This Chart Shows Why The World Cup Quarterfinals Will Be A Goal Barrage – Forbes

The World Cup quarterfinals are set to start tomorrow when old rivals France and Germany face off at 12 pm ET, and we could be in for an offensive showdown. But it’s not just that battle of two old European powers that should have fans licking their lips for highlight-worthy goals. It turns out the 2014 quarterfinalists as a group have a much keener eye for goal than their counterparts four years ago–setting up what should be more matches with stunning shots and the need for goalkeeping displays to match.

The most trigger happy team of this year’s World Cup has been Belgium, which is averaging 1.5 goals a game on 20 shots on goal and 14 shots on target. That’s way ahead of 2010′s leader at this stage, Argentina, which was taking 17 shots and putting 12 on goal, albeit more lethally with 2.5 goals each match.

The difference is more pronounced when you take the quarterfinalist teams as a group. The 2014 teams are averaging 16 shot per game and 10.5 on target, compared to 14 shots per game and 7.8 on target four years ago. Teams in 2014 are averaging 2.15 goals per contest compared to 1.65 in 2010.

And that’s even factoring in this year’s Cinderella, Costa Rica, which has survived this far on timely scoring and defensive skills, not a volume attack. Costa Rica’s an outlier compared to its peers more than any other team in both tournaments, putting just 4 shots on target of 8 shots overall per game, and scoring just 1.3 goals each match. Take out Costa Rica, and shots volume is even more heavily weighted towards this year’s contest.

The shot-heavy nature of this year’s tournament can be seen below, in this data “viz” made for Forbes by Mac Bryla at Tableau Software. The chart reflects total shots on goal and shots on target for each year’s quarterfinalists, with a country’s size reflecting how many goals they’ve scored per game.

Dashboard 4

This should be great news for fans of the beautiful game. It sets up several juicy contests that could produce wide-open and free-attacking matchups. Leading the way is Argentina-Belgium, featuring a squad in Belgium that has taken more shots and put more on target than any other team, in no small part due to the siege it conducted on American keeper Tim Howard’s goal in its victory Tuesday, when Howard saved 16 shots. Lots of shots means lots of chances for fantastic goalkeeping performances. Add that to the fact that Belgium’s playing the team tied for the second-most shots, Lionel Messi’s Argentina, and we could be in for a frenetic offensive game.

The other top match-up for offense could prove France-Germany, the first game of the round. France is tied with Argentina for second-most shots and has proven a major surprise even without injured star Franck Ribery. Germany, meanwhile, has produced goals in bunches and just trails Brazil behind those countries for shots.

Besides Costa Rica, the other two teams left aren’t slouches, either. While Netherlands and Colombia both trail the group average for shots on goal and shots attempted, they’ve been clinical in their scoring, averaging 3 goals and 2.8 goals per game, respectively–the most of any teams left in the field. Compare that to four years ago, when Netherlands made the final averaging just 1.8 goals per game and the leader at this point was Argentina with 2.5 goals.

No matter what, we won’t see Spain ride tiki-taka one-goal victories to glory this World Cup. And while pre-tournament favorites like Argentina, Brazil and Germany are still standing in this year’s tournament, the barrage of goals and shots we’ve seen so far means that whoever advances on, the odds are good it will be an attack-minded side setting the net on fire again.

‘Golazo’ enthusiasts, this is your World Cup.

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