International Sports

World Cup 2018: The halfway point in numbers

Adam Reed | CNBC Sports Producer
Key Points
  • Players from the England-based Premier League have scored the largest share of goals at Russia 2018.
  • Video assistant referee (VAR) is influencing referee decisions, with more penalties awarded already than in the whole tournament four years ago.
  • Germany’s struggles have created some unwanted records.
Belgium's Dries Mertens in action with Panama's Jose Luis Rodriguez at Fischt Stadium in Sochi Russia on June 18th, 2018.
Hannah McKay | Reuters

The World Cup soccer tournament in Russia has reached its halfway point.

So what have we learned from the 32 games that have already taken place? CNBC takes a look.

Goals galore

There have been a total of 85 goals so far, with not a single goalless result.

On average, games have produced 2.66 goals, with England-based Premier League players collectively contributing the most with 23 strikes, one ahead of Spain’s La Liga.

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane leads the overall Golden Boot scoring charts with five goals. A goal apiece from his club teammates Christian Erikson of Denmark and South Korea’s Son Heung-Min mean that Spurs players have seven goals in total, but Real Madrid is just ahead with eight.

Video assistant referee (VAR)

The controversial system still splits opinion with its use making its World Cup debut at this tournament, with more penalties awarded already (16) as there were in the whole of Brazil 2014 (13). The World Cup record, set in 2002, stands at 18.

VAR has been responsible for awarding several of these penalties and also used to confirm other on-field decisions made by officials. Referees have also not been afraid to overturn judgments, as was evident when VAR decided Brazilian Neymar had not been fouled in the penalty area and rescinded the original decision.

"Generally, it should be noted that FIFA is extremely satisfied with the level of refereeing to date and the successful implementation of the VAR system," said FIFA Media Relations Manager Giovanni Marti.

German inefficiency

Germany finally arrived at the tournament on Saturday evening, but left it late to beat Sweden. Tony Kroos scored a dramatic winner just 18 seconds from the end of the scheduled five minutes of added time.

The 2014 winners had to come from behind to get their first points in Russia, but still have work to do to avoid the “champions’ curse,” which has seen three of the past four winners go out at the group stage.

Before Marco Reus scored Germany’s equalizer against the Swedes, the Germans had set a new and unwanted record for themselves, by going 138 minutes from the start of a tournament without scoring a goal.

Germany has never gone out at the group stage of a World Cup in the modern format and now hopes Sweden doesn’t beat Mexico on Wednesday and that they beat South Korea to avoid doing so.

England roar

By contrast, England has made relatively straightforward progress to the last 16 — and also has the luxury of doing so with a game to spare, for just the third time in its World Cup history.

Not only was England’s 6-1 beating of Panama on Sunday the biggest margin of victory of any team in the World Cup so far, but it’s also a record tournament win for the English.

Eight goals scored from two games for manager Gareth Southgate and it would appear set-pieces are a crucial part of their play. Four goals came as a result of dead-ball situations, taking England’s team total to six, contributing to the 40 percent of all World Cup 2018 goals coming from set-pieces.

Russian chemistry

Russia were the weakest team in the competition coming into their own World Cup, according to FIFA’s rankings, but so far have far outperformed their ranking position of 70. The hosts were the first team through to the knockout stages and their players have been putting in the effort during their impressive group stage performances.

According to FIFA’s statistics, Russia covered more ground than any other team, with their opening 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia seeing them run a collective 73 miles. The standout distance coverer in their team has been Aleksandr Golovin. The midfielder has not only covered 15.6 miles across two game, more than any other player in the tournament, but has also completed more sprints than anyone else.