Euro 2016: The story so far

Ten days in and so far Romania are the only team that are confirmed not to have made it to the knockout phase of Euro 2016. Armando Sadiku’s historic winner for Albania ensuring Anghel Iordenescu’s side booked an early flight home.

Other than that, nothing is certain at this tournament of surprises – the new best third-placed qualifying format ensuring teams such as Turkey and Ukraine, who have lost both games, could still qualify for the knockout phase. But what is abundantly evident so far is that the supposedly weakest nations are not so weak after all, and any win is hard fought, often being achieved late in the game. Other than France, only Spain and Italy have secured progress to date, but teams with four points, such as England, Germany, Poland, Croatia and Hungary, are also more or less certain of making it to the Last 16. As far as the final in Paris is concerned, no team has truly laid down a marker of intent with two outstanding performances, but certainly hosts France, holders Spain, World Champions Germany and perennial challengers Italy all look safe bets for the latter stages.

Stars so far

Hosts France have been buoyed by the form, and not to mention spectacular goals, of West Ham forward Dimitri Payet, who has surely been one of the stars of the tournament so far. Wales’ Gareth Bale has become only the second player to score two direct free-kicks at the same Finals (achieved in only two matches) and a host of underdogs have unearthed heroes with telling contributions – Albania’s Sadiku, and Wales’ Hal Robson-Kanu spring immediately to mind. With Northern Ireland and Hungary also claiming famous victories, and only Spain and Belgium scoring three times in a single match thus far, closely fought games are order of the day. And the biggest surprise? No goals for Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo…and a missed penalty to boot!

 

Where are all the goals? Late!

The excitement in Euro 2016 has certainly not been in the number of goals. In fact, the current tournament average of 1.83 is the lowest in European Championship history, and is only the second time (1.93 in 1980) that the tournament average has dipped below 2.00. Yet it would be unfair to describe the event as boring, mostly because of the timing of the goals on offer. In fact, the statistics are rather amazing. So far, only 4 of the total 48 goals have been scored in the opening 30 minutes of the match. Contrast that number with the 12 that have been scored after the 87th minute (one quarter of the total) and it is easy to see why this tournament has been full of late late drama. England are a case in point. In their opening match, the English conceded a 92nd minute equaliser against the Russians, yet in their second game scored a 92nd minute winner against Wales. Yet these have not even been the latest goals of the tournament, with both France’s Payet and Northern Ireland’s Niall McGinn having notched in the 96th minute. The moral of the story? Keep watching.

To Win Euro 2016

Spain 4.33

France 4.50

Germany 5.50

England 9.00

Italy 12.00

All odds courtesy of Bet365 and correct as of 16.00 GMT on Monday 20/06/16

Steve Paget

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