Group stage round-up
A few brief points to make…
1. The three-man defence has been highly successful so far. A three-man defence has played a four-man defence (at least from the start) on ten occasions. These matches have produced eight victories for the three-man defence, and two draws. A back four is yet to beat a back three. There have been two meetings between three-man defences, Uruguay 1-0 Italy and Netherlands 2-0 Chile.
2. The goals per game average is very high so far, although it’s not unusual for this figure to drop once we reach the knockout stages, with more evenly-balanced sides, and more defensive teams. (source: @lovefutbol)
3. European sides have struggled so far, although they also struggled at this stage last time around. Only three of the eight quarter-finalists were European, but they finished first, second and third. A South American champions is more likely, which means (as the below graphic shows) the overall score would be 10-10 between Europe and South America.
4. Here is a ‘Best Of’ XI, comprised of players who have been eliminated:
Alireza Haghighi (Iran)
Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast), John Mensah (Ghana), Jala Hosseini (Iran), Matteo Darmian (Italy)
Ivan Perisic (Croatia), Mohamed Besic (Bosnia), Joao Moutinho (Portugal) Ivica Olic (Croatia)
Enner Valencia (Ecuador), Tim Cahill (Australia)
5. The way the World Cup draw has worked out means four South American sides are battling for one semi-final place – the winner of Brazil v Chile plays the winner of Uruguay v Colombia. This means, at most, South American sides will only make up two of the semi-finalists (Argentina is the other).Group stage round-up