The Euros may be over, but we jump into which players saw the biggest momentum on social media and who drove the biggest stories.

With Portugal defeating France, UEFA Euro 2016 has come to a close. The football fields may empty, the soccer balls put away, but the chatter lives on with social media. And some champions remain to be crowned, like the top players of the Euros.
Using NewsWhip data, we calculated the total number of Facebook interactions across likes, shares, and comments for stories that had these player names as keywords.
Here are the players who won the 2016 Euros on social media.
top UEFA 2016 players final
Cristiano Ronaldo remained at the top of the rankings, keeping his place from when we looked at the players halfway through the Euros. Luka Modric and Gareth Bale kept second and third place respectively.
NewsWhip Analytics Euro Players engagement
(This NewsWhip Analytics graph shows when players saw the biggest jump in Facebook shares. Click for full size image.)
Their star power from being with Real Madrid kept their engagement strong through the Euros. This engagement skyrocketed as the tournament reached the final matches, more than just doubling for the second half.
Euro players percent increase
As we can see from the above chart, Cristiano Ronaldo’s engagements from the entire Euros versus the halfway point, were 587 percent larger. Luka Modric and Gareth Bale’s were both over 250 percent bigger.
Ronaldo’s dramatic uptick in engagements makes sense as he was in the games until the end, as Portugal’s star player, until an injury took him out of the final match. This in itself sparked social engagement. Any news about a soccer star, is still news.
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A moth flying on Cristiano’s face drove over 50 articles about the incident. The above story saw over 16,000 Facebook engagements.

Which players saw the most drastic change in engagements?

The most impressive data in the above chart is Will Grigg’s huge jump in engagement. Grigg’s engagements from the total duration of the Euros versus the midway point, leapt an insane 1,755 percent.
Somehow, Will Grigg became a viral hit ahead of the games, with a chant that echoed through stadiums, ‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’. This led to articles being written both about the chant, and asking other players like Mats Hummels of Germany if they were now terrified of Grigg.


Manuel Neuer also saw a huge boost in the rankings (nearly 1,200 percent!), for his own performance in the Euros and his renown as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world.

Who rose and who fell in the rankings?

We can see some other changes in our rankings. Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba rose up on chart.
Griezmann won player of the tournament and had a great second half, so it’s no surprise that his name saw soars in engagement.
Pogba’s engagement can be derived from France making it to the finals and his own performance in the game, along with transfer rumors of whether he’d be returning to Manchester United.
Pogba
This article from Manchester Evening News saw nearly 35,000 Facebook engagements. 
Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was third in our rankings half through the Euros, fell to sixth place. Engagement for Ibrahimovic tapered off as Sweden was knocked out in the group stages and he retired from the national team.
Jamie Vardy also dropped in engagement after England was defeated by Iceland, and Vardy himself didn’t see much game time.

What were the biggest stories?

top articles Euro players
Goal claims six of the top ten articles, making sense as the site focuses entirely on soccer. This has been their time to shine recently, with both the Euros and Copa America going on. In our most recent sports publisher rankings, Goal came out on top.
ESPN FC article
Despite that, the above ESPN article was the most engaging content, with over 102,000 Facebook engagements.
Team-centric websites like Manchester Evening News and Chelsea FC also appear in the top ten articles, as proof of their fans’ fervor.
While Chelsea FC was reporting on Eden Hazard bringing Belgium into the top eight, Manchester Evening News was already looking ahead to the next Premier League season with hopes of Paul Pogba’s move to the team.
And as to be expected Cristiano Ronaldo accounted for six of the headlines here, and 19 of the top 30 articles.
From game performance analyses/predictions, interviews with him and teammates, to philanthropic acts, Cristiano supplies a well-rounded motley of stories here. His name gives a boost of engagement wherever it appears.
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This article about Ronaldo meeting some young fans before the semifinal drove over 37,000 Facebook engagements.

The content trends around Euros stars

How did the top content around these players break down by the end of the Euros?
When we looked previously, we found that 20 percent of the top 25 articles contributed to gossipy stories about the star players, while over a third revved up some pre-game hype. We also saw satire spark some shares.
This time, things were a little more serious as the games heated up.
euro 2016 content trends
Behind the scenes articles, such as insights into what players were saying to each other and doing outside of the field, accounted for 40 percent of the top 30 articles.
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Articles that focused on analyzing players or making predictions about them, drove almost 27 percent of the top 30 articles. Articles on games accounted for 23 percent, and more in-depth analyses drove six percent.

What to remember for sports content

As this the 2016 Euros buzz calms down, sports publishers, marketers, and social teams alike can glean some insights from the stories that drove the most engagement.
For some athletes, just their name can propel enormous engagement, like Ronaldo, Bale, and Modric. The fans of these athletes closely are heavily invested in stories about the soccer stars. Any behind the scenes info, whether interviews or off-field deeds, can satiate the curiosity of fans.

Looking for more insights? Check out our latest sports on social whitepaper

Reports on games, predictions, and data-fueled analyses drive engagement by letting sports fans become experts themselves.
Sports fans are zealous about their passion. The more quality content out there, the more opportunity for killer engagement as they get excited about their favorite sports, teams, and players.

Curious about the biggest sports trends? Take a free trial of Spike and discover the biggest sports stories now

 

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