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football | Tuesday, November 15, 2022 2:39 PM (Revised at: Tuesday, December 6, 2022 9:09 AM)

History Says.....Favourites Win Penalty Shootouts In the World Cup

History Says.....Favourites Win Penalty Shootouts In the World Cup
MB Media Solutions / Alamy Stock Photo

What is the average number of goals scored in a World Cup extra time? Are penalty shootouts a matter of luck? Do favourites win more often in penalty shootouts?

In this article:

*Data updated 6/12/2022 following Croatia’s win on penalties over Japan, World Cup 2022


World Cup Extra Time Average Goals

Extra time periods are infamous for negative football. Both teams are tiring and neither wants to surrender a fatal goal that could see them eliminated from the tournament.

But it wasn’t always the case. We can see in the table below the average number of goals scored in extra time periods World Cup by World Cup.

Table 1: Average Goals Scored in World Cup Extra Time 

Year Extra Times Total Goals Ave Goals
1930
1934 3 4 1.33
1938 6 9 1.50
1950
1954 3 2 0.67
1958 1 1 1.00
1962
1966 1 2 2.00
1970 3 7 2.33
1974
1978 1 2 2.00
1982 1 4 4.00
1986 4 3 0.75
1990 8 6 0.75
1994 4 3 0.75
1998 4 1 0.25
2002 5 3 0.60
2006 6 3 0.50
2010 4 2 0.50
2014 8 8 1.00
2018 5 3 0.60
2022* 1 0 0.00
TOTAL 68 63 0.93

Splitting the data, the table below shows average goals scored in extra time periods at World Cups both before and after the advent of the penalty shootout.

Table 2: Average Goals Scored in World Cup Extra Time before and after 1982.

Years Extra Times Ave Goals
1930 – 1978 18 1.5
1982 – 2022* 50 0.72

Prior to penalty shootouts, a tie at the end of extra time resulted in the two teams having to play a replay of the match. So there was incentive for both teams to get the job finished on the day to avoid needing to play an extra match in a limited cup tournament.

Once penalties were introduced, that incentive no longer existed.

We can see from the data that the average number of goals scored in extra time periods prior to penalties was 1.5 goals. The average number of goals halved to 0.73 once penalties was an option.

In the same time frame, from 1984 onwards, the average number of goals scored in the knockout stages of European championships was 0.69 goals.


Do Favourites Win in Extra time?

Let’s take a look at the win rates for teams in extra time based on pre-match odds.Here we are looking at data available from the 1998 World Cup onwards.

The table below shows the win rates for nations in extra time based on their pre-match Asian handicap.

Table 3: Results of World Cup extra time based on pre-match favouritism (Asian handicap line)

Handicap Matches WON DRAW LOST
-1.5 2 2 0 0
-1.25 1 1 0 0
-1 5 1 4 0
-0.5 7 2 4 1
-0.25 14 1 8 5
TOTAL* 29 7 16 6

While 19 of the 32 extra time matches went to penalties (i.e the teams remained drawn at the end of extra time), favourites won seven of the 13 matches that ended in extra time.

We can also see that nations that began the match as favourites of -0.5 goals in the Asian handicap market (essentially even money in the 1X2 market), won six of seven matches played.

We also see that nations starting as favourites -1. goals or greater, won three from three extra time periods.

Table 4: Results of European championship extra time based on pre-match favouritism (Asian handicap line)

Handicap Matches Won Draw Lost
-1.5 0 0 0 0
-1.25 0 0 0 0
-1 2 2 0 0
-0.75 5 1 2 2
-0.5 5 2 3 0
-0.25 7 0 5 2
TOTAL 19 5 10 4

Results were not as distinct in European championship extra time periods.

The table above shows that favourites in the Asian handicap market won five of nine matches with nations starting as -1 goal handicap favourites winning two from two in extra time.


World Cup Nations Extra Time Records

Of the nations competing at the 2022 World Cup, which nations have the best record in extra time?

The table below shows the results in extra time for each nation at the Qatar World Cup.

Table 5: Results of World Cup extra time for nations competing at the 2022 World Cup

Nation Extra Times ET Ave GF ET Ave GA W D L Ave Pts
Ghana 2 0.50 0.00 1 1 0 2.00
South Korea 2 0.50 0.00 1 1 0 2.00
Croatia* 4 0.50 0.25 1 3 0 1.67
Serbia 3 0.33 0.00 1 2 0 1.67
Belgium 5 0.80 0.60 2 2 1 1.60
Argentina 9 0.44 0.11 3 5 1 1.56
Cameroon 2 1.00 1.00 1 0 1 1.50
Senegal 2 0.50 0.50 1 0 1 1.50
England 10 0.40 0.20 3 5 2 1.40
Uruguay 3 0.33 0.67 1 1 1 1.33
Brazil 7 0.29 0.14 1 6 0 1.29
Germany 11 0.73 0.91 3 5 3 1.27
France 6 0.67 0.67 1 4 1 1.17
Spain 7 0.14 0.14 1 5 1 1.14
Costa Rica 2 0.00 0.00 0 2 0 1.00
Denmark 1 0.00 0.00 0 1 0 1.00
Japan* 2 0.00 0.00 0 2 0 1.00
Portugal 1 0.00 0.00 0 1 0 1.00
Mexico 3 0.00 0.33 0 2 1 0.67
Switzerland 3 0.00 0.33 0 2 1 0.67
Netherlands 6 0.00 1.00 0 3 3 0.50
USA 2 0.50 1.50 0 0 2 0.00
Poland 1 1.00 2.00 0 0 1 0.00

For purposes of comparison I have awarded ‘match points’ for each result, i.e 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw. The nations have been ranked in order of average ‘points won’ in World Cup extra time.

Ghana and South Korea have the best average points in extra time though have only played two extra times each.

Of nations that have played at least five World Cup extra times, Belgium has the best record with 1.60 points per match. Meanwhile Netherlands have the worst record, with three draws and three losses from each of their six extra time sessions.


Do Favourites Win World Cup Penalty Shootouts?

Let’s turn now to take a look at penalty shootouts. The table below shows the results in penalty shootouts based on pre-match Asian handicap lines.

Table 6: Results of World Cup penalty shootouts based on pre-match favouritism (Asian handicap line)

Handicap Shootouts Won Lost
-1 4 3 1
-0.5 4 3 1
-0.25 8 6 2
TOTAL* 16 12 4

While 19 World Cup matches have gone to penalties since 1998, only 16 of those had a favourite of at least -0.25 goals in the Asian handicap market.

Of these 16 matches, the favourites won in 12 of the penalty shootouts.

Favourites of starting as -0.5 favourites (again, essentially even money favourites) won in 6 of 8 penalty shootouts.

Table 7: Results of European championship penalty shootouts based on pre-match favouritism (Asian handicap line)

Handicap Shootouts Won Lost
-0.75 2 1 1
-0.5 3 1 2
-0.25 5 4 1
TOTAL 10 6 4

In European championships, favourites won in six of ten shootouts with a team starting the match as favourites at -0.25 goals or greater.

While we are dealing with small sample sizes, the trend suggests that penalty shootouts are not so much a matter of luck as many believe. Nations that are expected to win will generally go on to do so whether it’s normal time, extra time or a penalty shootout.


World Cup Penalty Shootout Records

Let’s now take a look at the performance of nations in this World Cup when faced with a penalty shootout. The table below shows the win loss records for each nation competing at the 2022 World Cup.

Table 8: Results of World Cup penalty shootouts for each nation competing at the 2022 World Cup

Nation Shootouts Ave Pens F Ave Pens A W L Win %
Germany 4 4.25 2.50 4 0 100.00%
Croatia* 3 3.33 2.00 3 0 100.00%
Belgium 1 5.00 4.00 1 0 100.00%
Portugal 1 3.00 1.00 1 0 100.00%
Serbia 1 3.00 2.00 1 0 100.00%
South Korea 1 5.00 3.00 1 0 100.00%
Uruguay 1 4.00 2.00 1 0 100.00%
Brazil 4 3.25 2.50 3 1 75.00%
Argentina 5 3.20 3.00 3 2 60.00%
France 4 3.75 4.00 2 2 50.00%
Costa Rica 2 4.00 3.50 1 1 50.00%
Netherlands 3 2.67 3.67 1 2 33.33%
England 4 2.75 3.50 1 3 25.00%
Spain 4 3.25 4.00 1 3 25.00%
Mexico 2 1.00 3.50 0 2 0.00%
Denmark 1 2.00 3.00 0 1 0.00%
Ghana 1 2.00 4.00 0 1 0.00%
Japan* 2 2.00 4.00 0 1 0.00%
Switzerland 1 0.00 3.00 0 1 0.00%

Yes, it’s true. Germans do well in World Cup penalty shootouts. Germany is the only nation with a perfect record with more than one penalty shootout to their credit, winning each of their four World Cup penalty shootouts.

Croatia also has a perfect record, winning both their penalty shootouts, while Brazil has won three of their four and Argentina three of their five.

Meanwhile Spain and England have each appeared in four penalty shootouts, winning one each.


Conclusion: Favourites Win Penalty Shootouts

As said previously, while we are talking small sample sizes, it appears that favourites win more often than not in both penalty shootouts and extra time. However given the small sample sizes, it could be argued this is merely an exercise in confirmation bias.

However, while inferior nations like to believe that getting to a penalty shootout enhances their chances, any improvement in their chances looks to be incidental if at all.

Quality wins, even during the stress of a World Cup extra time or penalty shootout.


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