Group Stage – By the Numbers 

I don’t watch much tv, but when I do I mostly watch sports. I’m an avid fan of motorsports on two wheels (Moto GP and Motocross), but I grew up watching mostly team sports events.

I’m the type of soccer fan that will tune in for the FIFA World Cup. I have watched the previous Women’s World Cups, and this year it’s not an exception. I have not watched all the games, but I have been following the games of my home team USA. I’m not a sport analyst, I’m just a very passionate fan at times. If you still have any doubts about the disclosures, let me say it I’m not an expert, and I’m just a fan.

I’m very proud of the level of soccer the women are playing. I remember watching good ball handling, raw talent but not enough stamina. However, this year the players are not only playing at a high level, but it is impressive to see the intensity and endurance for the 90 minute period of game. Women play great soccer. The competition for the teams with a long successful history in the sport (USA, Germany, Norway, Japan) has increased and the quality of the game it’s improving.
The USA Team as usual is one of the teams to beat. However, they are not only a target for the other teams including their coaches, but also the media. The comments from both groups got me interested in looking at the numbers of the Group Stage, and reviewing some of the statements made about the performance of the team.
There are two comments that I want to address, one is the lack of scoring for the USA Team, and the easy path to the finals for the USA Team.
While reviewing the numbers, I  focused on this 2015 Word Cup, and I’m fascinated by the numbers. This cup has two more groups, which increases the number of additional countries participating in the tournament to 24 from 16 in the prior cup. During the Group Stage,  there were more average goals scores per number of participating teams during this cup 4.45 (60 goals divided by 16 teams) vs 3.75 (107 goals divided by 24 teams) in the prior cup.

The last cup had two big blowouts during the Group Stage. In two occasions, the game ended 4-0. This year we had two blowouts where the winning teams score 10 goals against their opponent. These two games help increase the average goal per participating team.

The first one is that the USA Team did not look dominant in their games. I agree with the comments that the USA Team was lacking offensive results. I also agree with the comments that to stay competitive at later rounds, the USA team has to experiment with a different strategy to create more opportunities for goals.

The highest scorers of the Group Stage were Germany, Switzerland, Cameroon and Norway for a combined total of 43 goals. During this stage, these teams played against Ivory Coast, Thailand and Ecuador who allowed a combined total of 43 goals. If we take those goals out, Germany still scored 5 goals, Norway 4 goals, Switzerland 1 goal, and Cameroon 3 goals. The USA team scored 4 goals during the same round, along with Japan, South Korea, Brazil, England and Colombia. France had 6 goals, but 5 of the 6 goals came from one game against Mexico.

However, we cannot compared apples to apples, because we are basing their score in 2 games vs 3 games the USA team played.

To put in perspective, in the prior cup, Germany, France and Brazil had 7 goals during this stage, and Japan and the USA Team had 6 goals. The USA Team Group Stage games were against North Korea, Sweden and Colombia.

During this cup Group Stage round, the USA Team did not have high scoring games. Compared to the previous cup, the total goals count was down by 2 goals. Their offense did not appear to be creating a lot of scoring opportunities, but the USA Team played three competitive games. They worked hard and won against Australia (who beats Brazil in the next round) and Nigeria. Then tied what I considered the most difficult game of their group against Sweden. Sweden finished third in the last cup and it is the only team to have won against the US in group stage. In addition, the Swedish coach was the USA Team coach in the last two world cups which in my eyes gives them an advantage.

The next comment is that the United States has an easy path against Colombia and China before they had to confront the winner of France/Germany. Colombia showed a great performance in their group. They won against the favorite of the group (France), tied one game (Mexico), and loss by 1 goal against England which is showing to be a tough contender.

The quarter final game would be against China who also had a tough and low scoring round, but won against Cameroon in the elimination round (Cameroon won two games out of three in their group, and their loss came against Japan).

It is foolish to solely base predictions of this tournament on teams’ past performances. Colombia and China do not create an easy path to the semifinals. They are both good contenders.

The USA Team was accused of disrespecting teams, but I believe that the media, experts and commentators are the ones responsible for the misunderstanding. While voicing their expectations for the USA Team, these experts are underestimating the competition. I am glad that the USA Team is not underestimating anyone.

As a latin woman, it is exciting to see how much the sport is growing and the backup countries are giving to Women’s sport by spending resources in supporting their nation’s team. It is great to see the different Nation’s programs improving and maturing through the years.

I can also see the results of other Nation’s programs that have not invested resources and are expecting better results from their teams, which puts players at a disadvantage. These are top athletes, competing at the highest level of the sport and they deserve respect and the support of their nation. What worked 4 or 8 years ago, in the previous two cups, it is not longer enough to be competitive.

I just needed to vent a little.

These are my notes from Group Stage. All the information from this year’s cup was obtained at http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/2015-fifa-womens-world-cup-complete-schedule/story?id=31204768

Take in consideration that this analysis has been done after lack of sleep. All groups played 6 games. Each team playing each other once.

Group A: Canada, China, Netherlands, New Zealand. Total goals scored 9. Highest Scorer China with 3 goals. Notes: The group had 3 games that ended in a tie, and 3 games decided by 1 goal.

Group B: Norway, Thailand, Germany, Ivory Coast. Total goals scored 29. Highest Scorer Germany with 15 goals. Notes: Ivory Coast allowed 16 goals, and Thailand 10. Germany won against both teams, and tied against Norway 1-1.

Group C: Cameroon, Ecuador, Japan, Switzerland. Total goals scored 25. Highest Scorer Switzerland with 11 goals. Notes: Ecuador allowed 17 goals. The group had 4 games out 6 that were decided by 1 goal. Two games against Ecuador had a 16 goal differential. Japan beat Ecuador 1-0.

Group D: Sweden, Nigeria, USA, Australia. Total goals scored 15. Highest Scorer tied between three teams (Sweden, USA, Australia) with 4 goals. Notes: Sweden tied every game they played. The group had three ties, and two games were decided by two or more goals.

Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Brazil, South Korea. Total goals scored 13. Highest Scorer tied between two teams (Brazil, South Korea) with 4 goals. Notes: two games were ties, and 3 decided by 1 goal.

Group F: France, England, Colombia, Mexico. Total goals scored 16. Highest Scorer France with 6 goals. Notes: Mexico allowed 8 goals, and France scored 5 goals against Mexico, and won against England 1-0.

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