With the 2016 European Championships now heading into the knockout stage, some key players have already made their mark on the tournament with others struggling to hit the heights of qualifying or indeed, their careers as a whole. Do any of the last 16 rely on certain players? Could an injury or suspension to a key man see a team struggle or would they have enough to cope without their talisman? TSZ investigates:
The above table of international goals scored by each squad raises some interesting points:
It is important to note that this data could be skewed by the age of some players with Rooney the prime example of this. He has almost two and a half times as many caps for England (114) than the four other players listed as strikers in the squad combined (Kane, Vardy, Sturridge and Rashford have 47 combined).
This is a young England squad with players who are just starting out in their international careers. Rooney has played in a new midfield so far in this tournament with Kane, Sturridge and Vardy all starting up front at various points with England seemingly moving on to the next generation. This is also true of Robbie Keane for the Republic of Ireland, with Shane Long leading the Irish line in their three group games and Keane reduced to a limited substitute’s role.
To get a more clear idea of the importance to each team, we can look back at the qualifying campaign for this tournament to see if this produces any big changes/similarities:
With Gareth Bale scoring seven goals for Wales as well as scoring the highest percentage of any team’s goals in qualifying, it’s obvious to see how important he is for his side. However, Aaron Ramsey also plays a significant role for his side too with this duo arguably the most vital to any side in the competition.
The above table shows the 17 goals scored and assists provided in Wales’ qualifying and tournament games. Just two of those goals (Cyprus at home in qualifying and the second goal against Russia in the tournament) didn’t officially involve either Ramsey or Bale, even though the latter played a significant role in Taylor’s goal against Russia. That means Bale and Ramsey have contributed with a goal or assist in a staggering 88% of Wales’ 17 goals in qualifying and the actual tournament.
Without these two pulling the strings and providing crucial contributions, Wales might well be struggling. In qualifying, Bale and Ramsey didn’t contribute a goal or assist in four games and Wales didn’t win a single one of them, drawing with Bosnia and Herzegovina (Ramsey didn’t feature in this game), Belgium and Israel as well as losing to Bosnia. In every one of the games listed in the table above, Wales came away with the win apart from the tournament game against England. During this period – if Bale or Ramsey score or assist – Wales win 62% of games. In games that either of the pair do manage that feat, Wales win a mammoth 89% of games.
Bale got another assist in the round of 16 game against Northern Ireland, contributing to an own goal. If the duo continue their efforts, Wales could get far on the kinder side of the draw.