Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup Diary: Day Three: Reviews, Previews & Revenge

Two days, five games, twelve goals in Germany 2006. That gives us an average of 2.4 goals per game, lowest worst in the history of the World Cup, after the dismal one worthy of Dante’s inferno, the 1990 cup held—where else, Italy, land of the zero-zero tie and boring-as-hell football. That one clocked in at 115 goals in 52 matches (there were just 24 teams back then), for an average of 2.2 per game. The last two cups, France 1998 and U.S. 1994 both managed averages of 2.7 goals per game, but the last time we had anything more honorable was in 1970, when Brazil put on its Art Ensemble of Brazilia display in Mexico and those 32 matches (just 16 teams in the competition) resulted in a 3.0 average. And still, that was pretty low compared with previous world cups. Up until 1958, when the competition was admittedly a very clubbish affair (13 to 16 teams participated in its early years), the averages went like this: 3.9 in Uruguay (1930), 4.1 in Italy (1934), 4.7 in France (1938), 4.0 in Brazil (1950), 5.4 in Switzerland (1954) and 3.6 in Sweden (1958). That makes this World Cup’s totals even more dismal. I’m looking for a 3.0 average at least, if this is to be an occasion as joyous as it ought to be. No more of these Ireland-Italy games, no more of these pseudo-chess matches on the pitch.

Then again, we had a match like yesterday’s 0-0 tie between Trinidad and Sweden, certainly the best match of the tournament so far (Reuters gives it to Argentina-Ivory Coast, a fair enough point of dispute). Read the rest of the full preview...