The World Cup group stage draws to a close on Friday – but what has been Qatar’s success so far?
Were those scoreless first innings special?
In total, 24 of the club’s 48 games ended without a goal at halftime.
To understand this, this is eight percent more than the previous World Cup since 2002.
Perhaps the most notable trend at this World Cup has been stoppage time – lots of it. The players added 563 minutes in the group stage – that’s more than nine hours, or six games of regular time.
England took part in the longest game in their 6-2 win over Iran, with 27 minutes added to the standard 90 – the best extra time in the group.
They are killing giants
Another trend so far has been big disappointments, with underdogs often defeating the Goliaths of world football. Quantifying the number of disappointments is difficult. However, by using FIFA’s global rankings we can use a scale model.
Using these rankings, Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 win over Argentina will be the most difficult World Cup so far, with the Middle Eastern side sitting at the bottom of the FIFA table with 48 points.
Cameroon won 1-0 against Brazil (-42) followed by Ghana’s 3-2 win over South Korea (-33), Australia 1-0 Denmark (-28), Tunisia 1-0 France (-26), Belgium 0 -2 Morocco (-20), South Korea 2-1 Portugal (-19), Japan 2-1 Spain (-17) and Germany 1-2 Japan (-13).
Scoreless at halftime, low scores?
Let’s use this in order. First: shooting. As is the case in the Premier League, the number of shots is decreasing, which is due to a greater emphasis on patient motivation and showing better scoring opportunities.
In Qatar, we have averaged 22 shots per game, which is the lowest we have recorded from our records.
Unsurprisingly, the same limitation applies to shots on target, with at least eight per game this winter.
However, when it comes to actual goals scored, this World Cup is among them – at least in six tournaments since 2002 – a testament to the patience of the game to create good angles on goals.
As for the players, Marcus Rashford is tied for three goals by Kylian Mbappe, Alvaro Morata, Cody Gakpo and Enner Valencia – but the Manchester United striker is the standout among those who played just 107 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands and Manchester United who want to exchange Gakpo has fired every shot on target, while Valencia also showed clinical with only four correct attempts before Ecuador entered Group A.
Tiki-taka is back!
Pass-masters Spain are showing tiki-taka and Luis Enrique’s side have recorded 2,489 group stage wins in Qatar – that’s 735 more than any other team.
As the chart below shows, there have been almost 800 passes per match at this World Cup – continuing a 20-year upward trend. Of course, the long suspension has contributed to the increase this year.
Spanish midfielder Rodri leads the way with the longest pass – almost 153 from the leading passer, John Stones. However, Spain’s Pedri and Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul and Lionel Messi are at the top of the distribution in the final third.
The negatives and reds are decreasing
Perhaps the highlight of Qatar’s group stage was the only two red cards shown in 48 games.
In explaining this, one reason for the drop in penalties seems to be the number of fouls that are occurring, about 24 per game – the fewest since our records began.
The number of yellow cards was the lowest in 2014. This year, it remains at an average of just three per game.
But, in terms of elimination, unsurprisingly, the competition has a very low ratio with two reds equaling only 0.04 per game.
Wales international Wayne Hennessey and Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar were the only players on the scoresheet – the former was sent off after Mehdi Taremi was sent off in the 84th minute before his replacement, Danny Ward, scored twice in a 2-0 defeat to Iran. .
Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries and Tunisian forward Issam Jebali were the ones to commit the fouls – each making 10, while 14 players received two yellows in Qatar.
At the moment England are recording a huge number of points, which we have been recording since Italy ’90. Southgate’s side have scored 66 percent, which is more than 10 percent higher than their most recent campaign in 2010.
They also have three goals in every game – boosted by their 6-2 win over Iran, which doubles their previous World Cup tally in the last 32 years. Additionally, their xG ratio has been on the rise since the turn of the millennium, now hitting 1.77 per game.
England have also pushed higher, passing routes that start at 47.8m from their goal line which is almost four meters higher than in 2018 and is behind only Germany in the tournament in Qatar.
England to face Senegal on Sunday | France or Poland in the QFs? Spain in SFs?
England face Senegal in the last 16 of the World Cup on Sunday after qualifying from Group B.
The game kicks off at 7pm UK time on December 4.
England’s path to the World Cup finals has now been set following the conclusion of their group stage.
If Gareth Southgate’s side progress Senegalwill play the winners of Group D on Saturday 10th December France or Group C final Poland.
Had they reached the semi-finals, England would have been on Wednesday December 14, where their arch-rivals were. Morocco, Spain, Portugal or Switzerland.