded.
- France meanwhile heavily out-chanced both England and Ukraine, conceding only three scoring chances in each game. This was likely a result of their attacking play dominating the games but when Sweden attacked them to the degree they did in the second half of their game (when scoring chances ended up being almost equal) France's defence (thought to be a weak link) couldn't prevent Sweden from converting.
- The games involving England, Sweden and Ukraine were all tied; neither country having an advantage yet England's superior conversion rate and defensive ability (or at least ability to defend scoring chances) saw them win both game against Sweden and Ukraine.
And now onto the individual numbers with the totals for each of the four Group D sides (game by game breakdowns can be found here). Click the images to enlarge them:
- England's lack of offensive threat is highlighted in the numbers that show Wayne Rooney as the fourth-highest player despite featuring in only the final game. Steven Gerrard's excellent delivery from the right hand side has been telling this tournament and he has a score of +5, second only to Joe Hart with +12. Ashley Cole scored highly in the SCI I did for the Champions League final and his contribution in the final third (as well as his defensive play) was important and the numbers do show that England's defenders scored highly, but to exercise a degree of caution, also scored amongst the highest in terms of minus marks.
- As you would expect, France's attacking trio of Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri dominated with Benzema and Ribery in particularly being involved in almost half of France's scoring chances. Nasri too started brightly against England but faded in the last game (where he scored just +1). Jeremy Menez may have only seen limited action but he scored highly in terms of chances per 90 minutes and chances per 100 touches; a greater role for him perhaps against Spain?
- The win against France in the final game showed a glimpse of what might have been for Sweden, who never recovered from the opening game defeat to Ukraine. Zlatan Ibrahimovic led the way for them, being involved in ten chances, whilst both Seb Larsson and Kim Kallstrom were consistent throughout and both finished +7. Olaf Mellberg ranked as the highest scoring defender in the group with a +5 rating; the majority of his score from an attacking sense too, whilst Rosenberg also fared well in limited opportunity.
- Ukraine were perhaps the biggest disappointment. Much was expected as co-hosts and victory in their opening game suggested a chance of progression but subsequent defeats to France and England ended their hopes. In many ways, their scoring chance table is similar to England's in that the highest ranked outfield players - Yarmolenko, Knoplyanka and Shevchenko - had a +5 rating; their poor conversion rate in the final two games hampering their chances.
How about a 'Team of the Group'? Based upon a (attacking) formation of 4-3-3 (or a fluid 4-5-1 to give me some licence with this) the numbers give us the following team: Hart; Debuchy; Mellberg; M Olsson; Cole; Larsson; Nasri; Kallstrom; Ribery; Benzema; Ibrahimovic.