First off, please take this entire post as it is meant to be, as some fun information. I’m not telling you that x player is the worst ever (except Ronaldo, does anyone actually LIKE him?) or that y team is going to win the tournament. I am simply saying “oh hey, this is a neat way to look at what’s happened so far in the Euros”. With all the seriousness in the world right now, it’s probably ok for you to relax and have a little fun for a minute. After a short break you’ll be fully re-charged to jump back on twitter and tell everyone how dumb they are for their opinions. OK?
I wanted to get some experience with Tableau so I took the shots for, shots against, goals for, and goals against from WhoScored.com (it’s Opta’s data) and plugged it into my Tableau Public profile.
On the offensive end, you can divide the grid below into four squares: prolific shooters/good finishers (upper right), prolific shooters/poor finishers (upper left), meager shooters/poor finishers (lower left), meager shooters/good finishers (lower right).
Wales has been extremely efficient thus far. The Welsh have scored 6 goals off less than 40 shots. Their opposite is Portugal, who have been extremely wasteful, scoring just 4 off 70.
Hungary and Iceland have also produced some pretty “outside the band” goalscoring while Germany and England have created a lot of shots but found conversion difficult. This passes the “eye test” as England, Portugal and Germany are all playing without a truly dominant goal scorer.*
On the left side of that chart are Sweden and Ukraine who both managed to score 0 goals. Let us all take a moment to laugh at Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Spain and Croatia, along with France, are just about where we would expect them to be in terms of goals scored on shots taken. Spain is easily explained; they play a lot like Arsenal in that they have taken the fewest shots from outside the box of any of the big teams, they have created the most shots in the six yard box (5) of any of the teams in the tournament, and as a result Morata scored 2 tap ins.
This is where you ask me if Morata would be a good buy for Arsenal and I say “well, Arsenal did create more shots in the 6 yard box than any other team in England (it’s actually a feature of Arsene Wenger’s playing style) and if Morata can keep scoring those goals at a 66% rate (which is what Morata has done so far in Euro 2016 but which is something I absolutely cannot predict he will do going forward), then yeah, he’ll be great (provided that Arsenal stump up whatever ludicrous fee Real Madrid ask for, that he wants to come to Arsenal, that he doesn’t get injured, that fans don’t scream obscenities at him constantly when he makes mistakes, and that he continues in this rich vein of form).”
Defensively the Euros also featured four “types”: porous defense/few saves (upper right), porous defense/lots of saves (upper left), tight defense/lots of saves (lower left), and tight defense/few saves (lower right).
Norn Iron and Iceland both stand out immediately. Both teams progressed despite allowing an average of over 5 shots on target per game. Iceland, in particular, allowed the same number of shots on target as Russia but half the goals.
This difference between Iceland and Russland highlights the problem with stats in tournament play and even to an extent keeper stats in general. The difference between Halldorsson for Iceland and Akinfeev for Russia was three saves: Halldorsson made them, Akinfeev did not. Three events. Three events which make you a hero or a goat. Three saves gets you into the next round.
In the Great Defending/Great Stopping quadrant you have Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Spain, and France. France have allowed the fewest shots on goal but Germany and Poland have allowed the fewest goals.
Czech Republic crashed out of Euro 2016 despite some Rosicky heroics because they simply allowed too many goals. Defensively, they were right in the middle with 12 shots on target allowed but Cech allowed 5 goals which is up at the Ukraine/Russia level in terms of shot stopping… but without having faced nearly as many shots on target.
In terms of overall quality there aren’t many surprises. The big teams are doing exactly what you’d expect: creating a lot on offense and dominating on defense. The surprises are Wales and Croatia. Croatia created a lot of chances and scored a lot. This is excellent news for their fans because it indicates an overall quality to the team going forward. They also conceded fewer than average shots on target, another good indicator.
Wales had a similar defensive record which is great but their offensive record should give pause. They scored 6 goals on 38 shots, which is like Hungary in that I don’t know if that’s sustainable. Of course, I also said the same thing about Leicester City and look how that turned out. Wales could be a surprise in this tournament if they can keep scoring at a high rate.
If I do a cheap and dirty expected goals metric for attack and then balance that with an equally laughable metric of ranking defense by shots allowed on target and goals conceded I can create a 16 team hierarchy. My ranking based on the stats for three games (which is only slightly less ridiculous than ranking teams based on gut which is what pundits do all the time so why shouldn’t I?) looks like this:
- Norn Iron
I know that Italy down with Slovakia looks funny but their attack has been dirt poor and relies on high conversion rates. Now, maybe high conversion rates are to be expected for counter attacking teams but I’m not sure about that. Wales is the same. They scored 6 goals but they took so few shots and allowed so many that it looks like their game is predicated on finishing better than the opposition rather than controlling shot chances for and against. Finishing, as we all know, is less predictable than chance creation. Belgium is probably another surprise but they take too many shots from distance and they would do better to work the ball in deep where Lukaku’s more dangerous (all strikers are); this is essentially what Spain and Arsenal do in order to overcome mediocrity.
*You realize I’m being sarcastic, right?