The World Cup is now 12 matches old and the Nuggets are piling up with more facts and stats than you can shake a stick at. Keep coming back for your daily dose.
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23 November ANOTHER STALEMATE
Morocco and Croatia served up the third goalless draw in two days, matching the record of 24th and 25th June 2010 when Paraguay New Zealand, Portugal Brazil and Switzerland Honduras all followed each other in quick scoreless succession. There have already been three times the number of scoreless ,matches in the first nine matches than in entire tournament in 2018.
Germany’s loss to Japan was the second consecutive time they have lost their opening World Cup match, in 2018 they lost 1-0 to Mexico. Before those two reverses their record in opening matches between 1990 and 2014 was pretty impressive – Played 7 Won 7 Goals For 27 Goals Against 3.
Spain oozed class in their 7-0 shellacking of Costa Rica, with Gavi the shining light as he became not only their youngest ever player at a World Cup but also almost inevitably their youngest ever scorer. The only cloud on Spain’s horizon is that they might have gone a bit early – since 1954 only one team has gone on to win the title having recorded the highest ever win at the group stages, which was West Germany in 1990 who beat UAE 5 -1.
Canada’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium means that they set the record for the longest run without a goal since debut. Having made their debut in 1986 this was their fourth goalless match on the trot, all other scoreless teams have played three matches – Zaire 1974, China 2002 and Trinidad & Tobago 2006 apart from Dutch East Indies who played one match in 1938, losing 6-0 to Hungary, before being eliminated.
22 November ARGENTINA HUMBLED
Argentina’s capitulation against the might of 51st-ranked Saudi Arabia is considered as not just one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history but, in many eyes, THE biggest. Additionally, it was Argentina’s first loss against an Asian country after four wins against South Korea (2), Japan and Iran. Lose to Mexico on Saturday and Lionel Messi will be leaving Roger Milla’s Last Chance Saloon through the Fire Exit.
When Denmark and Tunisia failed to score it was the first goalless match for 31 matches since France against none other than Denmark on 26 June 2018. The very next match between Mexico and Poland was also goalless, thus instantly doubling the number of 0-0s from the previous tournament and 2022 is on course to beat the record of seven goalless draws in a tournament.
France sent out a strong message that they were not going to go down the rocky route that four former champions have in the last five World Cups, who limped out at the Group stage, a trend started by France themselves in 2002. Les Bleus’ 4-1 victory over a game but limited Australia was their third consecutive win in their opening match and they look set fair for a strong defence of their title.
21 November ENGLAND DOMINANT
England recorded their highest ever win in an opening World Cup game by hammering Iran 6-2. To add a little more shine to the performance all five goal-scorers notched their first World Cup goals – Bellingham, Saka (2), Sterling, Rashford and Grealish.
DUTCH OPENING STRENGTH
By beating Senegal with two late goals, the Netherlands emphasised what strong starters they are at World Cups. This was their seventh of their last nine consecutive in opening matches, having drawn the other two.
WELSH DRAW INSPIRATION
Wales’ comeback against USA secured by Gareth Bale’s late penalty was their fourth draw in six World Cup matches. In those six matches The Red Dragons have scored the same number of goals as they have conceded with five each.
20 November QATAR MAROONED
The match between Qatar and Ecuador was about as one-sided as it gets. In losing 2-0 Qatar became the first World Cup host to lose their opening match. They are only the third host to concede two goals in an opening match after Japan drew 2-2 with Belgium in 2002 and in the next tournament in 2006 when Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2.