Friday, 6 July 2018

There's Always One (Penalty Shootout)

The Round of 16 ended up just about perfectly, although I would have happily lost my Draw bet on the final tie of the round to spare myself the emotional roller-coaster of Extra-Time and penalties, but as it turned out, lifting the penalty curse might prove to be a very important thing for England. They may need that confidence boost again very soon. 

Both of Tuesday's matches were 0:0 at Half-Time at prices of 2.46 and 2.56, and for the round, no less than seven of the eight matched were Half-Time Draws - three 1:1s and four 0:0s.

Here are the Full-Time Draw statistics for the World Cup. Noticeable that while the 1:1 score was the predominant Draw in earlier days, and has actually increased slightly in frequency, the 0:0 is now just as likely, resulting in the Draw probability now closer to 0.4 than the 0.2 of 1930 to 1982. 

So, eight teams left, two CONMEBOL v UEFA ties, followed by a pair of all-UEFA match-ups in a Quarter-Finals once again blessed by the presence of England. 

All eight have reached, and won at, this stage before, Russia as the Soviet Union in 1966. Four are former champions (Brazil, England, France and Uruguay), one is a previous finalist (Sweden), and the other three are all previous Semi-Finalists. Croatia finished third on their debut in 1998, tying Portugal's 1966 record, the Soviet Union finished fourth behind Portugal that year, while Belgium had a fourth place finish in 1986.

With 9 Quarter-Final appearances, England are third all-time behind Germany (14) and Brazil (13). The records of the other teams still standing are France (7), Russia, Sweden and Uruguay (5), Belgium (3) and Croatia (2).

From 1986, when Quarter-Finals were re-introduced after being dropped in 1974, 1978 and 1982, and the World Cup was devalued by that decision in my opinion, there have been 32 matches. 17 were Draws at Half-Time, 13 were Draws at Full-Time, and 11 went to penalties - at least one Quarter-Final shootout in each World Cup.

Of the 13 South America v Europe matches, 9 were Half-Time draws, 3 Full-Time Draws, and 3 went to penalties.

Of the 11 all-UEFA matches, no game saw more than one first-half goal, with 4 HT 0:0s,  4 finished as Draws, and all 4 went to penalties. 

Not surprising that one-sided matches are rare at this stage. Only three matches from 1986 have been decided by more than one goal, two all-UEFA matches (1998 Croatia 3 Germany 0, 2006 Italy 3 Ukraine 0), and one inter-confederation game in 2010 when Germany thrashed Argentina 4:0. Older readers might recall that those two used to be good teams.

The Half-Time 0:0 price on Brazil v Belgium is currently 3.0. I'm just sayin'.  

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