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26/06/2008 No.48
Kevin Pullein
Thurs June 26, 2008
Two minutes from the end of the 1980 European Championship final Horst Hrubesch scored with a header from a corner to give West Germany a 2-1 win over Belgium. It was the last time the final produced more than two goals in 90 minutes and in the six subsequent finals the total number of goals scored was only 11. Two golden goals were added in extra-time but these would not have counted for betting purposes.

We do not know yet who will be playing in the final of Euro 2008 in Vienna on Sunday. However, it is likely to feature the two most conspicuous features of finals in this and other competitions - a low score and a low number of yellow and red cards. The last five World Cup finals generated only eight goals.

In most competitions the final also provokes very few bookings - which is the opposite of what most bettors anticipate. It might be because some players are awed by the occasion. It might be because the referee is more reluctant to discipline people on such an occasion. Whatever the reason, it happens.

In bookings markets, where 10 points are awarded for each yellow card and 25 for each red, the average make-up in group games at the last three European Championships was 50. In the final it was 40. The average make-up in group games at the last four World Cups was 51 but in the final it was 39. The last and most important game in a tournament consistently provokes fewer yellow and red cards than earlier fixtures.

In most respects this European Championship has been similar to previous ones. In 11 of the 21 games played before last night in which there was a clear favourite in the betting market the favourite did not win. The opening fixtures were low-scoring and the quarter-finals lower still. In all likelihood the final will also remain true to type.
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