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How Often Do Group Stage Matches End 0-0 at the Euros?

With the Group phase of Euro 2020 now finished, we thought it was a good time to consider just how often games at the UEFA European Championships end in goalless draws. For the purposes of this piece, we are looking at bona fide bore draws, games completely devoid of goals. As such we are looking only at the group stages of the various tournaments because once we reach the knockout phase, goals are – one way or another – guaranteed. Even if you have to endure 120 minutes of goalless football, at least you can bank on some excitement when the game goes to penalties.

So, just how many group games at Euro 2020 ended without a single goal being scored? And how does that compare to tournaments gone by? Are we seeing cagier football or are nations becoming more attacking? Let’s find out!

Euro 2020

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
36 2 5.6%

Euro 2020 was, of course, played in 2021 and it was the second version of this tournament to be expanded to 24 teams. That meant six groups of four, a third-placed system which nobody could understand and, pertinently here, more group matches than has been normal at this tournament. Did those extra games deliver extra nil-nils though?

  • Group E, 14th June 2021, Spain 0-0 Sweden
  • Group D, 18th June 2021, England 0-0 Scotland

So, despite this being the joint-biggest Euros ever, we saw just two games end without any goals being scored. The group phase saw a fairly normal 2.61 goals per game overall. England were arguably the worst team to watch in the group stage at this Euros, their three games seeing just two goals. The Three Lions didn’t care though, as three clean sheets saw them top the group. As for Scotland, they scored just one goal in their three games, so 0-0 here was a banker… in hindsight!

Euro 2016

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
36 4 11%

Euro 2016 saw the continental showpiece expanded from 16 teams to 24. Much as this third-placed system seems to have baffled everyone in 2021, it was in fact nothing new. So, just as at Euro 2020, Euro 2016 saw six groups of four and a total of 36 matches in this phase. But did any games end scoreless?

  • Group C, 16th June, Germany 0-0 Poland
  • Group F, 18th June, Portugal 0-0 Austria
  • Group A, 19th June, Switzerland 0-0 France
  • Group B, 20th June, Slovakia 0-0 England

As we can see, Euro 2016, held in France, saw four games end 0-0. Once again England were involved and it was a poor performance against Slovakia. This was actually an incredibly low scoring tournament, with just 2.12 goals per game on average. Somewhat surprisingly the group phase was even lower scoring and saw 69 goals at a rate of 1.92 per game, so perhaps we were lucky to get away with just four boring 0-0s!

Euro 2012

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
24 0 0%

Sixteen teams qualified for the finals of Euro 2012, the tournament being co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland, with Spain the eventual winners, defending the title they had won four years earlier. With just 16 teams the entire tournament saw only 31 games, five fewer than the group phase from 2016 onwards. But how did we fare for 0-0s?

Whilst scoring overall was relatively low at this championship (2.45 goals per game), we did not actually see any games end goalless. At least not in the group phase. In the quarter finals England drew 0-0 with Italy, the game going to extra time, then, still goalless, to penalties. You should be able to guess what happened next. In the semis, we saw another 0-0, again the sides remaining locked at this score before penalties separated Spain and Portugal.

Euro 2008

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
24 1 4.2%

The tournament in 2008 was another co-hosted event, this time Switzerland and Austria doing the honours. Once again, 16 sides competed in a traditional four-groups-of-four group stage, with quarters, semis and the final to follow. This gave us 24 group games again, with 31 in total. Spain won, their first of three major tournaments in a row, but did any games end without goals?

  • Group C, 9th June, Romania 0-0 France

The only group game to end nil-nil at Euro 2008 came in the opening match of Group C, Romania upsetting France. The French would fail to earn another point and only scored one goal, finishing last, albeit in a tough group that also included Italy and Netherlands.

Euro 2004

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
24 3 12.5%

The Euros are no stranger to a surprise winner but this may have been the biggest shock of them all as Greece stunned hosts Portugal in the final. The Greek’s success was built on solid defence but did this mean we saw lots of games finish in bore draws? As with several Euros tournaments, this was a 16-team event but how many of the 24 group-phase clashes ended 0-0?

  • Group B, 13th June, Switzerland 0-0 Croatia
  • Group C, 14th June, Denmark 0-0 Italy
  • Group D, 19th June, Latvia 0-0 Germany

England set this tournament alight in the early stages, a young Wayne Rooney coming to the fore, but he got injured and the Three Lions faltered. In terms of 0-0s, this championship saw three in the group phase and a further bore draw in the quarters (Netherlands beat Sweden 5-4 on penalties).

Euro 2000

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
24 2 8.3%

The first major tournament of a new millennium offered little originality from a format point of view, although with Belgium and the Netherlands hosting jointly it was the first time honours had been shared in this way. Once again 31 matches were scheduled, with 24 of them set to reduce 16 teams in the group stage down to eight for the knockout matches. France would beat Italy in the final of what was a high scoring (2.74 goals per game) tournament.

  • Group B, 15th June, Sweden 0-0 Turkey
  • Group C, 21st June, Slovenia 0-0 Norway

The group phase saw some thrilling games, with hosts Netherlands beating eventual winners France 3-2 to top Group D. FR Yugoslavia were the side to watch though, drawing a feisty affair with Slovenia 3-3 and losing 4-3 to Spain. England beat Germany but exited at the group phase thanks to 3-2 defeats to both Portugal and Romania. Oh, how they would have taken a 0-0 in that clash with Romania as it would have seen them progress to the quarter finals. Who says nil-nils are boring?!

Euro 1996

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
24 2 8.3%

Euro 1996 saw the number of teams reaching the finals doubled from eight to 16, giving us the format that many of us have grown up with. Much as many England fans remember Euro 96 with huge affection, sadly football did not come home. At the time of writing it still hasn’t come home. Who needs home anyway? As well as England’s valiant but doomed efforts, this was a tournament of few goals, with just 64 scored in total. Did that meagre average of 2.06 yield many bore draws though?

  • Group A, 10th June, Netherlands 0-0 Scotland
  • Group C, 19th June, Italy 0-0 Germany

As with the tournament that would follow, Euro 96 saw two clashes end entirely goalless, despite the English extravaganza seeing far fewer goals overall. However, in addition to the two group clashes that ended goalless, three of the seven games in the knockout phase had to wait until a shootout before the back of the net would ripple. France and Netherlands drew 0-0 in the quarters, as did England and Spain (which led to a very rare victory on penalties for the hosts there), whilst the Czechs edged France 6-5 on spot-kicks.

Euro 1992

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
12 3 25%

As mentioned above, prior to 1996, for many years the Euros saw just eight teams make the finals. In Euro 92 there were two groups of four, giving us just 15 matches in total and only 12 that are eligible for our 0-0 analysis. Bore draws aside, Sweden 92 was remarkable for more than just England’s abject failure and an iconic “Brolin … Dahlin … Brolin” goal/commentary. It will always be remembered as Denmark’s miracle, the Scandinavians replacing the disqualified Yugoslavia at the last minute and somehow lifting the Henri Delaunay Trophy against all the odds.

  • Group 1, 11th June, Denmark 0-0 England
  • Group 1, 14th June, France 0-0 England
  • Group 2, 15th June, Netherlands 0-0 CIS

A number of players tied as top scorer at this European Championship with just three goals in an event that saw 2.13 goals per game. Even so, three matches ending 0-0 is a lot given there were just two four-team groups. The knockout phase was a veritable goalfest, with Germany beating hosts Sweden 3-2 and Denmark edging out Netherlands from the spot after a 2-2 draw. The Danes won 2-0 in the final.

Euro 1988

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
12 0 0%

Netherlands finally claimed success in an international tournament and talisman Marco van Basten’s incredible volley in the final lives long in the memory. This tournament was hosted by West Germany and in line with all Euros from 1980 to 1992 inclusive, it was an eight-nation affair. Four teams each were split into Group 1 and Group 2, playing 12 games in total prior to the semi finals.

Euro 88 averaged a relatively low 2.27 goals per game but the 12 group phase clashes saw no games end without at least one goal being scored. Indeed, a third of the matches ended 1-0, including Ireland’s famous victory over England in Stuttgart. The Three Lions failed to roar, losing all three games.

Euro 1984

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
12 1 8.3%

As they so often do, France delivered the goods in a major tournament on home soil. The scoring stats for this tournament are somewhat skewed by the remarkable performance of one man. Now-disgraced former President of UEFA Michel Platini won the Ballon d’Or three years in a row from 1983 and he also scored 22% of all goals at Euro 84! But forget Platini, all we are about are nil-nils …

  • Group 2, 14th June, West Germany 0-0 Portugal

Group 2 was markedly less exciting, at least in terms of goals, than Group 1 and it was responsible for this tournament’s only bore draw. Overall the quartet of France, Denmark, Belgium and Yugoslavia outscored Group 2 by 23 goals to nine.

Euro 1980

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
12 3 25%

Whilst Euro 80 saw eight teams divided into two groups, there were just 14, not 15 games at these finals. We had 12 group games still, but the top side from each qualified automatically for the final, with the teams finishing second going into a third-place-playoff game. A strange system for sure but West Germany didn’t mind as they claimed their second Euros crown in the final in Rome.

  • Group 2, 12th June, Spain 0-0 Italy
  • Group 1, 17th June, Greece 0-0 West Germany
  • Group 2, 18th June, Italy 0-0 Belgium

The hosts, Italy, ultimately finished fourth after play-off defeat to the Czechs in a 9-8 penalty thriller following a 1-1 draw. However, given the Italians drew two of their three group games 0-0 (beating England 1-0 in the other), the home fans really didn’t have all that much to cheer.

Euro 1976

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
8 0 0%

From its inception in 1960 until 1980, the Euros finals saw just four teams qualify. As we have already seen, this tournament has seen a lot of tinkering but at the 1976 tournament, there were two-legged quarter finals between eight teams before a finals-proper with just four. Some consider these quarter finals to be part of the finals so we have included them here, partly because otherwise we would be left with just two semis, the final, and the third-place game.

For the purpose of this analysis we have looked at the eight quarter final games, two-legged affairs between Yugoslavia and Wales, Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union, Spain and West Germany, and Netherlands and Belgium. None ended as nil-nils, and nor did any of the knockout games. What a time to be alive!

Euro 1972

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
8 3 37.5%

The tournament in 1972 used the same structure as would be used four years later so once again we have considered the four two-legged quarter final games to be an eight-match group phase. Belgium hosted the four matches that form the finals-proper, with West Germany seeing off the Soviet Union 3-0 in Brussels. But were there any 0-0s prior to the action in Belgium?

  • Quarters, 29th April, Italy 0-0 Belgium
  • Quarters, 30th April, Yugoslavia 0-0 Soviet Union
  • Quarters, 13th May, West Germany 0-0 England

Given the nature of these games it may not be a direct or a fair comparison with matches in a group format. Nonetheless, these were undoubtedly games that were bore draws, with no goals scored and very little to cheer. West Germany will feel they got the job done having won 3-1 at Wembley in the first leg prior to the nil-nil above … and indeed they did.

Euro 1968

Group Games 0-0 Draws 0-0 %
8 0 0%

If you thought this whole quarter finals before the tournament even starts business was strange, you ain’t seen nothing yet. In 1968 we once again saw the two-legged quarter finals and there were no nil-nil draws in those eight games. Hosts Italy would ultimately prevail but luck was on their side and it really was the toss of a coin in their tight 0-0 semi final with Soviet Union. No, it really was the toss of a coin.

Italy had narrowly beaten Bulgaria 4-3 on aggregate and met the Soviets in Naples in the semis. The game ended 0-0 after extra time and in the days before penalties, Italy progressed on the toss of a coin! Italy then needed a replay to beat Yugoslavia in the final, returning to Rome on the 10th June 1968 after a 1-1 draw two days earlier. No wonder they introduced penalties.


This tournament would not become the European Football Championship until 1968. Technically Euro 1964 was the 1964 European Nations’ Cup and took place in Spain, with just Spain, who won, Soviet Union, Hungary and Denmark making the finals. There were four games, none of which ended 0-0. There was a longer qualification tournament that featured a two-legged round of 16 and a two-legged quarter final (one of which needed a replay!).

We have not included any of these games in our analysis though. This is partly because of the structure of the tournament and partly due to the fact that though these are considered to be European Championship, the name was not changed until 1968.


The 1960 European Nations’ Cup was effectively the inaugural Euros, even if the name was not changed to the European Championships for eight years. For the reasons detailed above with regards the 1964 tournament, we have not included it in our analysis.

For the record, it was held in France, with the hosts joined by eventual champions Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, meaning France is the only extant nation from this groundbreaking competition. Back in these days, goals were clearly far easier to come by as in the 22 pre-tournament qualification games there was not a single 0-0 draw. In addition, the four matches at the finals saw 17 goals and again, no nil-nils.

Are We Seeing More 0-0 Games At The Euros?

So, we now have full analysis for every European Championship since that name was used in 1968. What does the overall picture look like though?

Chart Showing the Percentage of 0-0 Draws at the Euros from Euro 1968 until Euro 2020

What can we take from the analysis above? It would be hard to say there is any discernible trend or pattern. We would perhaps be best to ignore the tournaments prior to 1980 as comparing a group match with a two-legged qualifier is probably unfair.

In fact, much as these stats may seem strange to some, they are probably remarkably predictable. Looking at a range of leagues and competitions over an extended period we know that 0-0 draws occur around 7% or 8% of the time. If we ignore the tournaments pre-1980, we will see that in three tournaments we have seen 8.3% of the group games end 0-0. If we round that down to 8%, that 8% figure has occurred at more tournaments than any other percentage.

Three out of 11 have been bang on our average. What’s more, a further four tournaments have been within 4.5% of that average. That leaves us with four outliers but with such a small sample size of games at each tournament, it is to be expected that we would see some variance. What’s even more telling is that of those four outliers (25% in 1980, 0% in 1988, 25% in 1992 and 0% in 2012), three occurred when the group phase consisted of just 12 games.

That is to say that most of the seemingly “freak” stats have occurred when the sample has been at its smallest. Interestingly if we look at the average of the averages for the European Championships from 1980 to 2020 inclusive, we get a figure of 9.84%, which is very close to the figure we would expect.

To conclude, as boring as a 0-0 draw at the Euros might be, just like with any game of football, there is around an 8% chance of it happening, give or take!