It's fair to say that thus far Euro 2012 has not disappointed on the pitch, with England's battling display against France perhaps forcing the least entertaining game of the tournament so far. Up to now there have been no goalless draws and 39 goals scored over 14 games, equating to an impressive average of 2.79 goals per game.
One thing that has stood out, particularly prior to yesterday's second round of matches in Group C, is the number of headed goals that have been netted. With 12 headers scored over the first 14 games of the tournament, an average of 0.86 per game is the highest in the tournament's history, so what is leading to this new trend?
Thus far only 7 of the 39 goals at the tournament have been left footed, with only 6.8% of efforts with this foot converted (7/103). When it comes to right footed goals the conversion rate improves slightly, with 9.6% (20/209) of efforts scored with this foot. Clearly increased conversion rates from headers can be attributed to chances generally coming from closer to the goal, but the figures remain significant.
When it comes to the most effective sides in this regard so far, Andriy Shevchenko's headed double represented Ukraine's only aerial attempts at the tournament, and the same 100% success rate is shared by England, with Lescott netting their only headed attempt thus far. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Netherlands have had the most headed attempts in the competition, with 10, but have failed to score any of said efforts.
The fact that the Dutch are already in the minority (7/16) of sides yet to strike with a headed attempt, with just 2 games of the tournament gone for most of the competing teams, is quite alarming. Of the remaining 9 teams to have scored headed goals, it is worth noting that co-hosts Poland have the worst conversion rate so far, at a still impressive 14.3%.
When analysing the conversion rates of headed attempts across Europe's top 5 leagues last season it is clear to see that so far at Euro 2012, players have been somewhat abnormally clinical when it comes to aerial efforts. The 12 headed goals at the tournament have come from 58 efforts thus far, giving an average team conversion rate of 20.7%.
The top European league when it comes to headed conversion rates may come as a surprise, with La Liga leading the way. However, the team average of 14.3% is way down on the near 21% of the competing nations at Euro 2012. Perhaps more shockingly, Barcelona's average of 22.4% makes them one of only three clubs across Europe with a better figure here than the current rate at the championships in Poland and Ukraine, along with Levante (26%) and Lyon (22.2%).
The second best average conversion rate of headed attempts per league belongs to France's elite division, with the average Ligue 1 side netting 12.8% of headed efforts last season. This figure is just up on the German Bundesliga (12.2%), with England's Premier League and Italy's Serie A stacking up the rest, with sides in the respective league's averaging 11.6% apiece.
In terms of the timing of this article, England fans will be hoping that the tournament trend here can continue after hearing that Andy Carroll is set to start against Sweden. However, it should be said that not only did the Liverpool man muster the most headed efforts across Europe's top 5 leagues last season, with 42, but he also missed the target with the most, as 25 went astray.