Scoring is way up at this year’s World Cup with 51% more goals in the first 12 matches.
While many people are offering overly-complicated explanations based on tactics and talent, Brazilian soccer legend Zico explains why there is a very simple reason for all the goals.
“I think managers have adopted a philosophy of getting a goal first rather than risking conceding a goal,” Zico told the media in Rio de Janeiro. “They’re going out to win games.”
In other words, coaches and their teams are just being more aggressive and are looking to create scoring chances early in games.
In previous World Cups it was more common to see teams make conservative and methodical passes in the midfield area, hoping the other team would make a mistake. It often looked like a basketball team trying to run out the clock at the end of a game.
But more coaches are now realising the value of three points for a win and are being more aggressive.
Since the World Cup switched to the current format in 1998 with eight groups of four teams, only one country (Chile in 1998) made it to the knockout stage without a win in the group stage.
The increased scoring has created exciting soccer. In addition to the dramatic, game-winning goals by the United States and Switzerland, there have been five matches in which the team who scored first lost the match.
More scoring also means fewer ties as there has been just one draw in the first 14 matches. In 2010, there were six draws in the first 14 matches.
But the more aggressive nature also has its downside. Switzerland scored a game-winning goal with just 20 seconds remaining when Ecuador tried to score their own game-winning goal. This created a 6-on-4 counter-attack for Switzerland which created an easy scoring chance.
This new gunslinger mentality at the World Cup is going to break the hearts of some teams and their supporters. But it also creates a more exciting version of soccer.
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