The World Cup group stage has come to an end after plenty of shocks and some big nations flopping. Here are some of the greatest stats from the 48 matches to take place in Qatar.
1) In their sixth World Cup appearance, Tunisia beat a European team for the first time: world champions France on matchday three. This was the African nation’s best World Cup showing since their first in 1978, but they still failed to qualify for the last 16 for the first time thanks to Australia’s 1-0 win against Denmark. Their previous record against European opposition was 0-4-7. The loss was also France’s first at the World Cup since their 1-0 defeat to Germany in the quarter-final eight years ago.
2) On day two of the tournament, England’s Bukayo Saka (21 years, 77 days) became the youngest player to score two or more goals on their World Cup debut since Franz Beckenbauer in 1966 (20 years, 304 days).
3) Gavi became the youngest Spaniard to play at a World Cup, and marked the occasion by becoming their youngest scorer (previously held by Cesc Fabregas). This came during Spain’s 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica. Oh, and Gavi’s goal made him the youngest World Cup scorer since Pele for Brazil in 1958 and the third-youngest of all time, behind Pele and Mexico’s Manuel Rosas.
4) This tournament was only the third time there was a single debutant (Qatar) taking part, and the first time the lone team making their first World Cup appearance was the host nation.
5) Brazil continued their astonishing record of playing at every single World Cup and never failing to make it out of their group. With their 1-0 victory against Switzerland, Tite’s side set the record for the longest unbeaten run in the group stage with 17. Cameroon ended that on the final group matchday, becoming the first African team to beat Brazil at a World Cup.
6) Not including penalty shootouts, Ghana became the first country to miss two penalties against the same opponent since data collection began at the men’s World Cup in 1966. Asamoah Gyan’s miss 12 years ago was heart-breaking, and Andre Ayew’s miss this year was just frustrating. What an awful run-up and penalty that was.
7) Ghana’s Inaki Williams and Spain’s Nico Williams made tournament history on November 24 when they became the first full siblings to play for different countries at a World Cup. Kevin-Prince and Jerome Boating played against each other in 2010, however, they only share the same father.
8) Four goalless draws on matchday one meant eight teams drew their opening game 0-0 in the same World Cup for the first time ever.
9) Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup match when Germany took on Costa Rica.
10) Belgium’s unconvincing win against Canada on matchday one set the record for the most consecutive wins in the group stage of the competition (8). Unfortunately for them, the lost their next game and drew their last to crash out. Second in the world? You’re having a laugh.
11) Cristiano Ronaldo has further enhanced his legacy in Qatar with a few decent records. Alongside Argentina superstar Lionel Messi and Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado, the 37-year-old joined an elite group of players to play at five World Cups. He also became the first player to score at five separate World Cup tournaments and the oldest player to score for Portugal at the World Cup.
12) My favourite stat of the tournament, however, is that Ronaldo became the second player to captain a country at the World Cup without being attached to a club team. The other was Bruce Wilson for Canada in 1986.
13) Enner Valencia joined Portugal legend Eusebio, Italy’s Paolo Rossi and Russia’s Oleg Salenko in scoring the most consecutive World Cup goal for a nation with six. He failed to score in the Senegal loss, with Moises Caicedo netting for the South Americans.
14) One of the most successful teams in tournament history, Germany failed to win any of their opening two matches at a World Cup for the first time since 1938 and did not qualify for the last 16 for the second consecutive tournament for the first time ever.
15) This is the first World Cup in its current 32-team format in which no-one has won all three group matches. There were three teams four years ago, four in 2014, two in 2010, four in 2006, and two in 2002 and 1998.
16) Japan clearly had a game plan, and it clearly worked. No wonder they couldn’t beat Costa Rica; they actually had to take the initiative. Since detailed records began in 1966, only twice has a team attempted 700+ passes and failed to win. The first time? Germany against Japan in 2022. The second time? Spain against Japan a week later. They actually had 17.7% of the ball against Spain – the lowest possession a winning team has had in a World Cup win.
17) Speaking of Messi, he became the oldest player (35 years, 155 days) to score and assist in a World Cup game; he already holds the record for the youngest player (18 years, 357 days) to do the exact same thing. Astonishing.
18) Croatia became the second team this century to have multiple goalless draws in their group and still progress to the last 16. The other team? Portugal in 2010.
19) During Germany’s win over Costa Rica, wonderkid Jamal Musiala successfully completed 13 dribbles. That is the second most to be recorded in a World Cup game. What a star. Bet he wishes he declared for England, though.
20) Two for the price of one here. Dani Alves’ appearance against Cameroon made him the oldest Brazil player at the showpiece tournament. Olivier Giroud broke that record on matchday one against Australia, and then again against Denmark, and will break it again if he plays against Poland in the last 16. His goal against Australia obviously made him France’s oldest scorer at a World Cup as well.
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