25 June 2012

England at Euro 2012 (Statistics)

A handful of attacking statistics – combined totals after each's four matches – for the eight teams to qualify for the knock-out rounds seems an apt illustration of where England stands after the quarterfinals.

Congratulations, you're better than Greece and the Czech Republic! And a couple other countries in a couple of categories. Huzzah! It's no surprise to see Spain atop almost every category, except Germany have scored more goals (with far fewer shots) and Italy have taken more shots – which is explained by Italy's unfathomable 36 shots against England. Which is just four shots fewer than England took all tournament.

Unsurprisingly, England come off worst in possession, shots, and attacking third passes. And are above average in goals conceded. That's Roy Hodgson Football perfectly epitomized. And it's Hodgson Football when Hodgson Football works; Liverpool were assuredly below average in goals conceded, especially away from Anfield, during his reign.

Comparing England to their opponents in each match makes for even grimmer reading.

France and Italy were better in each of these categories in the two matches England drew – ignoring the fact England actually lost to Italy on spot kicks. England were statistically better than Sweden in all of these categories save possession; Sweden only scored twice because of two out-of-character defensive errors. And England were better than the Ukraine in just one category: goals scored.

Hodgson and his apologists would argue that doesn't really matter, that it's a results-based game, and England only lost one match because of the penalty lottery. Which has some validity. Had Young's spot kick not hit the crossbar, had one more Italian missed theirs, England could still be unbeaten. Whether they deserve to be is a different question, but you often don't get what you deserve in sport.

However, the question remains whether that, and the above statistics, is good enough for England's national team. At the moment, the sad truth may be that it is.

1 comment :

Alcatrazzledazzle said...

Being Amurkin' and therefore without a rooting interest in the Euros, I was initially not inclined to cheer for England (a) because John Terry and (b) because Roy Hodgson. But the collective likability and sizable number of LFC folk involved overpowered my initial impulse, and so I laid my loyalty at the feet of the English lads, thinking that, best-case scenario, some of the Liverpudlians would bring honor to the club and enjoy a summer of confidence-building, and worst-case scenario Roy Hodgson would look like an idiot and I can continue to mock him.

Frankly, both best-case and worst-case happened here: Carroll was strong; Gerrard was sublime; Johnson was effective everywhere he was on the pitch, and it *was* seemingly everywhere; and Henderson...well, Henderson didn't play down to the low English expectations of him.

And Hodgson still plays with his mediocre style that basically puts each game's fate into the hands of the particular soccer gods specifically tasked with mediating set pieces, penalty kicks, and the crossbar.

So I hope what is learned from the Euros is that Hodgson is a joyless and often disastrous manager; and all that self-righteous tut-tutting about the 2011 Liverpool signings being talent-less is re-decided by the English media on appeal.