Goalkeeper Saving Penalty

Which Euros Has Had the Most Penalty Shootouts?

We are writing this piece in the immediate aftermath of England’s devastating yet highly predictable loss on penalties to Italy in the final of Euro 2020 (that took place on 11th July 2021). Penalties are a bit of a sore subject at the moment but we must be masochists because England’s demise got us thinking about penalty shootouts at the Euros. So, that is exactly what we are examining in this article.

The key question we will be answering is, which Euros tournament has seen the most penalty shootouts? However, we will go into a bit more depth by looking at some of the most famous – and indeed infamous – moments from shootouts, as well as breaking down the penalty stats by team and tournament.

The information below is based on the entire history of the European Championship from its first penalty shootout in 1976 up until… well, up until 2021… say no more!

How Many Shootouts Have There Been at the Euros?

Since the first penalty shootout at a European Championship in 1976, there has been at least one game that has gone to penalties in every tournament apart from 1988. Moreover, since the expansion to 16 teams in 1996, the 2000 Euros were the only ones not to see multiple shootouts. The list below details the years of the tournaments in order of the most knockout games that required penalties.

  • 4 – 1996, 2020
  • 3 – 2016
  • 2 – 2004, 2008, 2012
  • 1 – 1976, 1980, 1984, 1992, 2000
  • 0 – 1988

The Record Four Shootouts of Euro ’96 and Euro 2020

Football Panel Number 4To cut to the chase, two editions of this brilliant tournament have seen four shootouts. In 1996 hosts England were involved in two of the four, whilst in Euro 2020 (played in 2021), eventual winners Italy were also forced into spot kicks on two occasions out of the four shootouts. We are going to crown Euro 96 as the king of the penalties though as that year there were fewer knockout matches. Just 16 teams took part in Euro 96, compared to 24 for the pan-European event of 2020/21. The former saw just seven games in the knockout phase (four quarters, two semis and the final) whilst the latter had an extra eight games in the Round of 16 and so an extra eight clashes that could have gone to a penalty shootout.

Shootouts at Euro ’96

So whilst four out of seven games at Euro 96 needed to be settled from the spot (a hefty proportion of 57%), at Euro 2020 it was four from 15 (just 27%). The table below shows more information about the games at Euro 96 for which penalties were required.

Game (Round) FT Score A.E.T Pens Winner
England v Spain (QF) 0-0 0-0 4-2 England
France v Netherlands (QF) 0-0 0-0 5-4 France
Czech Republic v France (SF) 0-0 0-0 6-5 Czech Republic
Germany v England (SF) 1-1 1-1 6-5 Germany

England’s shootout win over Spain was a rare occasion where the Three Lions actually won one. Alan Shearer, David Platt, Stuart Pearce and Paul Gascoigne made it a perfect four from four and two misses from Spain meant they progressed to the semis. Whilst the victory was memorable in itself, few will forget the roars of joy and relief from Pearce when he scored having missed against Germany in the World Cup semi in 1990.

Normal service was resumed for England in the semis against the old enemy, Germany. Terry Venables’ men actually played very well and probably deserved to win but the game went to penalties and the rest is all part of England’s football history. There were 10 excellent penalties scored in a row before Gareth Southgate tamely hit it to the German keeper’s right. He saved it comfortably enough, before Andreas Moller blasted the winning spot kick past David Seaman.

Shootouts At Euro 2020

As said, we also witnessed four shootouts at Euro 2020 but from more than twice as many knockout matches. Once again England were on the wrong end of things, with Southgate this time the manager who needed to console Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford who were unable to convert from the spot. Italy probably deserved to beat England in the final but they were rather more fortunate in the semis when they were second best to Spain but triumphed in their penalty shootout.

Game (Round) FT Score A.E.T Pens Winner
Switzerland v France (QF) 3-3 3-3 5-4 Switzerland
Spain v Switzerland (QF) 1-1 1-1 3-1 Spain
Italy v Spain (SF) 1-1 1-1 4-2 Italy
Italy v England (Final) 1-1 1-1 3-2 Italy

History Of Penalty Shootouts At The Euros

Euro 96 and Euro 2020 are the finals that have seen the highest number of penalty shootouts but they are certainly not the only ones in which spot kicks were needed. From 1960 to 1980 inclusive only four nations made the tournament proper and so shootouts were a rarity. Indeed, penalties were not used in the first three editions of the tournament, a replay being required in 1968 to separate Italy and Yugoslavia after the first final ended 1-1 after extra time. In the semi final, Italy had progressed against the Soviet Union by an even more dubious method; after the game ended 0-0 after extra time and with a replay only being used for the final, the result was decided by the toss of a coin!

As such, the first-ever penalty shootout at the Euros did not come until the 1976 finals and indeed the final itself. Czechoslovakia beat West Germany 5-3 after the game had ended 2-2 but this match and shootout is famous more for the winning spot kick than the score. Many football fans may be familiar with the term “Panenka” but not know where it comes from. Well, the answer lies in the video below:

Antonin Panenka scored the winning penalty and did so in real style, delicately floating the ball down the middle, the keeper already having dived. It takes great nerve and chutzpah to even attempt such a kick, let alone to do so with the European Championship at stake. Penalties taken in this way are now known as Panenkas in honour of the man who first dared it.

List Of All Penalty Shootouts At The Euros

The table below shows details of all the Euros finals shootouts from the first in 1976 through to the most recent edition, Euro 2020.

Euros Game And Result Stage
1976 Czechoslovakia beat West Germany 5-3 Final
1980 Czechoslovakia beat Italy 9-8 3rd Place Game
1984 Spain beat Denmark 5-4 Semi final
1992 Denmark beat Netherlands 5-4 Semi final
1996 England beat Spain 4-2 Quarter final
1996 France beat Netherlands 5-4 Quarter final
1996 Czech Republic beat France 6-5 Semi final
1996 Germany beat England 6-5 Semi final
2000 Italy beat Netherlands 3-1 Semi final
2004 Portugal beat England 6-5 Quarter final
2004 Netherlands beat Sweden 5-4 Quarter final
2008 Turkey beat Croatia 3-1 Quarter final
2008 Spain beat Italy 4-2 Quarter final
2012 Italy beat England 4-2 Quarter final
2012 Spain beat Portugal 4-2 Semi final
2016 Poland beat Switzerland 5-4 Round of 16
2016 Portugal beat Poland 5-3 Quarter final
2016 Germany beat Italy 6-5 Quarter final
2020 Switzerland beat France 5-4 Round of 16
2020 Spain beat Switzerland 3-1 Quarter final
2020 Italy beat Spain 4-2 Semi final
2020 Italy beat England 3-2 Final

What Percentage Of Knockout Games Go To Penalties At The Euros?

So, as the various tables and lists above show, since the first penalty shootout in 1976, the Euros have seen a total of 22 matches go all the way to spot kicks. But just how many knockout games have there been in that period for which penalties have been a possibility? There are several betting markets that relate to penalties and knowing just how likely they are to be required may give you an edge.

Knockout games are often tighter and tenser than matches in the earlier phases of the event where there is less at stake. As such we often tend to see games end 1-1 or even 0-0 and frequently there are no goals in extra time, with both sides wary of committing too many men forward. So, what proportion of games go to penalties?

Well, in 1976 we had the semis and the final, plus a third-place game, whilst in 1980 a strange group system was used that meant the only knockout games were the final and a third-place playoff clash. 1984 saw three sudden-death matches, as did 1988 and 1992. From 1996 to 2012 inclusive the tournament followed a standard format with a group phase eliminating half the 16 teams before we saw quarter and semi finals, plus the final (and, mercifully, no pointless play-off for third place).

This was added to in 2016 when the tournament expanded to 24 teams, meaning we had eight last 16 games too and thus 15 knockout matches at Euro 2016 and Euro 2020. All told, that gives us a total of 80 knockout matches in the Euros where a shootout was a possibility. With 22 games going all the way to the so-called lottery of penalties, that means that 27.5% of games have gone to a shootout.

Euro 96 marked a real high point, with 57% of the knockout games remaining level after extra time. The following tournament saw very few games go all the way, with just 14.3% of the clashes at Euro 2000 requiring spot kicks. Since then things have been very consistent, with no great divergence from the expected norm, with between 20% and 28.6% of Euros knockout clashes needing a penalty shootout. In summary, therefore, based on the modern, expanded format, it is fairly safe to assume that around one in four matches in the Euros knockout phase will go to a shootout.

Who Has The Best Record On Penalties At The Euros?

Czech Republic 3D Flag

There are different ways of answering this question but let’s start with the Czech Republic (including games played as Czechoslovakia). Like Turkey, they have a 100% record in Euros shootouts but whilst the Turks have won just one, the Czechs have triumphed three times. Incredibly they have scored all 20 penalties they have taken in shootouts. Perhaps Southgate and co should contact them for some tips!

However, a number of teams have won more than three shootouts at the Euros, with Spain and Italy leading the way on four apiece. Spain have a slight edge in that they have only lost twice, whilst the Italians have lost three times. Italy’s total of seven shootouts is more than any other side has played in throughout the Euros, with Spain next on six. That said, whilst no side has won more shootouts than Italy, their overall success rate of 57% is only upper-mid-table stuff, with Portugal, Germany and Spain all managing to win two-thirds of their shootouts.

Worst Shootout Record In The Euros

England 3D Flag

Being objective there can be little doubt about which nation has the worst record when it comes to penalties at the European Championship. But just briefly, we are going to push objectivity to the sidelines and instead make the claim that Croatia and Sweden have the worst records. Both nations have a 0% success rate and are yet to win a shootout.

If we really must be honest though, few could argue that it is not England who must carry this unwanted title. Since “Psycho screaming”, to quote Baddiel and Skinner in their Three Lions ‘98 reprise, when he helped his side see off Spain, England have lost four penalty shootouts in a row at the Euros. Their overall record is played five, lost four, won one and that appalling 20% success rate has to see them labelled the worst side in terms of penalties in the European Championship.

Netherlands have fared a fraction better, winning one out of four, whilst Spain and Switzerland have both managed one shootout success from three. England’s four losses are more than any other side but before any England fans lose all hope, it should be remembered that this is a game of fine margins. Had Marcus Rashford’s effort against Italy in the Euro 2020 final crept in off the post England, perhaps, would have won.

It would then be England celebrating Euros glory and Italy with four shootout losses at the bottom of this sorry statistical pile. We may just be clutching at straws though!