By John Parolin, ESPN Stats & Information
Spain advanced 4-2 on penalties after a tightly contested 0-0 draw in Donetsk with Portugal. Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo, set to take the fifth kick for Portugal, did not participate in the shootout despite converting 23 of 25 penalty kicks (including shootouts) in the past two La Liga and Champions League seasons.
After the French failed to handle Spain by sitting back and defending, Portugal started out by taking a more offensive approach to containing the Spanish attack.
Spain held a narrow 65-55 touches in the final third advantage at halftime. As the match went on that disparity grew, but Spain couldn’t convert a 138-54 advantage into a goal over the final 75 minutes.
Spain outshot opponents by an average of over 10 shots per match in its first four games, but only outshot Portugal 11-10 on Wednesday.
The wing play from both sides was poor. The teams combined to complete two of their 43 crossing attempts, the worst percentage in a game this tournament.
Portugal entered the match having completed the second-most crosses (22) of any team at EURO 2012. However, the Portuguese completed only 1-of-19 crosses (5 percent) against Spain, the fourth-worst percentage of any team at the tournament.
Spain had averaged 14.5 crosses per game in its first four games, completing 26 percent of attempts. Against Portugal, Spain completed 1-of-24 crosses (4 percent), the third-worst in a game this tournament.
While Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty kick status will dominate the conversation, his teammate on the opposite wing had his worst game of the tournament. Nani finished with 37 total touches in 120 minutes after averaging 46.5 per game in his first four games. Nani created 13 chances in his first four games, and failed to create one against Spain.
La Furia Roja posted a tournament-low passing percentage (81 percent) and completion percentage on passes into the attacking third (71 percent). For the tournament, Spain has completed 909 passes into the attacking third in its five games, or 86 more than the bottom four teams (Ireland, Greece, Sweden and Poland) did in their 13 games combined.
By Jonathan Costa, ESPN Stats & Information
Portugal and Spain meet in an elimination match for the second straight major tournament, following up their meeting in the Round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup.
Spain was victorious 1-0 in that match en route to winning its first ever World Cup. Portugal is still seeking its first major tournament trophy and a win over Spain would put Portugal into its second major tournament final, having previously reached the final at Euro 2004.
When these two teams met in South Africa, Portugal was without two players who have made a major impact at this summer’s tournament – Nani and João Moutinho.
Moutinho has completed 178 passes at an 84 percent success rate, both numbers surpassing what any Portuguese midfielder accomplished in South Africa. Nani, meanwhile, currently leads all Portuguese players with 13 chances created and his two assists are tied with Moutinho for the team lead.
Portugal’s passing as a team is leaving something to be desired at this tournament. It has the second-fewest passes completed and second-worst completion rate among teams that made the quarterfinals.
The driving force behind Portugal’s success has been the play of Cristiano Ronaldo. His three goals have him tied for the tournament lead and his 29 shots are more than any other player has taken so far.
His headed goal against Czech Republic was his sixth career goal at EURO, tied with Nuno Gomes for most by a Portuguese player and leaving him just one behind England’s Alan Shearer for second-most in EURO history. He also became the first Portuguese player to score at five different major tournaments.
Unsurprisingly, La Furia Roja also have the tournament’s best passing display so far with a tournament-high 2,779 passes completed. Spain’s 78 percent completion rate in the attacking third also leads all teams and its 60 chances created are second-most in the tournament behind Italy’s 77.
Keying the passing charge from Spain’s midfield is Xavi. He has completed 416 passes and has 19 chances created, both which lead the tournament.
Spain comes into this semifinal with a 299-minute shutout streak, 25 minutes shy of the longest single-EURO streak, a 324-minute run by Italy in 1980.
One key to its near-perfect defense has been its ability to simply keep the ball away from its opponent. Spain has a 61 percent possession rate in its first four matches, more than any other team.
Spain is limiting opponents to a 62 percent completion rate in its defensive third, best among the four semifinalists, and has also limited its opponents to just 17 chances created in the attack third.
The winner of this match takes on the winner of Thursday’s Germany-Italy match in the final on Sunday in Kiev.
By John Parolin, ESPN Stats & Information
Portugal became the first semifinalist of EURO 2012 after a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in Warsaw, thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo match-winning goal in the 79th minute. Ronaldo had 49 touches in the match, his personal tournament high, and continued his high performance level from the group stage finale against the Dutch.
In the first two games of the tournament, Ronaldo averaged 18 touches in the attacking third and 4.5 in the penalty area without a goal. In his last two games, Ronaldo has averaged 29 touches in the attacking third and 10.5 in the box, with three goals.
Ronaldo beat Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie to Joao Moutinho’s cross to score the 18th headed goal of this tournament, which is the most in a single EURO. Ronaldo had a game-high eight shots in the match on 33 attacking third touches, but his only shot on goal went in.
Ronaldo hit the post with two more attempts Thursday, bringing his tournament-high total to four. No other team has more than three.
Ronaldo was less compartmentalized on Thursday against the Czech Republic. After recording four of his 118 touches in the group stage on the right third of the field, Ronaldo had 14 of his 49 touches (29 percent) on the right side. In the attacking third, Ronaldo had one touch through the first three matches on the right side, but had 11 today.
The Selecção was very active on the wings, attempting a tournament-high 35 crosses and completing eight against the Czechs. Portugal finished the group stage as one of the worst crossing teams in the tournament, completing 16 percent of its crosses. Only Greece (14 percent) was more inefficient crossing.
Joao Moutinho was dangerous on the wings, completing four of his six crosses with three chances created and an assist. The Czech Republic was 2-11 on crosses (18 percent).
The Czechs finished the game without a shot on target, the only team in the tournament to fail to put a shot on goal in a match. The Czech Republic created two total chances in the match, none by Jaroslav Plasil. Plasil was tied for fourth in the tournament during group play with 14 chances created.
Milan Baros in particular ended a disappointing tournament. Tied for seventh on the all-time EURO scoring list with five goals, Baros failed to record a single touch in the box against Portugal, finishing with one shot. Baros had one touch in the box total in 338 minutes of tournament play, but currently leads the tournament with 17 fouls committed, which is seven more than anyone else.
By John Parolin, ESPN Stats & Information
Portugal and the Czech Republic will meet in Warsaw on Thursday for the first EURO 2012 quarterfinal. Portugal’s advancement to the knockout round marked the fifth-straight trip the Selecção made out of the group stage, the tournament’s longest active streak. The Czechs return to the second round after failing to advance out of the 2008 Group Stage.
Portugal is one of two quarterfinalists without a title (England), while the Czechs are the first team in tournament history to win its group with a negative goal differential.
Through two games, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was a lightning rod for criticism after making a minimal impact. Ronaldo’s 76 touches were ninth on the team (and tied for 143rd in the tournament) entering Portugal’s last match against the Netherlands.
Ronaldo responded with his first major international tournament brace in a 2-1 win, and recorded as many touches in the box (13) as the entire Dutch team. Through the group stage, Ronaldo had 22 touches in the box, one fewer than tournament leader Franck Ribéry.
Portugal did not move the ball effectively in the group stage, posting some of the worst passing numbers in the tournament. The Portuguese ranked 15th of 16 teams in pass completion percentage (72.0 pct) and completion percentage on passes into the penalty area (26.8 pct).
Despite their poor passing, the Portuguese were able to test opposing goalkeepers, with 28 shots on target in the group stage (fourth-most in the tournament). Petr Cech will need to be at his best. Cech posted a 50.0 save percentage, worst of any goalkeeper who faced at least 20 shots in EURO 2012.
While not the most anticipatory side defensively (tournament-low 21 interceptions), the Czech Republic played a very physical style in Group A. The Czechs committed 61 fouls, tied with Croatia for most in the tournament. Forward Milan Baros led the group stage with 14 fouls committed.
Baros, tied for seventh on the Euro all-time scoring list with names like van Basten, Zidane and Klinsmann, had one touch in the box in his 242 minutes played. Baros’ teammates Vaclar Pilar and Petr Jiracek picked up the scoring slack, each scoring a pair of goals in the group stage.
Midfielder Jaroslav Plasil’s passing led to 14 chances created, fourth-most in group play. Plasil connected on a team-high 45 passes into the attacking third and 12 into the penalty area. Plasil completed 10 crosses in the three games, tied with Wesley Sneijder for most in the group stage.
Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický returned to Prague for treatment on an Achilles injury and his availability for the Portugal match is a significant question mark. Rosický created a team-high 31 chances in qualifying and Plasil needs to be a creative influence should Rosický miss the match.
The winner of the match will face the winner of Spain-France on Wednesday in the semifinals.
By Jason York and John Parolin, ESPN Stats & Information
Germany and Portugal advanced out of group play with a pair of 2-1 wins on Sunday. Portugal ended the Netherlands' streak of six straight second-round appearances at the European Championships, and now own the longest active streak with its fifth-straight trip to the knockout stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo's first two goals of the tournament punched Portugal's ticket through to the next round. Ronaldo launched 10 shots against the Dutch and put five on goal, while in his first two games combined he had 11 shots and eight on frame. Ronaldo posted 25 touches in the attacking third against the Dutch after averaging 18.0 in his first two matches.
In a game that required offensive urgency, the Oranje showed an inability to match Portugal's quality scoring opportunities. The Netherlands completed 91 passes in the attacking third compared to Portugal's 78, but the Portuguese doubled the Dutch in passes completed in the box (16-7) and chances created (19-9).
The Netherlands registered 13 touches in the box for the game, as many as Ronaldo alone. Ronaldo posted the second-most touches in the box of any player in a game this tournament, falling one short of Fernando Torres' 14 against Ireland.
The Netherlands completed 78.3 percent of attacking third passes and posted a 32-4 touches advantage in the attacking third in the first 11 minutes of the game. After Rafael Van der Vaart's goal in the 11th minute, the Dutch only completed 56.2 percent of passes in the attacking third over the final 79 minutes.
The Netherlands was uncharacteristically inaccurate with its passing in the box. In the first two matches, the Dutch completed 40-of-79 (50.6 pct) of passes in the penalty area and was the only team through two games to complete over half of its passes in the box. Sunday against Portugal, the Netherlands only completed 7-of-31 (22.6 pct), the eighth-worst percentage of any team in a tournament game.
In Lviv, Germany completed 188 passes into the attacking third of the field against Denmark, including a tournament-high 124 in the second half. Germany also had 237 touches in the attacking third, 143 in the second half. Denmark had essentially one-third fewer completed passes into and touches in the attacking third, but still had a 7-6 advantage in chances created.
Midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira organized Germany through ball control, especially in the second half. Schweinsteiger's influence grew in each of Germany's group-stage matches and culminated with 90 completed passes, the most of any German player in the tournament. Schweinsteiger's 30 completed passes into the attacking third of the field nearly matched his output from the first two games combined (31).
Khedira finished with 71 completed passes, his tournament high, and created three scoring chances (tied for second-most of any German player in the tournament).
Even in defeat, Denmark effectively utilized Nicklas Bendtner as a target forward through the tournament. Bendtner set up Michael Krohn-Dehli's goal with a headed pass, and he was 8-for-14 on headed passes into the attacking third of the field in Denmark's three games.
By Jason York, ESPN Stats & Information
Mario Gomez did not need many touches Wednesday against the Netherlands to score twice and push Germany to a 2-1 win in Group B.
Gomez is tied for the tournament lead with three goals and only has eight touches in the penalty area in Germany’s first two games. He has scored a goal every 2.7 touches in the box to date.
Gomez, who scored 38 goals in 45 games for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League last season, averaged 5.3 touches in the penalty area and 0.8 goals per game for Bayern.
The Netherlands continued to pad every key offensive statistic, except for the most important one – goals.
The Dutch have tournament-high totals in scoring chances created (38), touches in attacking third (326) and touches in the penalty area (54) and still just one goal to show for it.
Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder is the tournament’s individual leader in scoring chances created (16), passes completed in the attacking third (69) and into the penalty area (21).
The Netherlands’ Robin van Persie has a tournament-best 18 touches in the penalty area, but his goal, the only Dutch goal so far, was scored from well outside the box at 23.1 yards from goal.
In the other Group B match Wednesday, Portugal defeated Denmark 3-2, though even with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani in attack, Portugal did not spray the ball around in possession. Portugal has had two of the five lowest single-game completed passes totals in the tournament to date, including a tournament-low 242 passes completed Wednesday against Denmark.
Ronaldo had 38 touches for the second straight match, but he looked much more dangerous against Denmark than he did in his opening game. Ronaldo had 22 touches in the attacking third of the field against Denmark, including 15 in the second half. Ronaldo had only 14 touches in the attacking third in the entire opening match against Germany.
Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner had three of his 30 touches against Portugal in the penalty area and two of those touches led to headed goals by him. Twelve of the 33 goals scored in the tournament to date have been headers.
By John Carr, ESPN Stats & Information
The Group of Death lived up to its name on Saturday, as one of the tournament favorites fell to the group's alleged minnow.
Denmark earned its first win in seven Euro openers by defeating the Netherlands 1-0, also ending an eight-game winless streak versus the Dutch, dating back to 1967. (Note that their Euro 1992 meeting was officially a draw, and Denmark advanced on penalties.)
Netherlands trailed for 66 minutes of the match, after trailing for only 47 minutes combined over seven matches in the 2010 World Cup. The Dutch had chances but couldn’t finish, taking 19 shots in the box and putting only three of them on target against the Danes.
Compare that to the 2010 World Cup, where fifty percent of Netherlands’ shots in the box were put on target. Netherlands also completed 26 of 54 passes in the box, compared to just 5 of 20 for the Danish.
One silver lining for the Dutch: the only other time Netherlands lost in eight Euro group openers was a 1-0 defeat to the Soviet Union in Euro ’88, when the Dutch went on to win their only major title.
Another pre-tournament favorite, Germany, emerged with a 1-0 victory over Portugal on Saturday and is now unbeaten in all nine of its Euro group openers (4-0-5). Portugal has failed to win a game in 2012, losing two and drawing two, netting just one goal in the process.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s leading scorer during qualifying, failed to make a significant impact against Germany. His 38 touches were 10th on the team and the fewest among all players who played the entire match. His fewest touches in a Euro qualifying match was 47, and he averaged 57 touches per match in La Liga season.
Mario Gomez tallied the winner for Germany with a climbing header in the 72nd minute. Gomez has the most headed goals in the Bundesliga over the past two seasons with 11, and he has 44 goals in 59 games for club and country across all competitions since the start of the 2011-12 season.