Qatar 2022: Key stats from the first round of Group Stage fixtures

For those inclined to the data in football, the World Cup has thrown up some really interesting numbers so far.

The most important stats from the World Cup so far

World Cup records started falling from the very first day of the 2022 World Cup, as Qatar became the first host nation to lose their opening match at the tournament in World Cup history.

World Cup records started falling from the very first day of the 2022 World Cup, as Qatar became the first host nation to lose their opening match at the tournament in World Cup history.

Spain scored the most goals in the first round of fixtures with a 7-0 drubbing of Costa Rica, breaking a record for the biggest win in Spain’s World Cup history. They also had an astonishing 81.3% ball possession, which was the most of any team in the first round of games and also the most since Opta started collecting possession stats in 1966.

Another record dating back to 1966 was broken after Mehdi Taremi scored a 103rd-minute penalty to break the record for the latest goal at a World Cup final since Opta started collecting data.

In Spain’s fixture, Barcelona’s Gavi became the youngest person to represent Spain at the World Cup and capped his performance with a brilliant goal that saw him become the youngest player to score for Spain at the World Cup as well.

Another age-related record, Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty against Ghana, saw him become the first player to score in five FIFA Men’s World Cup tournaments.

In doing so, he became Portugal’s oldest-ever goalscorer at the World Cup, while simultaneously holding the record for Portugal’s youngest goalscorer at the World Cup as well. Despite scoring seven goals, Spain didn’t create the most expected goals in the round. That honour fell to France, who aggregated 4.0xG and scored four goals from that. Talk about perfection.

Despite scoring seven goals, Spain didn’t create the most expected goals in the round. That honour fell to France, who aggregated 4.0xG and scored four goals from that. Talk about perfection.

Interestingly, of the six teams that amassed the most expected goals in the first round of fixtures, three of them (Germany 3.1xG, Canada 2.4xG, and Argentina 2.2xG) actually ended up losing.

Not only did Germany have the third-highest xG in the first round in their loss against Japan, but they also had the most shots on goal in the first round as well.

On the other end of that scale, Costa Rica had the fewest shots in the round, as they became the first team in the 21st century to play a game at the World Cup without recording a shot on goal. Costa Rica became the first side since... themselves to fail to get a shot on goal at the World Cup, equaling an unwanted record from their first-ever World Cup appearance in 1990.

They were easily the worst side of the first round and had the lowest xG of 0.0, but at least that means they weren’t the most wasteful team in the first round of the group stages. Canada were the most wasteful side in the first round, underperforming their expected goals by -2.4 goals in their 1-0 loss to Belgium.

The next worst were Germany, who underperformed by -2.1 and Denmark, with -1.4. Canada’s finishing was so poor on the night that they had two players in the top 5 for poorest finishers and three players total in the top 10.

On the other end of the scale, England have been the best finishers in the World Cup so far, and they overperformed their xG by +3.4 in their 6-2 thrashing of Iran, while Spain finished expertly against Costa Rica as well, overperforming their xG by +3.5. On an individual basis, England’s Bukayo Saka scored two goals with an xG of only 0.2, making his the largest individual overperformance so far.

There’s no one who wouldn’t love to have an efficient finisher like Saka in their side, most especially Antoine Griezmann who created four big chances for France against Australia without getting an assist.

Other interesting things to note are the absence of own goals or red cards throughout the first 16 matches of the first round.

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