Spectators treated by high-scoring Euros
Spectators at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine have been spoilt during the tournament’s group phase, which boasted several memorable matches and not a single goalless draw.
With 60 goals scored in 24 matches at an average rate of 2.5 per game, Euro 2012 has witnessed more goals per game than both Euro 2004 and Euro 2008 (2.48) and is in line to be the most prolific tournament since Euro 2000 (2.74).
The 2000 tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands was widely seen as a high watermark in the recent history of European football, and the current competition could be set to follow suit.
For the most part, teams have sought to play on the front foot, which has produced games such as Portugal’s last-gasp 3-2 defeat of Denmark and England’s stirring 3-2 success over Sweden.
Four of the teams that won their opening matches − Russia, Denmark, Croatia and Ukraine − were all eliminated
Spain, the holders and reigning world champions, have yet to hit top gear at the European Championship, but they boasted the most prolific attack and the meanest defence in the group phase, with six goals scored and only one conceded.
Group B winners Germany were the only team to progress with a perfect record following three wins over Portugal, the Nether-lands and Denmark, while Ireland limped out of Group C with a record that read: played three, lost three, scored one, conceded nine.
A notable peculiarity of the first round was that four of the teams who won their opening matches – Russia, Denmark, Croatia and Ukraine – were all eliminated from the tournament.
Hopes are now high that the competition will continue in a similar vein, but the 2006 World Cup provides a cautionary tale.
A relatively high-scoring group phase at the tournament in Germany yielded 117 goals at a rate of 2.44 per game, only for the teams to calm down in the knockout rounds, when the average goals-per-game ratio fell to 1.88.