Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
The opening group stage matches at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa produced only 25 goals in 16 matches, 14 less than the same stage of the competition at the 2006 event in Germany.
The low average of just 1.56 goals per game can probably be attributed to a number of factors: the much-criticised World Cup ball, cagey defending by teams playing against stronger opposition and even unfamiliar weather conditions for this time of the year for all non-African teams.
But it seems the main reason goals have been hard to come by is the tactical and technical progress second-tier teams have made, as epitomised by Switzerland’s shock 1-0 win over European champions Spain and one of the tournament’s hot favourites.
In what has so far been arguably the most entertaining match of the tournament, North Korea – widely expected to be the whipping boys of Group G – also showed how thin that line can be when they pushed Brazil to the limit in their 2-1 defeat by the five-time World Cup winners.
German media have already decided that Grafite’s brilliant 77th-minute solo goal in Wolfsburg’s 5-1 win over Bayern Munich on Saturday is the goal of the year.
He somehow managed to elude five Bayern players before scoring with a cheeky backheel.
For all its great crowd noise, emotion and late drama, Wednesday night’s FA Cup replay between Everton and Liverpool was an shocking indictment of modern football, where stopping the other side scoring has become so important that teams have almost forgotten that there is another, more decisive and infinitely more entertaining way to achieve success.
Throughout the TV commentary there were references to the 4-4 draw when the teams met in the the competition in 1991, and Liverpool’s 3-2 aet final win 20 years ago, but we were never going to get a repeat after an excruciating first hour where both penalty areas might as well have been sealed off with barbed wire.
Having seen replays of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s remarkable backheel goal for Inter Milan on Saturday, I reckon it’s one of those rare moments when football reaches the realm of art.
I realise you risk sounding like a wally by comparing something frivolous like football to such a serious business. (more…)