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Albion Analytics Euros' preview

We assess the chances of a successful tournament for the five Albion players taking part.

By Liam Tharme • 11 June 2021

By The FA
Ben White will be going to Euro 2020 with England.

Albion have no less than five players attending this summer’s European Championships, with Brighton having more players in the Spanish squad (1) than Real Madrid (0).

Robert Sanchez’s incredible rise to the top has been well and truly encapsulated by his inclusion in the Spain squad, having been called up for their recent World Cup qualifiers and Euros warm-up games.

The Spaniard has undoubtedly earned his right to be there. Over the past year, he ranks inside the top 5% of Europe’s top five league goalkeepers for additional goals prevented per game (based on xG data), sitting inside the top 10% for attempted passes and the top 15% for clean sheet percentage.

By Paul Hazlewood
Robert Sanchez is one of five Albion players at the Euros.

Spain has the joint most Euros wins of any nation (3), having appeared in four finals and last winning the tournament in 2012. Sanchez included, only seven of the 72 goalkeepers at this summer’s tournament are under the age of 24, making his inclusion all the more impressive. La Furia Roja will face Sweden, Poland and Slovakia in their three group E matches.

Jakub Moder is set to start for Poland against Robert Sanchez’s Spain side when they meet in matchday two. The Pole netted at Wembley back in March, his second senior international goal, with Moder now capped seven times at this level. He is the only player to have scored against England in their last six fixtures.

His impressive contributions in Albion’s final 11 domestic games of the season – in which Moder featured in all –surely cemented his place at this summer’s Championships. Only with Dan Burn (1.26) on the pitch did Brighton average a higher points per game total than with Moder (1.25).

Capable of operating competently in wide areas and in the pivot, the Pole ranks inside the top 10% of Europe top five league midfielders over the last year for progressive dribbles, dribbles into the penalty area, crosses, shots taken and touches in the opposition box, evidence of his desire and ability to get forward. The Spain fixture is sandwiched between clashes against Slovakia (matchday 1) and Sweden (matchday 3) for Moder’s Poland.

Joel Veltman is the most internationally experienced of the Albion quintet, capped 27 times across all international competitions, which is actually more caps than the other four boast combined (17). That said, this is a first-ever Euros for Veltman, having featured in and played twice for third-placed Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup.

Holland have lost just two of the last 14 games that Veltman has featured in, and in the absence of Virgil Van Dijk the former Ajax man’s positional versatility could be key. Veltman clocked almost 2,300 minutes in the last Premier League campaign, but his most in one position was 714 as a central defender, accounting for just over 31% of his time on the field. The Dutch will face Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia in the group stages, and are on the opposite side of the tournament to England, Spain and Poland.

Leandro Trossard’s Belgium could well meet Veltman’s Netherlands in the quarter finals, if both sides top their group and advance through the round of 16 stage. Belgium will have to better Russia, Denmark and Finland to top group B, with the Red Devils facing those sides in that order.

Trossard was the only Brighton player to record five-plus goals as well as assists this season, testament to his ability to create as well as convert chances. He topped the Brighton charts last season for shots on target (23) and open-play passes plus crosses completed into the opposition box (79).

Trossard got off the mark for Belgium in their most recent competitive fixture, netting twice in the 8-0 drubbing of Belarus – in typical Trossard fashion, he netted one from outside the box, one from in the penalty area, and he scored with both feet. Three of his 10 Premier League goals have been with his non-dominant left-foot, whilst he has netted the same number from outside the box.

Finally, Ben White has become the first Brighton player to represent England at a major international tournament since Steve Foster in 1982. The Rolls-Royce of a defender may have benefitted from injuries to other players, but his availability after playing over 7,300 minutes in the past two seasons is not to be sniffed at.

Comparisons of his tackles plus interceptions numbers against other England defenders highlights just how outstanding his performances have been this season. Couple that with his positional versatility – Opta data has a fifth of his minutes coming in midfield roles – and it is clear why he is so valuable to Gareth Southgate.

White is one of nine players in the England side aged under-24 with this England squad (average age of 25 years and 117 days when they face Croatia) the youngest ever at a European Championships, and the second youngest for England at a major tournament ever, only behind the 1950 World Cup squad (25 years, 109 days average age on opening game day).

White’s quality performances against Austria and Romania are evidence of just how quickly he has developed, having excelled in his EFL loans before shining as Brighton’s most-played player last season, winning the Albion Analytics award for best non-scorer.

England kept clean sheets in both the games that White featured, with Albion’s no.3 ensuring that feat with a goal-line clearance late on against Austria, a game where he initially seemed positioned in a midfield role. Against Romania, White topped the England charts for ball recoveries (11), defensive duels engaged in and won (10/10), clearances (3) and his passing network with Ben Godfrey (25 passes between the two) was England’s highest.

His participation in those wins now means England have won all eight games when Brighton players have been in the side, the best win rate (100%) for any club. Opta’s model has it that England are a strong bet to top group D and advance deep into the competition, but their tournament win probabilities rank lower than others due to a tougher expected route to the final.

Utilsing FIFA world rankings (the lower the number, the better the side), Joel Veltman’s Netherlands have the easiest group, with an average opposition ranking of over 36, whilst Jakub Moder’s Poland face the toughest test, with their opposition averaging a ranking of 20.

Opta gives Poland (0.8%) the lowest win probability of any Albion-represented nation, whilst Leandro Trossard’s Belgium (15.7%) and Robert Sanchez’s Spain (11.3%) are second and third favourites respectively.

 

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