Peter Goldstein

Peter Goldstein is a professor at Juniata College in Pennsylvania in the USA. He has been World Cup crazy since 1966. He will share his views about the past, present and future of this event.

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World Cup 2002 -- Statistics (Part 2)

    This is the second of two statistical articles on Korea/Japan 2002. Last time we looked at overall goals; now we're going to cover group stage matters, disciplinary records, and a few miscellaneous items. Here again I've drawn on the earlier articles "The group stage, an analysis (1)" and "The group stage, an analysis (2)", and once more I have the assistance of the amazing incredible Joe Thomas.

    Two quick notes. First, in Part 1, a couple of days ago, I asked whether anyone knew of a penalty rebound goal previous to Hernan Crespo's in 2002. Eugenio Vargas, citing the excellent site, notes that there appears to have been only one other penalty rebound goal, all the way back in 1930. So for the moment, that looks like the answer. Thanks, Eugenio! Second, an embarrassing omission: Oliver Bierhoff also belongs on the list of players who scored headers in three different games. It's embarrassing because he was part of the answer to an earlier trivia quiz on this site!

    Now let's start with the group stage. Group B, including Spain, Paraguay, South Africa, and Slovenia, did themselves proud, scoring 22 goals, the highest total since 1982. In addition, it was the first group since 1958 to have 5 of 6 games in which the teams combined for at least 4 goals. Spain gets a special notice here; they became the first team since Portugal 1966 to score at least 3 goals in all three of their group stage games. In fact, Spain 2002 and Portugal 1966 both scored exactly 3 goals in all 3 games, a feat also managed by Paraguay 1958, who got stuck in the highest scoring group of all time (31 goals) and didn't even qualify for the next round. (Joe Thomas also notes that Brazil had 3 goals by halftime in two of their group stage games; the only other team to do so was the Magnificent Magyars of 1954.)

    At the other end of the spectrum there was group F, with Sweden, England, Argentina, and Nigeria. Originally styled the Group of Death, it wound up as the Group of Barrenness, producing only 9 goals in 6 games. Before the tournament I predicted that group G, with Mexico, Italy, Croatia, and Ecuador, would score the fewest goals (it came in as the second lowest, with 12). But in my prediction I had forgotten The Great England Jinx. In one of the earlier columns we saw that over the years England's group stage games had produced fewer goals than anyone's, fewer even than Italy's. Well, England came through again: with only 3 goals in 3 games, they tied with France for lowest in the tournament. But England also seems to have a draining effect on anyone who comes close: for a remarkable fourth straight time, England's group produced the fewest goals of all. So if England qualifies for Germany 2006, you know where to put your money.

    From teams that score few to teams that score a lot: Brazil and Germany both scored 11 goals in the group stage. This was only 1 below the all-time record of 12, held jointly by Hungary 1982 and Poland 1974. It was also an all-time record for both teams; neither had scored more than 10 in the group stage before. Brazil's 11 was particularly striking, because, as noted in the previous columns, Brazil's group stage games have historically been relatively low-scoring. This was, amazingly, the very first time Brazil had led or tied for the lead in goals scored during the group stage. In the past, their knockout games contained most of the goals, but here, the group stage (3 games, 11 Brazil goals, 14 total goals) easily outstripped the knockout rounds (4 games, 7 Brazil goals, 8 total goals).

    Germany's 1 goal allowed in the group stage was not all that remarkable (a number of teams have allowed 0, including Germany themselves in 1978). But their 1 goal allowed up until the Final tied for the all-time best, along with Holland 1974 and England 1966.

    Let's go now to group stage winners. For the second consecutive tournament, both teams in the Final were group winners. This is actually quite remarkable; it hadn't happened twice in a row since 1966-70. As noted in an earlier column, lengthening the tournament has encouraged teams to pace themselves, and so since 1974, only about half the teams in the Final have been group winners. On a related note, Brazil 2002 became only the third team out of 16 to win all their group stage games and manage to reach the Final. To top the feat, as Paul Marcuccitti has pointed out, they became the first team ever to win 7 of 7.

    In the earlier columns we saw that in recent years, the stronger defensive teams have had a slight advantage over the stronger attacking teams in the group stage. This was also true in 2002. No less than 7 out of 8 teams that allowed the fewest goals in their group, or tied for the fewest, wound up on top. The exception was England, who allowed the fewest goals in group F, but finished second to Sweden. On the other hand, only 6 out of 8 teams that scored the most goals, or tied for the most, won their groups. Belgium scored the most in group H, but finished behind Japan. And Portugal, who scored the most goals outright in group D, didn't even qualify. That's only the fourth time that's ever happened, the others being Hungary 1982, Russia 1994, and Spain 1998. Note that those are all fairly recent occurrences, which is in line with the trend for stronger defensive teams to have the advantage in the group stage.

    Along these lines, here's a really obscure stat. Look at the standings in group E:

P GF GA Germany 7 11 1 Ireland 5 5 2 Cameroon 4 4 3 Saudi Arabia 0 0 12
    Notice that the teams placed 1-4 were also ranked 1-4 in goals scored, and 1-4 in goals allowed, without any ties. You'd think this would have happened more often, but in fact it's only the second time out of 64 groups since the modern group stage was introduced. The other was in 1966, when Portugal, Hungary, Brazil, and Bulgaria turned the same trick.

    In the earlier analysis we saw that the most common score for a group winner was two wins and a draw. This held true for 2002, in which 5 of the 8 group winners (Denmark, South Korea, Germany, Mexico, Japan) wound up with two wins and a draw. None of them needed goal difference to win, which means now that 25 out of 29 times, two wins and a draw has been enough to win the group outright.

    Two group winners (Brazil and Spain) won all their games, which of course means they didn't need goal difference. One group winner (Sweden) had a win and two draws. Sweden needed goal difference to win their group, which means that since the 3-1-0 system was introduced, both teams that won their group with a win and two draws needed goal difference. On a related note, in the earlier article we saw that teams with a win and two draws had slightly less than a 1 in 3 chance of winning the group. They did somewhat worse in 2002, winning only 1 in 5. Sweden won, but Ireland, Senegal, England, and Belgium all finished second.

    As for advancing to the second round, the earlier article showed that before 2002, a win and two draws (or two wins and a loss) had been sufficient to finish first or second fully 48 out of 52 times. The trend continued, as all 5 teams with that score (Sweden, Ireland, Senegal, England, and Belgium) advanced. It was also noted that teams with one win, one draw, and one loss had managed to finish first or second 44.7% of the time. This time around, there were 8 teams with that set of results; 4 of them (Paraguay, Turkey, Italy, USA) advanced, 4 did not (Argentina, Cameroon, South Africa, and Costa Rica). The 50% total was thus close to the average.

    Now to some more stuff on group stage winners. Germany and Brazil continued their group stage domination, both notching their 9th group stage win out of 12. Denmark gets a mention here for winning their second group in only 3 tries (that may not sound like much, but Argentina has won only 2 groups in 11 tournaments!). Nigeria, formerly 2 out of 2 in group stage wins, finished last, which leaves East Germany as the only team ever to win the group stage every time they participated (once). Mexico won their third group stage, their first outside of North America. Japan and South Korea became the first Asian teams to win their groups, although of course they had the home advantage. And speaking of home advantage, Sweden won their group in 1958, and a mere 44 years later did it for the first time away from home.

    At the other end of the standings, 3 of the 4 debutantes (Ecuador, China, and Slovenia) finished last in their groups, which means that 17 out of the 26 teams that have played in only one group stage have finished last. Poland finished last for the first time in 5 appearances. Slovenia and France also finished last, meaning 3 of 8 groups had European teams in last place, the highest percentage since the tournament expanded in 1982. The most ignominious failure was, of course, France, who became only the second European team to fail to score a goal in the group stage. (The other was that dreadful Greece team of 1994.) Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's 0-12 GF/GA was the worst since Zaire's celebrated 0-14 flameout in 1974.

    Now to qualifications. Turkey was appearing in its second World Cup, but only its first modern group stage, and managed to qualify for the second round. Senegal did so as well. This makes the fourth straight tournament in which a group stage debutante has qualified (Costa Rica and Ireland in 1990, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia in 1994, Croatia (a special case) in 1998). Before 1990 you have to go back to 1974, where East Germany, Holland, and Poland all pulled it off -- and all of them won their groups!

    As for experienced qualifiers, Germany kept their perfect record going with their 12th consecutive qualification. Brazil (who was ousted in the group stage for the one and only time in 1966) made it 9 in a row, but Argentina had their streak snapped at 8. You have to go all the way back to 1962 for the last time Argentina didn't make it out of the group stage. What country knocked them out then? England, of course. And in 2002 England extended their qualifying streak to 8. Italy is next with 7, then Mexico with 4, and among teams that participated in 2002, Paraguay, Denmark, and Ireland with 3. Denmark and Ireland have each now qualified all 3 times they've participated. Poland, who previously had qualified all 4 times from the group stage, finally found themselves on the outside looking in. And a special note for Paraguay, who became the first team ever to come from behind with 3 goals in their final group stage game to qualify for the second round on goal difference.

    At the other end, Russia and Cameroon each extended their non-qualifying streaks to 3, and Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, and Portugal went to 2. South Korea, of course, broke their non-qualifying streak at 4.

    On to consecutive game streaks. Germany stretched its unbeaten string in group stage games to 12. Quick: who's second? It's Mexico, with 8. (France had their 8-game string broken by Senegal in the opener.) Spain now has the longest group stage game winning streak, with 4. (Brazil has the all-time record there, with an amazing 12 from 1978-94.) By drawing with Japan and Tunisia, Belgium had managed 5 straight group stage draws, equal with Italy 1982-86, but alas, they beat Russia in their final game, ruining their chance for immortality.

    Speaking of draws in the group stage, this year there were 14 out of 48, 29.2%. That's very close to the overall average since the group stage was introduced, 28.3%. Each group had at least one draw, the first time that's happened since 1986.

    Now to the confederations' performance at the group stage. This was CONCACAF's year: they finished with a +2 group stage record, the best ever for one of the three lesser confederations. The only other time a lesser confederation had a plus record in the group stage was 1982, when Africa scored +1. CONCACAF's +2 wound up equal to Europe's +2, the only time one of the lesser confederations has equaled Europe's score. In addition, their +2 was better than South America's +1, only the second time a lesser confederation has surpassed South America (Africa 1982 there as well). CONCACAF also became the first lesser confederation to get a plus score vs. Europe in the group stage.

    Africa managed an even group stage score in 1990, but is now on a three-tournament losing streak: -4 in 1994, -3 in 1998, -3 in 2002. As for Asia, it doesn't take a stat freak to see that while the host teams excelled, the other teams were a disaster. Saudi Arabia and China both got blanked, and didn't even score a goal. The only other time since expansion that two teams from the same confederation were blanked was 1990, when South Korea and the United Arab Emirates came up empty. Asia's group stage score in 2002 wound up at -3, much better than their -8 in 1998, but nowhere near their all-time best, which was an even score in 1994 (and 1966, when their only representative was North Korea).

    Let's leave the group stage with the very best kind of stat: one which has nothing to do with anything else, and is utterly meaningless. You've probably noticed that the 8 groups are designated as groups A-H (by the way, before Mexico 1986, they were designated by numbers, not letters -- does anyone have even the slightest clue why that changed?). There were 20 teams that participated in both 1998 and 2002, but only 1 of the 20 wound up in the same lettered group both years (Japan, group H). For comparison, in 1990, 3 of 11 teams were in the same letter group, and in 1994, 4 of 15. You really need to know this stuff!

    Let's go briefly to the knockout rounds now. This year there were 3 teams that made it to the quarterfinals (or final 8) for the first time: South Korea, Turkey, and Senegal. That's the first time it's happened in 28 years: back in 1974, East Germany, Poland, and Holland were the newcomers. The only other postwar tournament with 3 new quarterfinalists was Sweden 1958, with Northern Ireland, the USSR, and Wales. The USA isn't in the 2002 figures because although this was their first quarterfinal, they made it to the semifinal all the way back in 1930.

    There were 2 new teams in the semifinals (or final 4) this year, Turkey and South Korea. That too has only happened twice postwar: 1974 again (Holland and Poland) and 1966 (USSR and Portugal). As for Brazil-Germany in the Final: as most of you know, it was the first time they had met at any time in the history of the tournament. The last time the finalists were meeting for the first time? You guessed it, 1974 again, Holland and Germany.

    Brazil-Germany was of course the ultimate pedigree Final. There's an earlier column on how difficult it is for new teams to reach the Final ("A very exclusive club"), where you can find some interesting stats on the subject. We'll highlight just one here. When Germany played South Korea and Brazil played Turkey this year, it marked the 14th and 15th semifinals in which one team had been to the Final before and one team had not. With the victories by Germany and Brazil, the teams that had been to the Final before -- the pedigree teams -- have now won 13 out of 15.

    Now to disciplinary stats, courtesy of Joe Thomas. Since yellow and red cards were introduced in 1970, the number of cards has noticeably increased. Here are the numbers on yellow and red cards per game, including 2002:

YC/G RC/G 1970 1.38 0 1974 2.18 0.13 1978 1.39 0.08 1982 1.88 0.10 1986 2.58 0.15 1990 3.10 0.29 1994 4.35 0.27 1998 3.95 0.34 2002 4.19 0.25
    Things started to move upwards in 1986, then took a big jump in 1990 (compare 1982 and 1990). One assumes FIFA decided to get tougher on offenders; whether the quality of play has improved as a result is for the fans to judge. The all-time high for red cards was 1998, perhaps because that was the year FIFA decided to crack down on the tackle from behind. This year the emphasis was on yellow cards for diving, and there were quite a few of those, perhaps accounting for the jump from 1998 in yellows. But note that 2002 was still below the all-time year for yellows, 1994.

    A couple of disciplinary oddities. The Mexico-Croatia game made history as the first game since 1970 to have a red card (Boris Zivkovic) but no yellows. And England-Nigeria was only the second game since 1978 with no goals and no cards, the other being England-Holland 1990. It's not surprising that England was involved in both games; we know about their propensity for low scores, and they're often near the top in fair play ratings as well.

    Now to my favorite category (again because it's utterly meaningless), strips. Germany wore its #1 white-black-white strip in all 7 games, making an amazing total of 18 straight with the same strip. (The last time they wore their greens was against England in the 1990 semifinals.) Spain played all 5 games with their #1 strip as well. By contrast, Brazil, who played 7 times, used 4 different combinations: yellow-blue-white, yellow-white-blue, blue-white-blue, and yellow-blue-blue. In addition, when they wore yellow shirts and white shorts against Costa Rica, it was the first time they had used that combination since they played Spain in 1986. Turkey tied Brazil with 4 different combinations in 7 games: red-red-red, white-white-red, white-red-red, white-white-white. Senegal managed 4 different strips in their first 4 games: white-green-white, white-white-white, green-green-green, green-white-green. The monochromatic champs were Belgium, who played all 4 games with what was probably supposed to be red-red-red, but from here looked more like orange-orange-orange. Someday I'll write a book on this.

    We'll close with my single favorite stat of 2002. Brazil scored 18 goals, which was the most by any team in 32 years. Okay, good, but nothing dramatic. Well, how about this: not one of those 18 goals was a header. Hmm, not bad, considering headers in recent years have been higher than ever (see Part 1). But here's the punch line: if the sources I've consulted (, Brian Glanville's history, and a few others) are correct, Brazil 2002 becomes the first team ever to win the World Cup without scoring a single headed goal. Gosh, I say. The closest before now was Brazil 1958, who scored their one and only headed goal in the 90th minute of the Final (!) The scorer? Some 17-year-old kid, name began with Pů



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