Rio de Janeiro- One of the beautiful game’s most protracted debates centers around which department, between defence and attack, is most important.
It is an argument as old as the game the middle-of-the-road view that both are equally important has scarcely ended the discussion. The proponents of defending claim that once you clear your lines well, the least you will get out of the match is a stalemate.
The aficionados of forward play champion the case that attack is the best form of defence, reiterating that you can’t win a game without goals. You have probably chanced upon the cliché that strikers win you games but defences win your championships. Regardless it is goals that make matches. Without the onion bag crossing the goal-line, the feeling is a tad different. The game is empty.
Football philosophies change, tactics evolve but the manner to win matches doesn’t change. It is simple, outscore the opponent. Football is goals. And vice versa. It is for that reason that Brazil 2014 is shaping to become a tournament to cherish.
Before Sunday’s matches, the opening eight games had provided goals galore to the delight of soccer purists.Perhaps the 2014 Brazuca ball is an improvement – for forwards – from Jabulani, the last World Cup ball Iker Casillas branded ‘a beach ball’.
The 28 goals scored are an average of 3.5 a game, an impressive statistic that is evidence of willingness for teams to be aenturous.
The best example is Spain vs Holland. When the two sides met in South Africa 2010, their showdown was decided in the 116th minute of a scrappy game where the Dutch seemed intent on kicking their opponents off the park. When the two met on Friday, the match produced six goals.
Undoubtedly the 2010 match was a final where expansive football was never going to be showcased. Goals tend to lessen as the tournament progresses.
Coaches will be keen to shore up their defences with a safety first approach particularly when the World Cup enters the knock out stages.
Yet for now it is a positive start to the competition, especially with some of the game’s famed attacking players getting into their groove early.
Stars like Neymar, Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, Oscar, Keisuke Honda and strikers Gervinho, Wilfred Bony and James Rodriguez have opened their accounts.
Since the World Cup was expanded to 32 teams, the highest average has been 2.68 that was produced at France 98.
South Africa 2010 had an average of 2.27. The record average of goals, one unlikely to be surpassed sooner or later, is 5.39 from the 1954 edition where West Germany triumphed. 140 goals were scored in 26 matches.
WC Goals average1930 – 3.89 – 13 teams1934 – 4.12 – 161938 – 4.67 – 151950 – 4 – 131954 – 5.39 – 161958 – 3.6 – 161962 – 2.79 – 161966 – 2.79 – 161970 – 2.97- 161974 – 2.56 – 161978 – 2.69 – 161982 – 2.81 – 241986 – 2.54 – 241990 – 2.21 -241994 – 2.72 – 241998 – 2.68 – 322002 – 2.52 – 322006 – 2.23 – 322010 – 2.27 – 32
SOURCE: Daily Monitor