Analysing Performance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup

There will be many performance analysis projects that focus on the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. I tracked two performance parameters at this tournament:

  • The outcome of scoring the first goal in a game.
  • The relationship between FIFA ranking (May 2010) and game outcome.

These are the results:

Team that scores first (game count = 64):

Wins Draws Loses
46 8 3

Note: Game 58 Uruguay v Ghana ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time. It is recorded here as a draw.


0 – 0 Draws

Uruguay v France

Cote d’Ivoire v Portugal

England v Algeria

Paraguay v New Zealand

Portugal v Brazil

Switzerland v Honduras

Paraguay v Japan

Note: the Final between Netherlands and Spain ended in a 0-0 draw at full time. Spain scored the first and only goal in the second half of extra time. It is recorded as a win here.

Team that does not score first wins?

In the 64 games played three teams have scored first and lost. Nigeria scored first in Game 19 of the tournament. Greece won the game 2-1. It is interesting to note that: Greece was higher in the FIFA ranking; Nigeria had a player sent off in the 33rd minute; both of Greece’s goals were scored after the sending off. In Game 26 Cameroon scored first. Denmark won the game 2-1. Denmark was lower in the FIFA rankings than Cameroon. Both the teams to have scored first and lost in the Group Stage of the tournament were from the African continent and were been beaten by European teams. Cameroon was beaten twice by lower ranked teams (Japan and Denmark).

Brazil scored first in Game 57 and lost 1-2 to Netherlands in the quarter final game. Brazil was the higher ranked team.

Results from FIFA Rankings (game count = 64):

FIFA Ranking Wins Draws Loses
Higher Ranking Team 37 14 13
Lower Ranking Team 13 14 37

Note: Game 58 Uruguay v Ghana ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time. It is recorded here as a win for the higher ranked team, Uruguay, as a game outcome after the penalty shoot out.

Exceptions: Higher Ranking Team Loses

Greece (v Korea), Serbia (v Ghana), Cameroon (v Japan), Spain (v Switzerland), France (v Mexico), Germany (v Serbia), Cameroon (v Denmark), France (v South Africa), Serbia (v Australia), Italy (v Slovakia), Denmark (v Japan), USA (v Ghana), Brazil (v Netherlands)

Photo Credits

Players’ Entrance Tunnel

Opening Ceremony


    • Thanks for sharing the link. It is fascinating to observe the expectation that England will win the World Cup.

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