Euro 2020 data dive: Italy set competition record as Spain win on penalties again

By Sports Desk July 02, 2021

After two engrossing games on Friday, we have our first Euro 2020 semi-finalists.

Spain ended a nine-year wait for a place in the final four of a major tournament, but they had to do it the hard way once again, with penalties needed to defeat Switzerland after a draw in Saint Petersburg.

Then came arguably the finest match of the tournament to date, Italy prevailing against Belgium to set a new record for consecutive wins in this competition and continue their remarkable form under Roberto Mancini.

Here are some of the key data takeaways from day one of the quarter-finals...

 

Switzerland 1-1 Spain (aet, 1-3 pens): Luis Enrique's men are the Euros shoot-out kings

Switzerland's previous three European Championship knockout games had gone to penalties (against Poland in 2016 and France this year), so perhaps we should have expected another shoot-out here.

Things certainly looked to be under Spain's control when Denis Zakaria, in for the suspended Granit Xhaka, scored the 10th own goal of Euro 2020 – that's more than were seen in the previous 15 championships combined (nine). Three of those have now gone in Spain's favour: they got two against Slovakia in the group stage.

Xherdan Shaqiri steered in Remo Freuler's pass to become his country's leading Euros goalscorer with four – he has as many goals (three) in his most recent three games as he did in his previous 31 – as Switzerland responded well in the second half. Then came a crucial moment: a heavy challenge from Freuler, and a red card flashed his way. It made the Atalanta midfielder the sixth person to be sent off at these finals and Switzerland only the third side in the competition's history to score an own goal and have a player dismissed in the same game, after Poland (against Slovakia this year) and Czechoslovakia against the Netherlands in 1976.

Still, Switzerland stood firm. Yann Sommer produced 10 saves, the most by a goalkeeper in a knockout match who did not suffer defeat during normal or extra time since Ivo Viktor for Czechoslovakia, again in 1976. Spain fired in 28 shots in total, with substitutes Dani Olmo and Gerard Moreno attempting six each. They have struck the most shots of anyone at these finals without scoring (Olmo 16, Gerard 15).

Yet Sommer's heroics were not enough in the shoot-out, Ruben Vargas' miss allowing Mikel Oyarzabal to ensure Spain progressed from penalties in a Euros match for the fourth time, more than any other nation. One of those came against Italy in 2008, and another against Portugal in 2012 – each time, La Roja went on to lift the trophy...


 

Belgium 1-2 Italy: Azzurri clinch Euros record against favourite foes

Italy stretched their record unbeaten run to 32 matches and 13 consecutive victories to see off Belgium and reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the 12th time, a tally only bettered among European sides by Germany (20).

Perhaps more impressively, Italy have now won each of their past 15 games at the Euros (including qualifying), which is a competition record. Had Belgium claimed victory, they would have reached that tally themselves.

Roberto Martinez's side might be the top-ranked in the world, but they have now faced the Azzurri five times at the Euros and World Cup without winning, more than they have against any other side. They may have feared this result was coming.

Nicolo Barella opened the scoring with his sixth goal in 27 international games – only one fewer than he has managed in his past 116 club matches – before Lorenzo Insigne swept home a quite stunning second. Romelu Lukaku got a goal back after the impressive Jeremy Doku had become the first teenager to win a Euros spot-kick since Wayne Rooney in 2004.

Lukaku had a couple of chances for another in the second half, but he could not quite muster what would have been a 23rd goal in his most recent 19 competitive internationals, as Roberto Mancini celebrated becoming just the second coach in Euros history to win each of his first five games in the finals after Michel Hidalgo in 1984.

Italy's resolute defending in the second half was built on the partnership of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, whose guile helped the Azzurri over the line. This was something of a showcase for experienced stoppers: the five starting centre-backs – Chiellini (36), Bonucci (34), Thomas Vermaelen (35), Jan Vertonghen (34) and Toby Alderweireld (32) – averaged an age of 34 years and 234 days.

 

Related items

  • Ferrari must consolidate on Red Bull's home turf as F1 heads to Austria Ferrari must consolidate on Red Bull's home turf as F1 heads to Austria

    After recent issues with reliability putting a dent in their championship hopes, Ferrari were able to marginally recover at the British Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz's maiden Formula One race win.

    It was a bittersweet Sunday for the Scuderia at Silverstone, however, with tactics scuppering a potential one-two finish with Charles Leclerc, who fell away to finish fourth on older hard tyres following a late safety car.

    Ferrari capitalised to some extent, but were not able to take full advantage of Max Verstappen's damaged floor putting him out of contention for the race win.

    Now heading into Red Bull's home race at the Austrian Grand Prix, the championship challengers simply must recover more ground if they are to mount a real threat in the standings.

    Reigning world champion Verstappen has won the last two races and claimed the last two pole positions at Spielberg, however, making a repeat of Sunday's run to the chequered flag for Ferrari unlikely.

    Red Bull have won three of the past four Austrian GPs, with Verstappen taking all three for the team.

    The Red Bull Ring has been a happy hunting ground for the 24-year-old, reaching the podium six times, with two fastest laps as well as his four wins and two pole positions, with all being the most out of any circuit in his career.

    A Ferrari win would prove an important historical moment for the team, though, as well as what it means in context of this season.

    The Scuderia need only 23 points to be the first team in F1 to reach 9,000 points, while both they and Mercedes are one win away from equalling McLaren's record six wins in Austria.

    Meanwhile, they are one clearout of the front row away from surpassing Mercedes for the most one-two qualifying finishes in F1, with both on 82.

    Can Sainz push on after breaking through?

    Carlos Sainz finally broke through at Silverstone, even declining team orders to collect the race win upon the resumption after the safety car.

    Despite a tricky start to the season, Sainz has slowly developed confidence in the car, with six podiums this season

    One more would see him surpass his total over the previous seven seasons in F1, and could be the first Spaniard since Fernando Alonso in 2010 to record back-to-back wins.

    Austria does not follow 'El Plan'

    Alonso's longevity and focus has been nothing short of extraordinary since returning to F1, but Austria has not been the most forthcoming of places for him.

    Despite encouraging recent form, including a second place in qualifying in Canada and a fifth-place finish at Silverstone, the 40-year-old will be looking to change that.

    The two-time world champion has appeared nine times at Spielberg, the circuit with his lowest aggregate of race wins, pole positions, fastest laps and podiums in his career.

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 181
    2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 147
    3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 138
    4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 127
    5. George Russell (Mercedes) 111

    Constructors

    1. Red Bull 328
    2. Ferrari 265
    3. Mercedes 204
    4. McLaren 73
    5. Alpine 67

  • Reggae Girl shot stopper Spencer pleased with strong all-round team performance in win over Mexico Reggae Girl shot stopper Spencer pleased with strong all-round team performance in win over Mexico

    Jamaica Reggae Girlz goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer expressed satisfaction with the strength of the team’s overall performance in an opening day win over hosts Mexico in the Concacaf Women's Championship.

    Mainstay forward Khadijah Shaw got the all-important goal in the 8th minute, but Spencer made an equally telling impact between the sticks for the team.  The goalkeeper proved to be an assured presence in controlling the area and also proved highly effective with her distribution ability.

    In addition, the custodian’s acrobatic save from Mexico’s Carolina Jaramillo not only kept the Jamaicans in front but might be one of the best of the tournament so far.

    “It was all about the team yesterday.  I think from front to back and obviously, the subs also came on and made a big impact in the game. So, yesterday was a real team performance,” Spencer said.

    “I thought the game was good it was a really good team performance.  Scoring early on and to have the lead so long was certainly a big one for us,” she added.

    The appearance was Spencer’s fifth for the national team.  The Jamaicans will next be in action against the United States on Thursday.

  • Dodgers All-Star Chris Taylor sidelined indefinitely with foot fracture Dodgers All-Star Chris Taylor sidelined indefinitely with foot fracture

    Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor has revealed he will be sidelined indefinitely due to a left foot fracture.

    The 2021 All-Star underwent scans which revealed the fracture after he exited Monday's 5-3 win over the Colorado Rapids in the sixth inning with left ankle swelling.

    The 31-year-old 2020 World Series champion said it was a "small fracture" but didn’t know the timeframe for recovery and return to play.

    "We really haven't even gotten to that point where we discussed a timeframe yet," Taylor told Spectrum SportsNet LA.

    "Right now we're taking it step by step and I don't think we've put an exact date on when a possible return will be."

    Taylor, who signed a four-year contract worth $60 million in December, is hitting at .237 with six home runs and 27 RBIs this season.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.