World Cup trivial pursuit

But what do you remember most about this global showcase?

Well, the statistics, complied by Fifa experts, make some interesting reading.

Read on:

This World Cup finals was only the seventh time in 18 editions of the tournament that the game did not feature a South American nation.

That broke a sequence of five successive deciding matches involving either Brazil or Argentina.

It started in 1986 with Argentina beating Germany in the final, 1990 ‘ Germany beating Argentina in the final, 1994 ‘ Brazil beating Italy in the final, 1998 ‘ France beating Brazil in the final and 2002 ‘ Brazil beating Germany in the final.

The last all-European Final had been held in 1982 with Italy defeating West Germany in the final in Spain courtesy of Marco Tardelli and Paolo Rossi.

The other finals which featured all European sides were in 1934, 1938, 1954, 1966, and 1974.

Incredibly the game in Berlin last Sunday was just one of five finals that did not involve either Germany or Brazil in 76 years of World Cup competition.

Only the finals held in 1930, 1934, 1938 and 1978 did not feature either Germany or Brazil.

All the finals in the post Second World War era, except the one in 1978 when Argentina played Holland, featured either Brazil or Germany in the final.

If we include Argentina then all the post World War II finals ‘ until Sunday’s match ‘ featured one of the three heavyweights.

Referee Horacio Elizondo became the first Argentinian official to officiate in a World Cup Final and only the third South American to get that honour.

The other two were Brazilians ‘ Arnaldo Coelho and Romualdo Arppi Filho ‘ who were in charge in 1982 and 1986.

Elizondo also wrote his own piece of history by becoming the first referee to handle the opening match of the tournament and also handle the final.

He also sent off the two players with the highest profile in the quarter-final ‘ Wayne Rooney ‘ and in the final ‘ Zinedine Zidane.

Sunday’s game presented six Frenchmen to join an exclusive list of players who have won World Cup finals in tournaments that do not follow each other.

Until then only Pele, Daniel Passarella, Cafu and Ronaldo ‘ all South Americans ‘ had been on that list.

Fabien Barthez, Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira, Zinedine Zidane, David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry had a chance on Sunday to join that elite list.

They were all members of France’s triumphant cast of 1998 and they could have joined that list by leading their nation to victory but France’s defeat destroyed all that.

Pele was the first after he collected his first winner’s medal in 1958, another in 1962, and his third gold in 1970.

He was succeeded by Daniel Passarella, who captained Argentina’s 1978 winners before picking up a medal as a non-playing member of Carlos Bilardo’s 1986 squad. Cafu and Ronaldo both achieved the distinction thanks to Brazil’s successes in the 1994 and 2002 tournaments.

A total of 147 goals were scored in the 64 games of the World Cup ‘ an average of 2.29 goals per game.

The other two 64-game tournaments produced 171 in 1998 (2.61 average) and 161 in 2002 (2.52 average).

The leading scorers were Germany with 14 goals with Italy next best on 12.

Both totals came from seven games.

Argentina were third best with 11 from five games.

The best goals-per-game ratio belonged to Spain ‘ nine goals in four games, a ratio of 2.25. Spain also led the way with penalty goals ‘ three in all. France, Portugal and C’te d’Ivoire each had two penalties.

The biggest win was Argentina’s 6-0 victory over Serbia and Montenegro while the opening fixture also produced six goals as Germany overcame Costa Rica 4-2.

Germany had the most shots ‘ 113.

Portugal were next best on 100 with Italy third on 83.

For shots on target, the top two positions were reversed with Portugal showing 51 and Germany 50. Italy registered 48.

Germany striker Miroslav Klose was the winner of the Adidas Golden Shoe with five goals.

Then came a host of players on three including Hernan Crespo, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Gillette Best Young Player Lukas Podolski as well as the two new Spanish matadors, Fernando Torres and David Villa.

With a striking ratio of 0.75 (three goals in four games) Crespo, Torres and Villa had a better return than Klose.

Frank Lampard had the most shots in the tournament (24) with his new Chelsea midfield colleague Michael Ballack on 22 alongside Germany team-mate Podolski.

In terms of accuracy, nobody did better than Henry.

He landed 13 shots on goal (from only 16 attempts in all) with Cristiano Ronaldo and Klose both on 12.

Argentina did well on assists, their total of ten putting Italy in second place with nine while Brazil and Germany had eight.

Juan Riquelme’s creativity left him top of the individual rankings with four assists.

Four players managed three: Luis Figo, Andrea Pirlo, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Francesco Totti.

At the other end of the field, Gianluigi Buffon’s excellence in the Final for Italy made him the top goalkeeper for saves made (27), overtaking Portugal’s Ricardo who totalled 25.

The corner count was led by both Italy and Portugal with 44 with France next best on 41.

The side caught offside the most was Italy (34 ) with France second on 29.

Those tallies came from seven games.

Ghana showed a remarkable tendency to getting caught offside ‘ 25 times in their four games.

The team making most short passes were Portugal with 2,547 followed by Germany with 2,392.

Long passes were led by Germany with 821 followed by Italy with 711.

Germany were easily the team who put over the most crosses: 202. The next highest tally came from Portugal with 166.

Germany were also the team that made most of the tackles ‘ 220 compared to Italy’s 187 and Ukraine’s 170.

France had most tackles made against them, 204, with Portugal on 194 and Germany 186.

No player got close to Italy’s Gennaro Gattuso in regard to tackles committed.

He tallied 47 with World Cup final opponents Patrick Vieira and Eric Abidal of France next on 36 and 32.

Ukraine’s Anatoliy Tymoschuk was also on 32.

Germany and France committed the most fouls with 125; Italy with 152 suffered most fouls with Germany next on 133. Portugal accumulated the most yellow cards (24) with Ghana next on 18.

Figo had more tackles made on him than anyone else (42) with Portuguese team-mate Ronaldo on 36.

The success of France’s two wide players ‘Florent Malouda and Frank Ribery is shown in their high number (35 and 33 respectively).

Part of France’s high ranking in the foul count was down to Henry: he committed more (20) than anyone else.

Italy’s Luca Toni suffered most fouls against him (28). Players picking up most yellow cards were Portugal’s Costinha and Asamoah Gyan of Ghana (4 each).

A more predictable statistic for Henry was that he had most shots on target at the World Cup finals.

As for the teams’ actual goals, Italy scored 12 goals and conceded only two, including an own goal while France scored nine and conceded three.

Italy had one penalty from which they scored against Australia while France had two penalties.

Italy scored four headers, France with one.

At the other end of the pitch, Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon was the busiest goalkeeper at this tournament.

Portugal’s Ricardo was second.

Barthez’s busiest game was against Portugal when he made five saves ‘ Buffon made eight against Czech Republic but only one in the previous game against the USA.

Italy fared much better than France in terms of crossing, completing 34 in 124 attempts (27 per cent) compared with 28 in 133 (21 per cent) by their opponents.

Amazingly the teams showed virtually the same number of short passes, Italy: 1,889, France 1,885 (92 per cent completed by Italy, 93 per cent by France) in the run-up to their final showdown ‘ Report compiled with the assistance of the website.

July 2006
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