World Cup Goal Totals And Penalty Shoot-Out Statistics
How does the stage of the tournament impact World Cup goal totals? And are penalty shoot-outs really a lottery? Today Cassini delivers his analysis of World Cup goal totals and penalty shoot-outs.
Format And Impact On Goal Totals
The current format of 8 groups of four teams and a knockout stage for the last 16 teams has been in place since 1998, which gives us just four previous tournaments of data from which to consider World Cup match goal totals.
Group Stage Opening Round
Conventional wisdom has it that the opening matches in group play are tight affairs, with matches opening up as the group stage continues, and the evidence shows that this is true. Bearing in mind that the small sample size means no serious conclusions should be drawn, some interesting observations are detailed here.
The opening matches see an average of 2.3 goals per game, a number inflated by Germany’s 8-0 win over Saudi Arabia in 2002, and their (Germany’s) opening match 4-2 defeat of Costa Rica four years later. A couple of matches have ended 3-2 but the most likely score by some distance is 1-0, a result which has occurred in more than one quarter of matches 26.6% and an implied price of 3.76.
2-0 occurs 15.6% of the time, followed by the 1-1 (10.9%) and 0-0 / 2-1 (9.4%). 28.1% of opening group matches end as draws (3.56).
Group Stage Second Round
In the second round of group matches, the goals come a little more easily, with the average up to 2.44. 1-0 and 1-1 are the most frequent scores (12 each, 18.8%), followed by the 2-0 and 2-1 (8 each, 12.5%). The frequency of draws is up slightly at 31.25%.
Group Stage Third Round
The increase in goals continues into the third round, with an average of 2.67 goals per game. 2-1 is now the most likely score, (11, 17.2%) just ahead of 1-0 and 2-0. The higher goals per game totals mean a decline in draws to 26.6%.
Round of 16
Once the knockout stages are reached, it is probably not surprising that, with avoiding defeat the priority, the average goals declines to 2.25 per game in the Round of 16. As with the opening round of matches, the most frequent score is 1-0, (25%), followed by 1-1 (15.6%) and 2-1 (12.5%). In the last four Rounds of 16, six matches (one or two in each tournament) have been lop-sided, with half of those wins by Brazil:
|1998||Brazil v Chile||4-1|
|1998||Denmark v Nigeria||4-1|
|2002||England v Denmark||3-0|
|2006||Brazil v Ghana||3-0|
|2010||Brazil v Chile||3-0|
|2010||Germany v England||4-1|
The Round of 16 for the most part sees closely fought matches. Nine in total, and at least two in each tournament, have gone to extra-time, and four of those to penalties.
With the occasional exception, notable 2002, the weaker teams have usually been eliminated by this stage, and the matches become even more defensive and closer with the final just two matches away. The average goals per game drops below 2 to 1.94, and the exceptions were:
|1998||Croatia v Germany||3-0|
|2006||Italy v Ukraine||3-0|
|2010||Germany v Argentina||4-0|
The remaining 13 matches in the small sample have all been decided by one goal or penalties. Six matches went to extra-time - four games (25%) finished 0-0, while 2 ended 1-1 (12.5%). Three each have finished 1-0 or 2-1 (18.75%) and the other result was a 3-2.
Of the six matches going to extra-time, five went to penalties, the exception being Turkey’s Golden Goal win versus Senegal in 2002, a rule that is of course no longer in effect.
As you might have guessed by now, the goals per game average at the semi-final stage is even lower, at just 1.75. Eight matches is a miniscule sample of course, but none have been decided by more than one goal in 90 minutes.
1-0 is again the most common score (50%), while two ties went to extra-time – one 0-0 and one 1-1. A 2-1 and a 3-2 complete the sample, the latter inflating the goals per game average significantly (from 1.29).
The 1.75 goals per game average continues here, a number inflated by France’s 3-0 defeat of Brazil in 1998. Two of the four finals have gone to extra-time, one to penalties, and the other was Brazil’s 2-0 defeat of Germany in 2002.
That the third-place play-off is a meaningless game is supported by the fact that an average of 4.25 goals per game are scored. Two games have ended 3-2, one 3-1 and the lowest scoring was 2-1.
With the big prize gone, this game is often used as an opportunity for supporting players to be given a place in the starting line-ups, and there is a care-free attitude about the proceedings. The difference between finishing third and fourth is $22 million versus $20 million, an amount that is pennies to most national teams.
Best Bookmakers For World Cup Goal Total Betting
If you're looking for the lowest bookmaker commission, the top four bookmakers for World Cup goal total betting are:
World Cup Penalty Shoot-Out Statistics
The only conclusion to be drawn from the eleven penalty shootouts of 1998 and later is that South American countries have a good record, having won 4 of 5. No country has won more than one, and it will come as no surprise to many readers of this article that the only country to have lost more than one penalty shootout in this time is… England!
World Cup Penalty Shoot-Out History
|Year||Teams||Fulltime Result||Shootout Result|
|1982||Wst Germany v France||3-3||5-4|
|1986||France v Brazil||1-1||4-3|
|1986||Belgium v Spain||1-1||5-4|
|1986||Wst Germany v Mexico||0-0||4-1|
|1990||Ireland v Romania||0-0||5-4|
|1990||Argentina v Yugoslavia||0-0||3-2|
|1990||Argentina v Italy||1-1||4-3|
|1990||Wst Germany v England||1-1||4-3|
|1994||Bulgaria v Mexico||1-1||3-1|
|1994||Sweden v Romania||2-2||5-4|
|1994||Brazil v Italy||0-0||3-2|
|1998||Argentina v England||2-2||4-3|
|1998||France v Italy||0-0||4-3|
|1998||Brazil v Netherlands||1-1||4-2|
|2002||Spain v Ireland||1-1||3-2|
|2002||Sth Korea v Spain||0-0||5-3|
|2006||Ukraine v Switzerland||0-0||3-0|
|2006||Germany v Argentina||1-1||4-2|
|2006||Portugal v England||0-0||3-1|
|2006||Italy v France||1-1||5-3|
|2010||Paraguay v Japan||0-0||5-3|
|2010||Uruguay v Ghana||1-1||4-2|
Nation by Nation Penalty Shoot-Out Table
World Cup Penalty Shoot-Out Success Rate
Betting On Penalty Shoot-Outs
It's often said that the penalty shoot-out is a lottery, with each team essentially a fair chance to win. But if we look at odds for matches that ended in a penalty shoot-outs from 1998 to 2010, we see that the team that was favoured to win the game pre-match has won the shoot-out on 8 of 11 occasions, with the average pre-match odds of the winning team 2.66 as opposed to the losing team at 3.36.
In fact if we consider all matches that extended into extra-time from 1998 to 2010, the pre-match favourites won 12 of 19 matches either in extra-time or on penalties, with the average pre-match odds of the winning team at 2.69 opposed to the losing team at 3.84. Also worth noting that every team that began odds-on to win pre-match were eventual victors in either extra-time or on penalties.
Miscellaneous Penalty Trivia
The team shooting first has won 13 of the 22 (59%) penalty shoot-outs.
Only two of the 22 shoot-outs have needed extra penalties after the original five attempts each.
The first ever penalty shootout (West Germany – France) in 1982 needed one extra round of penalties, as did the Sweden - Romania match in 1994.
For more great betting analysis for the 2014 World Cup, check the World Cup Betting Analysis page in our World Cup betting guide.
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