With the group stages soon coming to a close what lessons can be learned by the teams to have crashed out of the Euros so far? Well in the simplest possible form, and as if it needed to be said, taking your chances is imperative.
The shock departures in Group A and B have seen Russia and the Netherlands leave the competition at the first hurdle but the stats show that the two sides have had the most shots at the tournament, with Holland's 60 just edging Russia's 59. While Russia managed to net a joint high of 5 goals thus far, van Marwijk's men netted just twice in their three games, leaving them with a tournament low conversion rate of just 3% up to now.
Only Portugal, who mustered the majority of their big chances against an open and ultimately underwhelming Dutch side, have had more clear cut chances than Holland's 6, with van Persie and co. well out of sorts, failing to net any of those. In fact, both of the Oranje's two goals will rank among the best in the tournament, coming from outside of the box. Perhaps the most telling standing shows that the bottom four teams for chance conversion rate are all already eliminated from the competition (Netherlands, Poland, Ireland, Sweden).
Russia, in comparison, netted 2 of their 6 big chances, though the wayward nature of Advocaat's side's shooting cost them dearly. In their final group game against Greece, Russia fired in 31 shots at goal, but a measly 2 tested the keeper as they fired a blank for the first time in the tournament. Indeed the Russian's currently hold the worst shot accuracy of any side (15%), with Alexander Kerzakhov epitomising their frustrations in front of goal.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo (22) and Robin van Persie (15) have taken more shots than Kerzakhov's 14, but the Russian didn’t test the keeper once. The player to have had the second highest shots tally without hitting the target is Ukraine's Yevheniy Konoplyanka, back on 8. In comparison, joint top scorer Mario Mandzukic has had just 4 shots at the tournament, hitting the target with every one and scoring three times in his opening two matches.
Many were surprised by the two teams to have qualified from Group A, with Greece in particular shocking European football once again to progress ahead of Russia and Poland. The fact of the matter is that while their averages for possession (42.7%) and pass accuracy (77.8%) rank among the worst in the competition, their finishing has been efficient and clinical.
An average of just 7.3 shots per game is the lowest in the tournament by some distance but having scored 3 times, Santos' side's chance conversion rate is the 5th best at 14%. On top of that both they and fellow quarter-finalists Czech Republic have been efficient when it has mattered, with all of both teams' goals (Czech 4, Greece 3) classed as clear cut opportunities.
The team at the very top when it comes to chance conversion rate may come as a surprise. It is, in fact, Roy Hodgon's England that lead the way here, with their 4 goals coming from just 21 shots thus far (19%). England have, however, been guilty of missing 2 of their 5 big chances thus far, but with Wayne Rooney now returning, they seem in good shape, up front at least.
Another indicator that conversion rate is the key to success and failure is that Denmark are the only side in the top 8 in this regard to have crashed out at the Group stages thus far. With Germany ranking fourth (15%) their fans, and the many who backed them to win the tournament outright, will be in confident mood. With Greece up next, surely Santos’ side can’t do the unthinkable again?