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UEFA EURO 2012: Headers Prove to Be a Key Factor in the Outcome of Many Games
Many goals in soccer at the professional level are scored by heading, and headers win many games. Watch any soccer highlight show covering a professional league game and you’ll know that heading leads to many goals. UEFA Euro 2012 was no exception. A 1-1 draw in the first game was a factor in the headers, with Poland vs Greece and Spain beating Italy 4-0 in the final. 31 games were played during the tournament. A total of 71 goals were scored. 22 of the 71 goals were headers, which is almost 31%.
One of the reasons for the high number of goals scored on headers is that wing position players are instructed to cross the ball into the penalty area when attacking. This often happens during soccer matches. Players in the penalty area will have many opportunities to head high balls from the wings. Passing the ball and moving towards the goal is done very quickly; As a result, the goalkeeper does not have enough time to react to the header. Players who have the courage and skill to head the ball will get many chances to score and if desired, they will score many goals and win games for their team. Below is a breakdown of the headers played during the Euro 2012 tournament, which spanned from June 8, 2012 to July 1, 2012.
Round robin games
- Attacking from the right, the Polish defender’s cross found the head of Robert Lewandowski. His superb header gave Greece defenders and keeper no chance and put Poland 1-0 up. Greece later equalized to make the final score 1-1.
- Germany and Portugal were tied 0-0 until the 74th minute, when a cross from the right wing was headed into the far corner by Mario Gomez after receiving a deflection from a Portugal defender. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
- Their first and third goals were headers in Croatia’s 3–1 win over Ireland. For the first goal, a loose ball in the penalty area was headed into the bottom corner by Mario Mandzukic from 11 yards out. Sean St Ledger leveled for Ireland with a low header from a free kick on the left. Third goal for Croatia Mario Mandzukic beat his man and defender to head a cross at the far post.
- England got off to a good start against France as Julien Lescott headed in a free kick from the right to give England the lead. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
- Sweden led 1–0 in the second half, but Andriy Shevchenko scored two headers in the 55th and 61st minutes to give Sweden the win. The first header was from a cross from the right side of the pitch. Another from a left-hand corner that was near the post.
- Russia scored the first goal in their second game against Poland, when Allan Zagoev headed home a superb free kick curled inside the box in the opening 37th minute. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
- Pepe gave Portugal a 1-0 lead and headed the ball near the post from a swinging corner from the left side of the field. They later scored to make the game 2-0. In the 41st minute, Denmark’s Niklas Bendtner headed in a backward pass in the penalty area to score. Around 35 minutes later, Bendtner would head in another header from a cross from the right. Portugal scored a late goal to win the game 3–2. Three of the total five goals were headers.
- Andy Carroll got England off to a good start with a clinical header from a cross from the right side of the field. With the game tied at 1-1, Sweden capitalized with a free kick from the left side of the field. Melberg headed in a cross to make it 2-1. Eventually England won the match 3-2.
- Against Denmark, Germany scored in the 19th minute. Five minutes later Denmark’s Niklas Bendtner headed in a corner in the middle of the six that Krohn-Dehli found the back of the net with another header. Germany eventually won the game 2-1.
- Italy’s Antonio Cassano’s header from a corner in the 35th minute could not be handled by Ireland’s goalkeeper. His goal put Italy 1-0 up. They won the game 2-0.
- Steven Gerrard beat a defender on the right side of the pitch and crossed the ball into the six yard box. The ball went through the hands of the Ukraine keeper, he took a bounce and England striker Wayne Rooney was there to head the ball in at the back post. The only goal would be for England to win 1-0 and progress to the quarter-finals.
In the quarterfinals
- After taking several shots on goal, hitting the post and causing all kinds of confusion for defenders, Cristiano Ronaldo finally gave Portugal a 1-0 lead against the Czech Republic with a diving header from a cross from the right. The winner of this game advanced Portugal to the semi-finals.
- A German corner from the right was met by Klose with a header from outside the six yard box. The inimitable striker soared above the central defender to find the back of the net. It was Germany’s third goal in a 4-2 win over Greece.
- Xabi Alonso’s 19th minute goal against France gave them a 1-0 lead. He scored on a header from a cross from the left, completely free and unmarked at the far post. He took the ball in the direction it came from. This was the 20th header so far in UEFA Euro 2012 competition. Spain beat France 2-0 to advance to the semi-finals.
- In the semi-final with Italy and Germany, Italy’s Antonio Cassano showed great skill by ducking defenders on the left and curling a beautiful cross into the box. Mario Balotelli received the cross with a breathtaking header that gave Italy the lead. Balotelli was the hero of the match with another goal 15 minutes later with a powerful right-footed shot. Italy eventually defeated Germany 2–1 and advanced to the final to face Spain.
- Spain’s Cesc Fabregas received a pass on the run and attacked Italy’s goal line from the right side of the pitch. He crossed at the top of the six which was headed to the far post by David Silva. It was the first goal of the game and proved to be the game winner as Spain beat Italy 4–0 to win the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament. Once again the header was an important factor.
Spain won Euro 2012 by showing good possession and tactics. Now many soccer playing countries will try to emulate and incorporate their style. But it is equally important to note how the goals were scored during this tournament. Headers played an important role in UEFA Euro 2012 and accounted for 31% of the total goals scored. Players, coaches and teams should be aware of this and incorporate heading into their practices. The outcome of their next match can be determined from that.
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