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Will EURO 2024 Spark a Renaissance in Long Range Goals in the Premier League?

Pep Guardiola and xG. The two protagonists for the dearth of goals from long shots in the Premier League.

The Manchester City boss has long instructed his players – as he did at Barcelona and Bayern Munich before – to only shoot from long distance if absolutely unavoidable; coaching his team to work clearer cut shooting opportunities closer to goal.

And the rise of Expected Goals (xG), the stat which measures the quality of goalscoring opportunities, has also created a philosophy of getting the ball as close to goal as possible before pulling the trigger.

But then EURO 2024 came along and blew all of that out of the water…

Pulling the Trigger

What’s interesting about long-range goals is that they, in essence, give an underdog a greater chance of winning.

The trend saw some of the EUROs games odds tighten up, with sides like Slovakia, Slovenia and Georgia given more respect by the bookmakers than they might otherwise have been.

Of course, many of the EURO 2024 betting tips were still handing authority to favourites like England, France and host nation Germany, but the increased efficiency of the underdogs in shooting – and scoring – from long range certainly gave the tournament an unexpected dynamic.

According to the data, the opening five days and 12 games of EURO 2024 saw eleven goals scored from shots taken outside of the penalty area.

That ratio of nearly one potshot goal-per-game is remarkable in itself, but in the context of other major international tournaments the numbers become even more revealing – after 12 days of EURO 2024, some 32.4% of goals scored have come from long range… compared to just 13.4% for the entirety of EURO 2020.

What’s particularly interesting is that the actual number of shots being taken from long range hasn’t increased much – if at all. Around 40% of all shots in the opening 12 games of EURO 2024 came from 20 yards or more; compared to 37.3% at EURO 2020 and 46.7% at EURO 2016.

There are the perils of working with small numbers, but a tentative conclusion we can make is that players are getting more efficient in shooting with speed and accuracy from distance – hence the rise in the number of spectacular goals being scored.

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

It will be interesting to see if this EUROs trend continues on to the domestic campaign of 2024/25.

One thing that is for sure: long-distance shooting in the Premier League has, for the most part, become a forgotten art.

During the 2023/24 season, the farthest average shot distance in the EPL was 17.7 yards from goal (Burnley), while the shortest was 15.6 yards (Brentford). The xG data supports the notion that getting the ball closer to goal before shooting is rewarded with a higher quality of chance created – Brentford and Newcastle United, who ranked first and second for shortest shot distance, also sat third and first respectively for xG per shot.

What does it all mean? You probably won’t see players suddenly shooting from anywhere on the pitch – the data shows that the closer to goal a shot is taken, the more likely it is to result in a goal… common sense, if you think about it.

But the odd moment of magic from distance can settle individual games… the majestic goals of EURO 2024 taught us that.

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