Even before the Euro 2020 tournament moved on to the knockout stages, footballing records were being made and broken in the group stages.
It’s been an iconic and unpredictable tournament, keeping fans, pundits, and odds-makers on their toes. Seeing the action in live-time is one thing, but noting on paper the significance of the stats is another. For instance, there were an impressive 94 goals scored in the group stages games, and the fastest player to score was Sweden’s Emil Forsberg who scored against Poland in one minute and 21 seconds.
There’s been even more historical moments and plenty of unexpected results that have had spectators scratching their heads, here are a few of the most surprising revelations so far.
With their wins over Ukraine, Austria, and North Macedonia, it was the third time the Netherlands have won all their group stages games, having also done so in 2000 and 2008, the most by any team in the European Championship.
Another history-maker was the England team topping their group with only two winning goals scored, 1-0 over Croatia and the same result over the Czech Republic, with a goalless draw against Scotland in between. This made England the lowest-scoring team to win a group in Euro tournaments. Now, England are +150 in the latest betting odds to win the tournament outright after an impressive quarter-final performance that saw them thrash Ukraine by a staggering 4-0 and a well-deserved 2-0 victory over their historic rivals: Germany.
In terms of cringe-worthy blunders, the Euro 2020 group stages saw nearly as many own goals – a total of eight – as the number of own goals in every previous edition of the Championships combined. The seventh own goal in the groups was scored by Slovakian goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in his team’s game against Spain when he also saved a penalty from the opposition’s Alvaro Morata – making Dubravka the first goalkeeper in Euro history to both save a penalty and score an own goal in the same game. Mixed messages, indeed.
That game went on to see Spain triumph with a 5-0 scoreline (thanks to another own goal from Slovakia’s Juraj Kucka), equalling the joint-largest margin in Euro history as the tournament’s fifth five-goal victory.
That same day (June 23rd) saw the most goals scored in one day of the 2020 group stage – 18 between the four games played. Five from that Spain v Slovakia match, another five from Sweden v Poland and four each in the Germany v Hungary and France v Portugal 2-2 draws.
The Portugal v France game was the first to see three penalties scored (not considering penalty shoot-outs) in a European Championship game, with two from Ronaldo and one from the Frenchman Karim Benzema. In just the group stages alone, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo drew level with Ali Daei’s record 109 goals scored in international football, and he received a message of support from the legend himself urging Ronaldo to beat his tally.
There’s no Final Whistle in Football
Even in the group stages, Euro 2020 dazzled with its display of expertise on-field. Now the question remains, will certain players take their winning form forward when they’re back in their Premier League shirts? And also, will the magically unpredictable spirit of the Euros live on when the new football season kicks off? Only time will tell.