With the US failing to qualify, many were worried that this year’s edition of the FIFA World Cup would lack as much excitement as usual. So far, it has been one of the most exciting cups in recent memory. The two factors that have revved up the excitement: close games with late goals and the small number of scoreless matches.
Let’s address these close games first. In just about every sport, it is the most exciting when a game is close enough that the result can be in the balance near the end of the game. During the group stage at this world cup, 21 matches out of 48 were decided by only one goal. Although this sounds like a lot, 21 matches had been decided by one goal during group stage of the past two World Cups, in 2014 and 2010, as well. What separates this World Cup is how late these deciding goals are being scored. In twelve games, the winning goal was scored in the 80th minute or later, making these close affairs even more exciting than your standard close game. Even the draws have been exciting; five of the nine draws saw the equalizing goal scored in the 80th minute or later as well. These late goals produce enormous doses of passion and energy amongst teams and fans, like Germany’s Toni Kroos’ stunning penalty kick against Sweden, Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri’s late strike against Serbia, and Argentina’s Marcos Rojo’s shot that sealed Argentina a spot in the round of 16, to name only a few. All of these games will go down as instant classics.
Perhaps the most stunning fact demonstrating how exciting this World Cup has been for fans is the number of games with goals. Nothing gets fans going the way a goal can and they are almost always the most exciting part of a game. A scoreless draw is typically considered a very boring match because of the absence of a goal. In that respect, this year’s World Cup has been the best ever, breaking the previous record of 26 games before a scoreless draw when Belgium scored against Tunisia, bringing this year’s total to 27. The record continued to extend all the way until France and Denmark finally tied 0-0, after 36 games in which a goal was scored. That game was the only scoreless draw in the Cup, something that is sure to have pleased most fans.
If the beginning of the knockout stage has been any indication, this World Cup will continue to be one of the most exciting we’ve ever seen. France and Uruguay beat Argentina and Portugal respectively by one goal each on Saturday before Sunday saw two games go into penalty shootouts with host nation Russia defeating Spain and Croatia defeating Denmark. Monday followed that up with Belgium’s improbable comeback from two goals down against Japan capped by a goal at the last minute of regulation. There will be many more nail biters at this World Cup and the best way to watch is at a game watch party with FanWide. FanWide can help you find a local bar or restaurant where you can watch the game surrounded by other fans. What better way is there to enjoy the excitement of the World Cup than celebrating with all the local fans from any team?