By Jason York, ESPN Stats & Information
Italy advanced past England in the EURO 2012 quarterfinals Sunday on penalty kicks, but the Italians carried the majority of play with a dominating performance in the midfield.
Midfielder Andrea Pirlo was the midfield maestro against England as he orchestrated his team’s possession by playing in a deeper, holding role. Pirlo had 68 percent of his touches during the game in the middle third of the field and 88 of his 118 completed passes (75 percent) originated from that area as well.
Italy was able to hold possession against England by dominating the midfield. Italy completed 801 passes against England, the second-best total of the tournament, and 464 of its pass completions originated from the middle third of the field.
Italy also had its best game of the tournament in terms of completed passes into the attacking third of the field. Italy completed 234 passes into the attacking third, the third-best single-game total of the tournament and created 28 scoring chances from those passes, tied for the highest single-game total since the advent of group play in 1980.
England captain Steven Gerrard struggled to complete passes into the attacking third of the field against Italy. Gerrard was only 4 of 15 on passes attempts into the attacking third. Gerrard had completed at least 11 passes into the attacking third in each of England’s first three games of the tournament.
Wayne Rooney’s impact on the game in terms of touches in the attacking third of the field progressively decreased for England. Rooney had 33 touches in the attacking third in 120 minutes of playing time, but only five touches came in the penalty area and none of them occurred in the 30 minutes of extra time.
By Zack Singer, ESPN Stats & Information
England and Italy meet in Kiev on Sunday in the final quarterfinal match of EURO 2012.
England appears in the knockout stage for the fourth time, having lost in the quarterfinals in their last trip to the European Championships in 2004. Italy, which won EURO in 1968, is making its fourth appearance in the knockout stage in the last five European Championships.
One of the keys to England’s success at EURO 2012 has been its success on crossing passes. England attempted only 53 crosses (8th out of 16 teams), but they averaged a tournament-high 34 yards.
Despite this, three of England’s five goals came off crosses, the most of any team in group play. England’s 15 completed crosses tied for second-most during the group stage. England completed 28 percent of crosses, third-highest during the group stage.
England has frequently been on the back foot at EURO 2012, with 243 touches in their own penalty area. That was the second-most for any team in the group stage, trailing only Denmark, who had 262.
Joe Hart has been a force between the posts for The Three Lions, with more touches than any other keeper in group play (50), and the second-most saves (14).
Wayne Rooney returned from suspension for England in their final group stage match against Ukraine, heading in the game’s only goal. Rooney’s suspension was the consequence of a mental lapse in England’s final EURO 2012 Qualifier.
But his head has always been a big asset at the Euros. Rooney has five headed shots at the European Championships in his career- four have been on-target and he’s scored twice.
While they will never be mistaken for Spain, Italy’s 80 percent passing rate is the highest for any Italian side at the Euros since the tournament installed group play in 1980.
It’s also the third-straight European Championship in which Italy’s passing percentage has increased. Italy‘s midfield passing is paced by Thiago Motta (85 percent) and Daniele de Rossi (83 percent).
Italy relied on strong defensive principles in group play, finishing with the third-most interceptions (60) and 10 offsides drawn (tied for the most).
But Italy may be without the anchor of their defense if Giorgio Chiellini fails to recover from the thigh injury he suffered in their game against Ireland. Chiellini led the Azzurri in tackles, clearances and interceptions during group play.
Neither England nor Italy has any players serving discipline suspensions. The winner faces Germany in the semifinals on June 28th.
By John Carr and John Parolin, ESPN Stats & Information
The French backed into the second round after falling 2-0 to Sweden in Kiev, while Wayne Rooney vaulted the Three Lions to the top of Group D with the only goal in a 1-0 win over host Ukraine in Donetsk.
Sweden was very effective in creating chances from the wing, with both goals set up from crosses. A 54th-minute Sebastian Larsson cross to Zlatan Ibrahimovic led to the opening goal, while Samuel Holmen volleyed Christian Wilhelmsson’s cross off the bar before Larsson finished the rebound to double Sweden’s advantage. Overall, Sweden was 7-for-15 (46.7 pct) crossing, while France only completed 4-of-22 (18.2 pct) crosses.
France had a decided possession advantage, but did not translate that to quality scoring chances until falling behind in the 54th minute.
The first half was largely Sweden's back line keeping the French attack away from goal, as Les Blues had a 68-17 touches in the attacking third advantage but trailed Sweden 6-5 in touches in the box. From Ibrahimovic’s goal to the end of the game, a more urgent France had a 28-8 touches in the box advantage but could not draw level before Larsson put it out of reach.
While Sweden did not match France’s volume of possession, it created and converted chances well. Sweden completed 47.4 percent (9-19) of passes into the penalty area. The nine passes completed were tied for 32nd in a game this tournament, but the percentage was fifth-best percentage in a match this tournament.
Sweden had completed only 29.6 percent (21-71) of passes into the box entering today, and both of Sweden’s goals were set up by penalty-area crosses.
After sitting the first two matches due to a suspension from a qualifying dismissal against Montenegro, Wayne Rooney returned to end a long personal scoreless drought. Rooney had not scored in a major competition for England since the 2004 European Championships, when he netted a brace against Croatia in a 4-2 group stage win.
Rooney ended a run of 673 minutes without a goal at major tournaments with a game-winning header in the 48th minute. England’s three headed goals are tied with Denmark for the most this tournament.
While Rooney’s goal secured the group’s top spot for England, the Three Lions as a whole had their worst offensive game of the tournament. England’s 72 completed passes in the attacking third of the field were its fewest of the tournament, as was its 74.9 percent overall passing accuracy.
Ukraine finished its Euro 2012 campaign on the attack but was unable to finish any of its five shots on goal. Ukraine completed 129 passes in the attacking third of the field (67.2 percent), its most in three games this tournament.
Ukraine’s 170 touches in the attacking third of the field and 15 touches in the attacking penalty area were tournament highs for the Ukrainians.
By John Parolin, ESPN Stats & Information
France took control in Group D with a 2-0 win against co-host nation Ukraine after a 56-minute, 53-second lightning delay in Donetsk, the first in-game delay in European Championships history. The last major tournament game to be delayed was in the 1974 World Cup (West Germany vs Poland).
For the second match in a row, Les Blues controlled possession in the attacking third of the field. France posted a 190-112 touches advantage in the final third, and through two games enjoyed a 419-211 advantage over opponents England and Ukraine.
While France only scored once against England in its opener, the possession advantage France’s offense had translated into a pair of goals against Ukraine. Both Jeremy Ménez and Yohan Cabaye finished passes from striker Karim Benzema, who added three shots on goal to his pair of assists. Benzema was the fourth player to post a two-assist game this tournament.
Franck Ribéry continued his fine form for France. Ribéry created a game-high four chances for his teammates, and registered 50 touches in the final third. There have been four games this tournament where a single player has recorded at least 50 touches in the attacking third of the field, and France has three (Ribéry in both games and Samir Nasri against England).
After scoring a pair of headed goals against Sweden, Ukraine was 0-for-11 on crosses Friday. Ukraine became the second team to fail to complete a single cross in a tournament match (Czech Republic vs Greece, 0-10).
England scored a come-from-behind victory in Kiev, eliminating Sweden with a 3-2 win thanks to a Danny Welbeck game winner. The English looked like a different side against Sweden than the team that drew with France in its opening match.
The addition of Andy Carroll into the starting lineup paid off when the 6-foot-3 striker headed home a Steven Gerrard cross to give England a 1-0 lead. Carroll’s goal was the third Sweden allowed via header, tied with Portugal for the most in the tournament.
After a Glen Johnson own goal equalized, Sweden took the lead when Olof Mellberg headed home a Sebastian Larsson free kick in the 59th minute. Mellberg’s goal was the fourth by a defender in the tournament (England’s Joleon Lescott, Portugal’s Pepe and Ireland’s Sean St. Ledger), all of which came on headers.
However, the entrance of Theo Walcott changed the game for England. Walcott came on as a sub in the 61st minute, scored the equalizer in the 64th minute. Walcott’s goal was 28.7 yards away from goal, the longest of the tournament and sixth shot from outside the box.
Walcott assisted on Danny Welbeck’s game-winning goal in the 78th minute as well, when Welbeck finished Walcott’s pass to give England the second comeback win of the tournament so far. The first also came against Sweden, when Ukraine fell behind and scored twice to earn a 2-1 win in their opening match.
Sweden’s problems offensively are a big reason they were the second team officially eliminated from Euro 2012. The Swedes completed 85-156 passes in the attacking third of the field (54.5 pct) and rank 14th of 16 teams in attacking third passing percentage.
The inability to move the ball in the attacking third has been consistent among the tournament’s worst teams. The three worst teams in final third passing percentage are all in last place in their groups. Ireland and Sweden are eliminated already, while Greece needs a win against Russia to move out of Group A.
By John Parolin, ESPN Stats & Information
France and England played to a 1-1 draw on Monday in Donetsk, despite the French holding a decided advantage in the run of play.
France had 229 touches in the attacking third against England, while the Three Lions had only 99. England was one of four teams to not reach at least 100 touches in the attacking third in its opening match.
French playmakers Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery combined for 106 touches in the attacking third, more than four teams had in their tournament openers (England, Italy, Sweden and Greece). Nasri (55) and Ribery (51) are first and second among all tournament players in attacking third touches.
The English opened the scoring with a Joleon Lescott header in the 30th minute, his first international goal and one of eight headed goals so far this tournament. Of the 20 goals scored so far, 40 percent have come from headers. Only 17 percent of goals in qualifying came from headers.
Nine minutes later, the attacking duo of Nasri and Ribery struck to draw level. Nasri’s right-footed blast off a Ribery pass was the first (and only to date) goal of the tournament struck from outside the box.
France could have been more opportunistic in attack. The English turned the ball over in their defensive half eight times, the highest of any team in the tournament.
The French were efficient with the ball in possession, posting a tournament-high 88.8 pass completion percentage, but could not translate that advantage into a match-winner.
In the second match, host nation Ukraine posted the first comeback win of the tournament, beating Sweden 2-1 behind two goals from talismanic striker Andriy Shevchenko.
At 35 years and 256 days old, Shevchenko was the second-oldest player to score a goal at the Euros when he netted a header in the 55th minute. Shevchenko became the oldest to net a brace when he scored the eventual winner in the 62nd minute.
Shevchenko scored twice on only 24 total touches, less than half the touches it took Russia’s Alan Dzagoev or Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic to score their pair. The only other players with multiple goals in the tournament, Dzagoev had two goals in 63 touches and Mandzukic had two goals in 51 touches.
Ukraine’s win was Sweden’s first loss at the European Championships when scoring first (previously 3-0-1). Sweden struggled to move the ball and completed only 297 passes, the fewest of any team in the tournament.
Overall, the three teams with the lowest pass completion percentage (Ireland, Sweden and Portugal) all lost their opening match.
Swedish captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic had five turnovers in the match, the most of any player in his tournament opener. Ibrahimovic averaged 56.3 touches and 7.1 touches in the box per game during his eight qualifying games, but only had 45 touches and four in the box against Ukraine.
Ibrahimovic struggled to get involved offensively in the first half and played in a more withdrawn role after halftime. He had 19 touches and 16 pass attempts in the middle third of the field in the second half of the match, compared to five touches and five pass attempts in the middle third of the field in the first half.