So the Group matches are over and we have had plenty of shocks to the system including the downing of several strong contenders – Belgium, Denmark and Germany – is this the end of European dominance of the last four World Cups?
Here are SEVEN Nuggets from the 48 matches so far:-
- RED CARDS – Wayne Hennessey’s clumsy high tackle on Medhi Taremi has been the solitary sending-off of the tournament (discounting Paulo Bento’s post-match red after frank exchange of views with Anthony Taylor). With no outfield player yet dismissed this could be the first World Cup without one since 1970 when not one player was given a red card. Ironically red cards were introduced for the 1970 tournament.
- HAT-TRICKS – Despite a steady flow of thirteen braces, there still has not been a hat-trick. Of those 13 players who have scored twice eight have been substituted. 2006 is the only World Cup where there was not a single hat-trick scored, might 2022 be heading that way?
- GOALLESS GLUTTONS – There have been no hat-tricks but plenty of goalless draws with six already and only one more to match the overall record of seven. England sit proudly at the top of the list, the USA stalemate was their twelfth and no other side has more than eight.
- SECOND HALF GLUT – The disproportionate number of goals scored in the second half of matches is striking. Of the total number of 120, 77 have come after half-time or 64%. By contrast in Premier League this season only slightly more goals have come in the second half.
- OWN GOALS – the 100th goal of 2022 came in the Morocco Canada match and it was also the first own goal and only goal that Morocco have conceded so far. Germany’s unexpected exit came from the rather clumsy hands of Manuel Neuer who was ‘credited’ with the only other own goal.
- NOT 100% – Brazil’s defeat to Cameroon ensured that no side had a 100% record from the Group stage. This is the first time this has happened since the World Cup was expanded to 32 countries back in 1998.
- MESSI RECORD – If Argentina do go all the way to the final and Lionel Messi plays in their four matches he will overtake Lothar Matthaus as the leading appearance maker in what would be his 26th match. Also worth noting that neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo have ever scored in a World Cup knock-out match.
There’s also a handy auditory round-up of all sorts of Nuggets in a podcast with the usual suspects, Rob and Adam plus a very special guest, Kate Mason – https://bit.ly/3us3PT7
That’s all for now.