Moscow, Oct 16 (IANS) Possession is clearly not everything in football as the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) highlighted in their report over the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, which was published on Tuesday.
The TSG is made up of football luminaries such as former Brazil coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, former Dutch international, Marco van Basten (who is FIFA’s Chief Technical Development Officer), Emmanuel Amunike, Bora Milutinovic, Andy Roxburgh (former Scotland coach) and Pascal Zuberbuhler, a goalkeeping specialist in FIFA’s Technical Development Division, and overseen by FIFA’s Coaching & Player Development Department, led by Branimir Ujevic, reports Xinhua news agency.
The report contains detailed statistics on the tournament as a whole and every one of the 64 matches played in Russia this summer and among the main findings are that World Cup winners France were only 19th in the overall ranking of possession in the tournament, while Spain, who failed to progress past the last 16, saw more of the ball than any team in the tournament with 69 percent possession.
While possession is clearly not a guarantee for success, putting in the mileage was also not a certain recipe for winning matches.
The hardest working team in Russia – Serbia, whose players covered a combined total of 113 kilometers per game, failed to make it out of the group stage, while the French players only managed an average total of 101 kilometers per match and were 28th out of 32 teams in that respect.
Teams are becoming more effective from set pieces, with one in 29 corners in Russia seeing the ball end up in the back of the net, an improvement from one in 36 in Brazil 2014 and one in 61 in South Africa in 2010.
Long range shooting has also improved with one in 29 shots from outside of the penalty area ending in goal, while only one in 42 long range shots in Brazil finished in the net.
However, although they didn’t have the most possession and certainly didn’t do the most running, the report concludes that in Russia 2018, the best team won.
“France were worthy winners. Under the steady stewardship of (coach) Didier Deschamps, who had a clear and precise vision of how to make the most of the players at his disposal and go all the way, they were the most settled and assured performers overall,” said the report.