The 2014 World Cup Is On Pace To Be One Of The Best Ever – Forbes

The FIFA World Cup is arguably the world’s biggest sports tournament, which explains why even in the United States, where soccer is still a niche interest, tournament viewership is soaring. The 2014 World Cup has been particularly thrilling, and from a US-centric view of the game – high scoring is good, ties are bad – the ongoing tournament leaves incredibly little to be desired.

This year’s World Cup got off to a roaring start, with the first ten games featuring no draws, five comeback wins and nearly 3.5 goals scored per game on average. It hasn’t slowed much since. Through the 48 group stage matches, World Cup teams played to a draw just nine times. That’s the lowest number since the eight group-stage draws in 1994 – and that year featured two fewer groups. The four tournaments in between have averaged 13 draws in the group stage.

Scoring is also off the charts. Though it cooled slightly since the hot start, the group stage featured 136 total goals, or an average of nearly three per game. That’s more than any of the last four tournaments, which averaged a total of 118 group-stage goals. The 2014 World Cup has, through Monday, featured a total 150 goals scored – not including penalty shootouts – and is quickly closing in on the 171-goal record set in 1998. With ten games still to be played, a record-book performance appears to be in the making.

The stakes are even higher now that the tournament has moved into the knockout stages, and the on-field action has turned up accordingly. Of the six matches played thus far, four of them have been won in stoppage- or over-time. In other words, aside from France-Nigeria and Colombia-Uruguay, every knockout game played so far has been an absolute nail-biter. Two of those thrillers went all the way to penalty kicks, already putting the 2014 tournament halfway toward matching the record of four that was set in 1990 and again in 2006.

And not only has there been tons of excitement, but much of it has come from thrilling underdog victories.

Despite the loss of phenom striker Radamel Falcao, Colombia scored nine goals in the group stage, second-most behind only the Netherlands, and has already eliminated Uruguay in the knockout stage. Costa Rica scored a massive upset over Italy, helping to send the European power packing, and also nabbed a ticket to the quarterfinals with a round-of-16 victory over Greece. And Chile, one of the tournament’s most exciting teams, knocked off reigning champion Spain in their group and nearly eliminated tournament favorite Brazil, taking the home team all the way to penalty kicks before relenting.

Neymar,  Mauricio Isla

In short, the 2014 World Cup, despite some backfires for the host nation, is on pace to be one of the most exciting tournaments in World Cup history. And with the United States set to take on Belgium on Tuesday afternoon with a quarterfinal berth on the line, it may soon get even better.

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