The European Championship is an action-packed month in the footballing calendar but do some teams benefit from more rest than others? TSZ looks at whether the winners, since the introduction of the group-stage in 1980, have benefited from a kind schedule of fixtures. Below is a table detailing the dates in June (and July when stated otherwise) the finalists played, the number of days from their first game to the final, their shortest and longest amount of rest between games, the number of matches they played and the average number of rest days between fixtures.
It's interesting to note that the five-match format offered teams the fewest number of rest days on average, with no side averaging more than three days per fixture, compared with the six-game format introduced in 1996, which saw just one side (Spain 2008) have less than 3.5 days rest on average.
During the four-game format, the finalist which started first had more rest, with fewer games in the knockouts to allow the late starters to catch up on the early starters. For example, winners France in 1984 started two days earlier than runners-up Spain and had an extra day to prepare for the final. Germany in 1980 started earlier and had an extra day for the final too. (1984 was the first year the hosts played a day before anyone else.)
Whereas Spain in 2008 had the fewest days between their opening game and the final- since the introduction of the six-game format- started two days later than runners-up Germany and had one less day to prepare for the final, but the Spaniards triumphed.
Only in 1996 did both finalists have the same number of days to prepare for the final, but this seemingly makes little difference as the team with more rest has gone on to win four times compared to the three for the team with less rest.
This year, France kicked off the tournament a day earlier than the rest of their group and finished on June 19, a whole week before they play their round-of-16 fixture on June 26 against a third placed side. Meanwhile, the second placed team in group F will have five days to prepare and the third placed team in the final group could end up playing Croatia on June 25, just three days after their final group game.