Euro 2024 Data Dive: Late goals and broken records tee up dramatic finish to Group A

By Sports Desk June 23, 2024

Sunday's action at Euro 2024 saw the conclusion of Group A, with late drama ensuring a last-gasp shake up to the standings.

Germany looked sure to be on the end of a shock defeat to Switzerland until substitute Niclas Fullkrug stepped up to make it 1-1 in stoppage time and send the hosts through as group winners.

Meanwhile, Scotland crashed out of the tournament without a win after conceding the latest goal ever scored at the Euros, with Hungary keeping their hopes of knockout football alive with their 1-0 victory.

Here, we run through all the best Opta stats to emerge from the day's matches.

Switzerland 1-1 Germany: Neuer makes history, but Fullkrug grabs headlines

Having already qualified for the last 16, the hosts left it late to seal top spot in the group, needing Fullkrug to make a much-needed impact off the bench in Frankfurt.

Dan Ndoye had given Switzerland a first-half lead with his maiden international goal to become the nation's second-youngest goalscorer at the Euros (aged 23 years 242 days), but Switzerland could not hold on.

Manuel Neuer was left helpless against the forward's first-time finish on his 18th appearance at the European Championships, the most among goalkeepers at the tournament (overtaking Gianluigi Buffon – 17). At major tournaments, only Cristiano Ronaldo (45) has played in more games than the Bayern Munich stopper (37).

Julian Nagelsmann named the same starting XI for three consecutive games, the first time Germany have done so in the competition's history, though it looked like tiredness was starting to take its toll as they struggled to break down their opponents.

Toni Kroos finished the game with a passing accuracy of 92.5%, only averaging lower than that in one game for Real Madrid in 2023-24), but also equalled a record in the late drama.

Having completed 323 passes so far at Euro 2024, Kroos has made the joint-most on record (since 1980) by a player in the group stage since himself at Euro 2016 (also 323).

Germany eventually had 18 shots, with Fullkrug picking out the top corner with the final one; the striker has scored 13 goals in just 19 international appearances, while his four as a substitute at major tournaments are more than any other European player.

Despite ultimately losing out on top spot, Switzerland have now gone unbeaten in their last four games against Die Mannschaft (W1 D3), with no nation currently enjoying a longer unbeaten streak against Germany (England and Spain both have ongoing runs of four).

Scotland 0-1 Hungary: Csoboth breaks Tartan Army's hearts

Meanwhile in Stuttgart, it was Hungary celebrating a late strike to seal a 1-0 victory that ensured an early exit for Scotland as they chased what would have been a landmark win.

Kevin Csoboth cemented his place in European Championship history with his counter-attacking finish as he netted the latest goal ever scored in the tournament's history (excluding extra time), timed at 99 minutes and 32 seconds.

Despite needing a win to finish third, Scotland failed to have a single shot on target in the game. In total, the Tartan Army had just 17 shots at Euro 2024 – since the group stage was introduced in 1980, it is the joint-fewest by a national team, along with Northern Ireland at Euro 2016.

Indeed, only twice at Euro 2024 has a team failed to manage a shot on target in the first half of a match and both have been Scotland (also on MD 1 against Germany).

Scotland pushed numbers forward for their last-minute corner with the hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the Euros for the first time, but instead will leave a major tournament group stage without a win for the sixth time (1954, 1958, 1986 and 1998 World Cups and Euro 2020 and 2024).

While looking down and out after failing to win either of their opening games, Hungary finally ended a run of eight games in the competition without a win, registering their first victory since beating Austria 2-0 at Euro 2016 – this was also their first clean sheet since that win.

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    The stage is set for what could be Lionel Messi's international swansong, as Argentina face Colombia in Sunday's Copa America final in the forward's new home of Miami.

    The Hard Rock Stadium is the venue as Messi and La Albiceleste go in search of a record-breaking 16th Copa America crown, currently level with Uruguay on 15. It would also be a second in a row after they overcame old rivals Brazil in the 2021 final.

    Standing in their way, however, are arguably the most impressive team at the tournament in Colombia.

    Unbeaten in 28 games – a new national record – and led by a rejuvenated James Rodriguez, who is surely the favourite for Player of the Tournament honours, Los Cafeteros downed a much-fancied Uruguay side with 10 men in the last four and are sure to present a stern test.

    Ahead of the showpiece game, we dive into the best Opta data surrounding the two finalists. 

    What's expected?

    Argentina began the tournament as favourites, being given a 30.8% chance of securing back-to-back titles for the first time since 1993 by the Opta supercomputer.

    The supercomputer is still on their side ahead of the final, giving them a 50.9% chance of winning the match in 90 minutes.

    Colombia are assigned a 25.4% chance of victory and a 23.6% chance of taking the game to extra time (which will take place if required after being scrapped for all other knockout matches) and potentially penalties.  

    Argentina have won their last two Copa America shoot-outs, against Ecuador in this year's quarter-finals and Colombia in 2021, though they have lost three of their last four finals at the competition on spot-kicks, versus Brazil in 2004 and Chile in both 2015 and 2016.

    Overall, Lionel Scaloni's team are given a 63% chance of lifting the trophy to Colombia's 37%. 

     

    Colombia will be featuring in just their third Copa America final (also 1975 and 2001), becoming the fourth team to reach multiple finals at the competition this century, after Argentina (six), Brazil (four) and Chile (two).

    Argentina have now reached the final at six of their last eight major tournaments (World Cups and Copa America). The only exceptions were at the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Copa, losing to the eventual champions (France and Brazil) in both instances.

    Colombia have only won one of their last 12 meetings with Argentina (five draws, six defeats) – a 2-0 group-stage win at the 2019 Copa America. The teams' last draw led to Colombia losing on penalties in the 2021 Copa quarter-finals, with Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona all unsuccessful from 12 yards.

    The teams have met on 15 previous occasions in the Copa America, with Argentina recording seven wins to Colombia's three and the remaining five being drawn.

    Fitting farewell for the GOAT?

    Sunday's final could very well be the end of an era, with arguably the greatest footballer of all time contemplating international retirement after the match.

    While there are plenty stateside who are desperate to see Messi continue his glittering Argentina career until the 2026 World Cup, the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner said this week he is fighting his "last battles" on the international stage.

    Having led Argentina to glory at the 2021 Copa and the Qatar World Cup, Messi could go out on a high by inspiring his country to three straight major tournament successes, a feat they only previously achieved by winning three consecutive Copas in 1945, 1946 and 1947, with the World Cup not held during that time.

    It took him a while, but Messi finally got up and running at this year's Copa with a goal in Tuesday's 2-0 semi-final victory over Canada, converting his 12th shot of the tournament.

     

    He has now scored at six different editions of the Copa America, matching the record set by Zizinho all the way back in 1957. Messi has netted at the 2007, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 2024 editions, only failing to get on the scoresheet in 2011.

    His semi-final strike came 17 years and one day after his first Copa America goal, versus Peru in 2007. That gap is the longest between goals for a single player in the tournament's history, breaking another record previously held by Zizinho (15 years and 52 days between 1942 and 1957).

    Another trophy on Sunday would enable him to end what had previously been a disappointing Argentina career with a perfect run of three tournament triumphs.

    There is also the small matter of another international trophy pulling him clear of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who led Portugal to glory at Euro 2016 and in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League but now looks unlikely to add to that collection. 

    Cafeteros the Copa's best?

    Argentina may have star quality unmatched by any of their South American rivals, but they were made to work for knockout successes against Ecuador and Canada. Many would argue they have not been the tournament's outstanding team.

    That honour may go to Colombia, who topped Group D ahead of Brazil before dumping out Uruguay – considered second-favourites for the trophy by some – in the semi-finals.

    Nestor Lorenzo's team did not even require a full complement to overcome La Celeste, standing firm after Daniel Munoz's first-half red card as Jefferson Lerma's earlier header proved decisive. 

    Lerma's goal was Colombia's fifth to come via a header at this tournament, the most by a team at a single edition since Argentina netted six times via that route in 1991, when they lifted the trophy.

    Colombia's aerial prowess has been another string to their bow at a tournament where they have been extremely efficient in attack, scoring a competition-high 12 goals from 8.49 expected goals (xG), a tally that puts them second to Argentina (11.1). Colombia rank just sixth for touches in the penalty area (104) but third for shots from inside the box (59).

    Only conceding twice, Lorenzo's side have also been solid at the back – a recipe for tournament success. 

     

    Per game, they have averaged a tournament-low 0.51 expected goals against (xGA), as well as 9.6 shots faced (the third-best figure) and 2.2 shots on target faced (second-best). 

    That solid backline has given James and Luis Diaz the platform from which to make things happen, with the duo ranking third and fourth, respectively, for expected assists (xA) among all players at the competition. 

    Miserly at the back and with two of the competition's most creative players in attack, Colombia will back themselves to spoil Messi's Miami party.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Argentina – Angel Di Maria

    Di Maria made his 27th Copa America appearance in the last four, becoming Argentina's second-most capped player in the competition, behind Messi (38 matches).

    The former Real Madrid wideman will play his final international match on Sunday, and he could go out with a bang, having earned a reputation as a big-game player.

    Di Maria, who has 31 goals in 144 games for La Albiceleste overall, scored the winner in the 2021 Copa America final versus Brazil and also got on the scoresheet in the 2022 World Cup showpiece game against France.

    Only James (17), Nicolas de la Cruz (14) and Messi (13) have bettered his nine chances created at this tournament, while he also ranks sixth for xA (1.01) and only Messi has matched his tally of four chance-creating carries. 

     

    Colombia – James Rodriguez

    Colombia captain James has looked a player reborn at this tournament, recording six assists, with the most recent teeing up Lerma's semi-final winner versus Uruguay.

    That meant he surpassed Messi (five in 2021) for the most assists at a single edition of the Copa America since this data began being recorded by Opta in 2011.

    A remarkable 12 of his 17 chances created at this tournament have come from set-pieces, and with a cagey affair potentially in store, his dead-ball prowess could prove decisive.

    Five of Colombia's 12 goals have come from corners or indirect free-kicks, with James' deliveries helping them surpass their previous best goalscoring return at a Copa America (11 in both 1975 and 2001).

     

  • Koeman confident ahead of England semi-final despite travel delays Koeman confident ahead of England semi-final despite travel delays

    Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman insisted that travel delays experienced by his team will not affect them ahead of their Euro 2024 semi-final with England on Tuesday.

    The Netherlands were due to travel from their tournament training base in Wolfsburg to Dortmund, but those plans were disrupted by a blockage on the route that caused their service to be cancelled.

    Instead, Koeman and his squad flew to Dortmund, arriving at their hotel on Tuesday evening. 

    "It was not a problem, we had a good rest this afternoon, we were on the plane for just 30 minutes, arrived at our hotel and we can have a good rest tonight,” Koeman said in an interview with UEFA after his scheduled pre-match press conference had to be cancelled because of the delay.

    This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides at a major tournament, with England and the Netherlands both winning once. 

    England have triumphed just once in their last nine meetings with the Netherlands in all competitions, but Koeman is expecting a tough encounter against the Three Lions. 

    “We know that there is really not much difference between the two teams, it’s really 50-50 in my opinion,” Koeman said. “But we will need the perfect game to win.

    “We know they have a lot of individual qualities but both teams are really strong and it will be a good fight,” he predicted.

    The Netherlands came from a goal behind to secure their place in the semi-finals of the competition, beating Turkiye 2-1 in Berlin last Saturday. 

    England, meanwhile, needed penalties to edge past Switzerland, something Koeman believes could be an advantage ahead of kick-off. 

    “England had to play extra time in their last game (against Switzerland) so maybe that could be a difference in the latter stages of the match," Koeman said.

    "We are sharp, we are focused and we are looking forward to playing a good match against them."

  • Euro 2024 Data Dive: Spain hand baton to Yamal, Olmo emulates Roja great Euro 2024 Data Dive: Spain hand baton to Yamal, Olmo emulates Roja great

    Once the dominant force in Europe, Spain reclaimed their place among the elite of international football on Tuesday. 

    La Roja reached their first major tournament final since Euro 2012 following a 2-1 victory over France in Munich. 

    After several dull knockout games meandered their way to extra time and penalties, a frenetic 25 minutes had eyes across the world glued to their screens for this one.

    With Spain the first team to book their place in Sunday's final, we take a deep dive into the best Opta statistics from a memorable encounter.

    Spain 2-1 France: Roja baton passed down to Yamal

    In a battle between the tournament's most potent strike force and best defence, it would be La Roja's crop of attacking talent that emerged victorious. 

    Attention was fixated on the talented feet of youngster Yamal, and his goal was worthy of winning any semi-final, let alone levelling it. 

    Yamal twisted and turned before curling a fine effort beyond the grasp of Mike Maignan and in off the post, announcing football's newest superstar on the big stage. 

    And at the age of 16 years and 362 days, the Barcelona forward became the youngest goalscorer at a major tournament (World Cup/Euros), a record previously held by Brazil’s Pele against Wales at the 1958 World Cup (17 years, 239 days). 

    While Yamal is only beginning his footballing journey, history was also made by one of the senior players in the Roja dressing room. 

    Despite enduring a difficult evening against Kylian Mbappe, Spain's Jesus Navas will leave Germany with a record to his name, and possibly the Henri Delaunay Cup. 

    At 38 years and 231 days, Navas became the oldest ever outfield player to appear in a semi-final at a major international tournament. 

    While much of the focus will centre around the mercurial talents of Yamal, midfielder Dani Olmo once again proved his worth to Luis de la Fuente's side. 

    Olmo was on target again for Spain, doing brilliantly to manoeuvre space inside the France penalty area before striking the ball home for what proved to be the winner. 

    The RB Leipzig midfielder became the first Spanish player to score in three successive games at the European Championship finals, while his five goal involvements at Euro 2024 (three goals, two assists) are the most by a Spaniard at a major tournament since David Silva at Euro 2012 (two goals, three assists). 

    Olmo also had the joint-most touches in the opposition box along with Fabian Ruiz (three), also showing his defensive influence by winning four of his six duels, a total only bettered by Yamal and Alvaro Morata (both six). 

    Spain's triumph also saw them become the first team to win six matches at a single edition of the Euros, while including World Cups, only Brazil in 2002 have won more games at a major international tournament (seven). 

    For France, however, their stuttering run in Germany finally came to an end. 

    It is only the second time Les Bleus have taken the lead and lost a game at the European Championships, having last done so at Euro 2000, in a 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands in the group stages. 

    Ranal Kolo Muani's eighth-minute strike threatened to tell a different story, but it wasn't meant to be for Didier Deschamps' side. 

    It was Kolo Muani's fifth goal in his last five starts for France in all competitions (four goals, one assist). 

    The Paris Saint-Germain forward also became just the third player to score for France in the semi-finals of both the World Cup and Euros, after Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane.

    The defeat also marked the first time Les Bleus have been eliminated at the semi-final stage of a major tournament since Euro 1996, with only Germany (eight) going out of major tournaments at the semi-final stage more often among European sides than France (six).  

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