Scoring Way Up In Second Games

By all accounts, the first 16 games of the World Cup were, for the most part, conservatively played. There were only 25 goals in those 16 games – an average of just over 1.5 goals per match. In those 16 games, only four times did a team score more than one goal. North Korea was the only team to score a goal in a losing effort.

I was not surprised by the opening games. As I mentioned in one of my early posts, most teams try to not lose the World Cup in their first game, as opposed to trying to win at all costs and take unnecessary chances.

So far, the second games of the group stage have featured much more scoring. There have been 13 goals in four games – an average of more than three goals per game. Teams are scoring at a rate more than twice what we saw in the first game of the group stage. I don't expect teams to keep scoring at this level, but I'm not surprised that the games have opened up a bit.

The team that is behind needs to press for a goal, which in turn leaves them vulnerable to a counter-attack. 5 of the 13 goals scored in these four games were netted in the final 15 minutes of regulation or in extra time. All five of the goals were scored by the team that was already ahead in the match.