Euro 2022 group stage review: Belgium defy the odds and Norway make shock exit

·4-min read

The world’s top teams won their Euro 2022 groups while Norway suffered a shock first-round exit.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key statistics that determined qualification for the quarter-finals.

Group A

Maren Mjelde reacts after Norway's defeat to Austria
Maren Mjelde and Norway suffered a shock first-round exit (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Norway were the surprise casualties of round one, finishing third behind England and Austria, and their defensive record illustrates what went wrong.

The 8-0 defeat to the Lionesses was the most striking result and, despite a mid-ranking 115 attacks against them, according to UEFA’s official stats, Martin Sjogren’s side gave up five clear chances across their three games.

That matched group rivals Northern Ireland, the lowest-ranked side in the tournament and one of only two to finish without a point, for the most in the group stage. The only goals Norway scored also came against the minnows.

England marched to top spot, scoring 14 goals from 69 shots for a tournament-high 20 per cent conversion rate, while Austria secured their progress by conceding only one goal in three games.

Group B

Alexandra Popp, right, celebrates scoring against Spain
Alexandra Popp, right, was prolific in the group stage (John Walton/PA)

Germany matched England with three wins and three clean sheets, beating Spain to top spot thanks to a 2-0 win in the meeting between the sides, while Alexandra Popp scored in all three games – a feat shared with only the Lionesses’ Beth Mead.

Spain held off Denmark for second place, with the Scandinavian side managing only one goal from 36 shots across their three games with only a quarter of those on target. Discipline also proved costly for the Danes, as they ranked fourth for fouls committed and had the most bookings, six, while only they and Belgium have had a player sent off.

Spain lead the way in possession and attacks, with only their poor conversion rate – five goals from 62 attempts – preventing them from qualifying more comfortably.

Bottom side Finland managed only 15 total shots, ahead of only Northern Ireland (13) in that category.

Group C

Sweden's Jonna Andersson, left, and Lynn Wilms of the Netherlands battle for possession
There was little to separate Sweden and the Netherlands (Danny Lawson/PA)

Sweden and the Netherlands, ranked second and fourth in the world respectively, matched each other statistically in the only group in which the battle for top spot went to the final game.

Both teams had 44 total shots, 18 on target and scored eight goals, as well as drawing 1-1 with each other in the opening game, with Sweden winning the group on goal difference thanks to their superior defence.

Netherlands goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar, pressed into service after an early injury to captain Sari van Veenendaal in the opening game, has nonetheless acquitted herself impressively with 13 saves – only four keepers in the tournament have made more.

Portugal impressed as a late replacement for Russia but conceded 10 goals from only 42 shots faced and 16 on target, while Switzerland gave up 131 attacks – fourth-most in the group stage.

Group D

Belgium players celebrate
Belgium stunned Italy in their final group match to qualify as runners-up behind France (Nick Potts/PA)

France qualified as group winners with a game to spare, largely on the back of a five-star display in their opening game against Italy. Les Bleues netted five times from 14 attempts in the first 45 minutes, but only managed three goals from their next 46 shots in the remaining two-and-a-half matches.

The Italians finished bottom of the group despite ranking second behind France for possession, goal attempts and number of attacks. Italy were the most profligate side in the tournament, scoring just twice from 55 shots.

Belgium took advantage of this to secure qualification with a 1-0 win over Italy on Monday night, scoring with one of their two shots on goal. The Belgians edged through having recorded just 22 goal attempts – the lowest tally among the eight quarter-finalists.

Iceland were the only side to go unbeaten in the group phase and finish outside the top two. They enjoyed just 42 per cent of possession across the three games, as goalkeeper Sandra Sigurdardottir produced a tournament-high 17 saves in a string of impressive displays.

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