It's pretty unbelievable to factually state that none of 83 matches for the 2016 Euro Cup and Copa America had a team recapture a scoring lead. Really, it's an indictment on the rules for the sport of soccer. How can this be that the 'beautiful game' we all love so much is organized in a way to make it so difficult for the world's best players to score goals and regain leads in a game?
Out of a total of 32 games in Copa America, there were no lead changes at all. Teams only tied once after being down more than one goal (Ecuador tied Peru 2-2) and teams never went ahead in a game after being down. Again, to reiterate, no team ever took a lead after being in a losing position.
Out of 51 total games (no third place game) in Euro Cup, there were five lead changes, all from only one goal down: England retook Wales 2-1, Croatia retook Spain 2-1, France retook the Republic of Ireland 2-1, Iceland over England 2-1 and Wales over Belgium 3-1. There was was one match with a team coming back to tie from two goals down, Czech Republic/Croatia ended 2-2. In the only match to trade goals more than two times, but with no lead changes, Portugal/Hungary ended 3-3.
The average goals scored in Copa America was 2.78 and Euro Cup was 2.08. The two finals produced an average of .50 goals per game. There was a 0-0 final in Copa America that went to penalties and a 1-0 final in Euro Cup.
Scoring goals is the crux to the problem, but to just say a 'lack of goal-scoring' alone wouldn't completely describe the problem. When we talk about why people watch sports, scoring is the biggest factor for watching or one of the biggest. It usually is a culmination of events that signifies success on the field for players and success off the field for fans. This success 'off the field' for fans can have a lot of different meanings. Scoring brings a level of satisfaction, engagement and togetherness. Overall, the effects of low-scoring games makes watching a lot less enjoyable.
The game of soccer is setup for comebacks and surprise pullout victories just like all the other popular team sports, but it is much rarer to take place than in those other sports. Teams in soccer should be able to muster the will to go ahead in a game after blowing a lead while the other team figures out how to get back to the drawing board and regain the lead again. Unpredictable events and lead changes in sports matches are dramatic and a huge part for why sports fans feel entertained while watching sports.
The game of soccer is flawed in its design with the present rules. The mastery of the game lends itself to a final scoring outcome that is undeserving when considering the skills needed to play the game at such a high level. Frankly speaking, the game needs changes because fans deserve better.
How ridiculous and how wrong can a sportswriter be than Tim Vickery of ESPN when he opened a piece on the effects of the first goal for the Copa America final between Chile and Argentina, when he wrote 'One of the most fascinating aspects of football is that, as a low-scoring game, any match has the potential to unfold in a number of different ways, often depending on who scores first.'
On another post from ESPN, Gabriele Marcoti tries to argue that the lack of scoring from Euro Cup doesn't mean there is a lack in quality for watching the games. This sportswriter absolutely forgets about the fan's perspective. He looks at the tactics for how teams play for a tie in group play or how play is until the first goal is scored or after the first goal is scored. His evaluation ignores the lack of goal-scoring and infers that teams are not scoring because they aren't used to this type of tournament play. He makes no sense.
It is this ignorance from the pundits for what is really the problem for the sport that is most frustrating. They just don't want to come to terms on the issues with goal-scoring and how to make things better and more intriguing for the game.
After seeing a lackluster Copa America final, Paul Gardner for Soccer America tried to say something about FIFA needing to change rules, but he had nothing to say about goal-scoring. Instead, his commentary was all about refereeing and how FIFA needs to do something with the rules to help the referees. He beats around the bush. I have no idea what he's trying to say other than FIFA needs to make changes. He's scared to say the truth about the lack of scoring in the sport just like so many of his colleagues writing or talking about the sport.
One of the comments for Gardner's article had this to say: "As Mark Twain said: An Englishman (replace here with FIFA) is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven't. The truth is that soccer inherently favors the defense and the game should be changed. As my wise father pointed out, 22 professionals running around on the field with the goal of putting the ball in the net should be able to do so more than once or twice a game. Watch the NFL, the most successful league in the world. They constantly tinker with the game in order to ...wait for it....MAKE IT BETTER. Look at the past ten Super Bowls. They usually EXCEED the hype. Why? Because of the rules and structure of the game. The 1982 Brazilian WC team was glorious. They ultimately we're doomed because the "beautiful game" was punished. Change the rules."
I can definitely relate to that comment. I mean, like, where are all the shots on goal. It's not just about the lack of scoring; it's about the lack of opportunity to score. There aren't enough shots and there are certainly not enough great saves from goal-keepers. Soccer has all the potential to give fans the best sports viewing/spectating experience, but it falls on its face-time and time again. 83 games can't be wrong.