The pacing and styles of play between Euro 2024 and Copa America 2024 have shown significant differences. An X sports data analyst looked at how the two tournaments differed in terms of passing as well. This can be attributed to several factors. For example, play styles, physicality, officiating, environmental conditions and even the dimensions of the pitches play a role.

While ball-in-play time would ideally quantify the pacing of matches, pass volume provides a reasonable heuristic. However, the relationship between pass volume and match pacing can be counterintuitive. For instance, high pass volumes, as seen in Euro 2024, often reflect slow, possession-based play. Nonetheless, lower pass volumes in Copa America 2024 may indicate a more direct and physical style of play.

For instance, in the 2024 European Championship match between Italy and Albania, the passing frequency was 12.2 per minute. Whereas, in the match between Ecuador and Jamaica, it was 6.1 per minute, which is twice as low. Also, Italy completed 809 passes against Albania’s 372, while Ecuador completed 275 passes compared to Jamaica’s 332.

Compared to the Euro, the Copa does not have much more extra time; mainly because of fewer fouls and dead-ball situations. Added time in both tournaments offers insights into match intensity and interruptions:

The first period of added time in Euro 2024 is 1.58 minutes, while in Copa America, it is 2.75 minutes. On the other hand, the second period added time in Euro is 4.62 minutes, and in Copa America, it’s 4.71 minutes. Despite slight differences in added time, this does not fully explain the observed pacing variations.

Euro 2024 and Copa America differ in quality for several reasons

However, the distinct play styles between the tournaments significantly influence the pacing. Passing at Euro 2024 is short, deliberate, and focused on maintaining possession. Teams often prioritize ball control and tactical positioning, leading to higher pass counts but slower match tempo. End-to-end play, more physicality, and risk-taking mark this edition of the Copa America. This results in fewer successful passes but a higher perceived pace and intensity.

Several environmental conditions also play a crucial role. For example, the quality of the pitches in Copa America 2024 has been subpar, affecting the flow of the game. In addition, the average temperature in the USA is about 10 degrees hotter than in Europe, leading to less off-ball movement. This results in more 50/50 challenges, long passes, and increased fouls, contributing to a different match rhythm.

Difference in pitch dimensions

The size of the pitches in Copa America 2024, being smaller than standard FIFA dimensions, also likely impacts the game dynamics. COMNEBOL’s minimum pitch size of 100 meters by 64 meters, compared to FIFA’s standard 105 meters by 68 meters, leads to more closely fought matches. Teams can defend compactly and transition quickly to counter-attacks.

Smaller pitches reduce the space for possession-based play and favor direct, physical soccer. Brazil coach Dorival Junior highlighted this and also pointed out that the smaller dimensions facilitate quicker transitions and more intensive play.

The selection of venues for Copa America 2024 has faced criticism for not meeting optimal pitch dimensions. Many stadiums hosting the tournament are primarily designed for American football, leading to deviations from standard soccer pitch sizes. This has tactical implications and affects the overall pacing of the matches.

Looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup, also to be co-held in the USA, stadiums will need to adhere to FIFA’s standard pitch dimensions. This will require substantial modifications, including the removal of certain seating areas, to accommodate a 105×68 meter playing field.


Euro 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Euros!
Euro Bracket: Download a free PDF bracket for the tournament
Euro 2024 Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Euro games live in 2024
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer