Half way through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and we’re on course for a record breaking tournament. No I don’t mean not the record for being the most protested World Cup ever nor the one for having more green paint than grass on the pitches. Not even the record for having the smuggest, most untrustworthy, 1950s throw-back FIFA president of all time. I’m just talking about goals people.
32 games in and we’ve seen 94 goals. With 32 games to go you don’t need to be a maths genius to work out numbers. At the current rate of 2.9375 goals per game we’re on course for a record breaking 188 goals, breaking the previous record of 171 goals scored during the 1998 World Cup in France.
In fact it could be more. At this stage in 1998, the first tournament to include 32 nations, just 78 goals were scored. 45% of the final total. If the same percentages were to apply to this tournament, with 55% of the goals total coming in the final 32 games, we would be set for a 208 goal haul in Brazil. One of Pele’s little blue pills couldn’t get us more excited.
It’s not just the sheer number of goals that has made this tournament so enjoyable so far but also the consistency across the games. Of the first 32 games played, 22 have had three or more goals scored (69%).
Compare this to the first 32 games of the previous four tournaments:
- France 1998: 15 games (46%)
- South Korea and Japan 2002: 13 (40%)
- Germany 2006: 13 (40%)
- South Africa 2010: 9 (28%)
Of course the advantage is that this is only the fifth World Cup in which 32 teams take part and 64 total games are played. From 1982 to 1994 there were 24 teams and 52 games. The first eleven World Cups had 16 participants or less with a varying number of games.
We may be set to see a record breaking goals total but it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see the record for average goals per game beaten. The 1954 tournament in Switzerland had a ridiculous average of over 5 goals per game, 5.38 to be a little more exact. The four games in Germany’s group finished 4-1, 9-0, 8-3 and 7-0. The German’s then had to play-off against Turkey to get in to the knock-out stages and won 7-2. In the quarter-finals Austria beat Switzerland 7-5 before going on to lose to Germany 6-1 in the semi-finals.