Essential World Cup Stats

Essential World Cup Stats

With the FIFA World Cup in Russia hovering on the horizon, we decided we’d look back over previous years to start our early bets on who we think will be winning in Russia in 2018. Have you made your predictions yet?


In 1930, when the first World Cup took place in Uruguay, only 13 teams were involved, with 32,808 people attending each game on average. By 2014 (the last tournament to have taken place), there were 32 teams competing for the treasured winning trophy and an average attendance of 52,918.

For the last five tournaments, since the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, 32 teams have participated in the finals, with 64 matches played. Before this, there had been 24 teams in each of the previous four tournaments.

Goals Scored

The number of goals scored in total has fluctuated year-on-year. In 1998, it was 171. This dropped in 2002 to 161, and dropped further to 147 in 2006 and 145 in 2010. For the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, there was a surge in goals scored, with 171 netted in total.

The average number of goals scored per match was 2.7 that year – a decent total for the modern game but nothing compared to 1954, when the average amount of goals scored was 5.4. Since Mexico 1970, when the average number of goals scored per game was three, we have never seen more than 2.8 goals per game.


The most successful team in World Cup history is Brazil, who have won five editions of the tournament – 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. The last winner, whose title will be up for grabs in Russia, was Germany who have won four editions – 1954, 1974, 1990 (all as West Germany) and 2014. Italy have managed the same number of wins – in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006.

The other victorious countries are Uruguay (who have won twice, in 1930 and 1950), Argentina (who have also won twice, in 1978 and 1986), England (who have won once – who can forget 1966?), France (who have won once, while hosting in 1998) and Spain, who recorded their first victory in South Africa in 2010.


39-year-old Gianluigi Buffon, who plays as a goalkeeper for Italy, is the most experienced to participate in recent times, having featured in five World Cup squads so far – 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. He has said that 2018 will be his final year, and plans to retire from the sport unless his club Juventus wins the elusive Champions League, which he has never won (although they have come runner-up three times). In June 2017, he had made 169 appearances for Italy, which is a national record. His goal-keeping abilities no doubt helped Italy in their 2006 win, and a 2018 victory could be in his sights as a career finale.

Miroslav Klose, victorious in his last tournament with Germany in 2014, holds the record for most goals by a single player, with 16. He is followed closely by Brazilian legend Ronaldo, who netted 15 between 1994 and 2006 and Gerd Muller, the German who scored 14 goals in just two tournaments, including as a winner in 1974.


In the preliminaries, FIFA reports that so far there have been a total of 2,202 yellow cards and 109 red cards, as well as an average of 2.9 goals scored per match and 1,903 goals in total. The team with the most goals is Australia, who have scored 43 goals in 15 matches. In terms of goals per match, the most attacking side is Germany, who have scored 4.5 goals over a total of six matches.

As some indications of what’s to come, the top scorer has been Mohammed Al Sahlawi for Saudi Arabia, who has scored a total of 16 goals in 12 matches played. The player who has spent the most minutes on the pitch is Maya Yoshida for Japan, who has played 1,440 minutes over 16 matches.

With Russia’s FIFA World Cup 2018 set to promise another month of exciting football moments, career highlights, and memorable goals, the odds are rapidly being placed by pundits on what’s to come.

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