20 World Cup Qualifying Stats That Hint at What's to Come in 2014

Peter BrownellContributor IApril 23, 2013

20 World Cup Qualifying Stats That Hint at What's to Come in 2014

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    The World Cup in Brazil in 2014 is just around the corner.

    There is still a lot left to sort out in terms of qualification, though, as countries battle for spots in the illustrious international competition.

    So far there have been 1,640 goals scored in 559 total matches: Just about three goals per match. 

    The home teams have been superior in qualification to date, winning 270 games (48 percent).  A shade under every fourth game has ended in a draw, 125 (22 percent).  Away sides have managed to earn three points on the road on 169 occasions (30 percent). 

    Referee's have dished out 62 red cards and 1,951 yellow cards. 

    Federations in Europe have the most players thorough the tournament, 1,255 total footballers have represented their country in said group. 

    Not nearly as many players used in the Oceania group, just 270, or 985 fewer than in Europe. 

    There are many more matches to be played before the final 32 teams are determined, 261 to be exact. 

    Everything that has happened so far in terms of ,statistics provides a unique insight into how the World Cup might play out in just a scant 15 months or so from now.

    Enjoy, and as always, opinions on the data are always welcome in the comments section.  

    Statistics courtsey of FIFA.

Panama: 26 Goals

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    Of the six teams left in the CONCACAF qualifying group, Panama has scored the most goals. 

    Their 26 goals in 13 total matches played gives them an average of exactly two goals per match. 

    The next-highest goalscoring team left in the region is Costa Rica with 18.  The Ticos average two goals per game, too.  They have, however played fewer games, only nine so far.

    Should Panama squeak into the World Cup Finals, they could surprise opponents with their ability to finish.  

Jamaica: 9 Goals Against

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    Jamaica is stocked with talented strikers capable of finishing against some of the better international backs in the world. 

    Their defending can be called into question, though, as they have given up the most goals of any team left in CONCACAF. 

    Donovan Ricketts and the Jamaican backs have allowed nine goals in nine games so far in qualification.  If they reach Brazil, thet will need to tighten up their lines. 

Blaz Perez: 10 Goals

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    FC Dallas striker and Panamanian international Blas Perez is the leading goalscorer of the teams still with a chance to make the World Cup Finals in Brazil in the CONCACAF region.

    Perez has 10 goals so far in 13 matches played in 996 minutes logged.

    If Panama earns a spot in Brazil, opposing sides will need to account for this physical and intelligent frontrunner. 

    The next closet players in terms of goals scored in CONCACAF are three footballers who Major League Soccer fans should know quite well. 

    American Clint Dempsey, Honduran Jerry Bengtson and Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio all have seven goals in the tournament to date. 

Ghana and Congo: 11 Goals

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    Ghana and Congo are the two most prolific goalscoring sides in the African region of World Cup Qualifying. 

    Ghana has reached the mark in two fewer games, though, averaging 3.7 goals per their three matches. 

    Congo has played five and is averaging 2.2 goals per contest.

    They could prove problematic should both teams qualify for Brazil 2014. 

1 Goal

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    Five teams in the African region of World Cup qualifying have only allowed one goal in their matches so far: Ghana, Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia.

    Collectively, they have won 12 of their 19 matches played.

    Ethiopia almost matches Ghana and Congo in terms of goals scored with nine.  

    Zambia and Malawi have scored far fewer, five and two respectively.

    They will all hope to remain as unyielding as they have been.

Mabi Mputu: 4 Goals

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    The captain of Congo DR Mabi Mputu is the top goalscorer in the African qualifying region.

    He is the only player with four goals so far.

    10 others have scored three. 

    Mputu is averaging just under a goal a game having played five matches.  He has been on the pitch for 432 minutes. 

    He should look to remain dangerous in front of goal in the upcoming matches.

Japan: 14 Goals

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    Japan has the most goals and best record in Stage 4 of any of the remaining teams in the Asian region of World Cup Qualifying.

    They have scored 28 total goals overall and 14 in their current stage of play.

    Of the eight teams still competing, Japan is the only team to have picked up four wins in the aforementioned round.

    The only other team to have scored double digit goals against the remaining competition is the Korea Republic.  They have 11 goals and still own a game in hand on Japan.

Uzbekistan: 5 Goals Against

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    Uzbekistan has been the toughest team to break down for so far in the Asian region of World Cup qualifying.

    Their five goals conceded have come in 14 total matches played. 

    They have added in 21 goals themselves and will prove difficult to exploit in Brazil 2014.

Younis Mahmoud, Shinji Okazaki and Hasan Mahmoud: 7 Goals

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    Of the players still competing in Stage 4 of World Cup Qualifying in Asia, only three have scored seven goals: Younis Mahmoud (Iraq), Shinji Okazaki (Japan), and Hasan Mahmoud (Jordan).  

    Hasan Mahmoud has accomplished this in the least amount of minutes having played only 794 total minutes so far.

    Okazaki and Younis Mahmoud have been on the pitch for 1,046 and 1,013 minutes respectively. 

    They will all be worth planning for as opponents try and derail World Cup hopes.

Germany: 22 Goals

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    The Germans have the most goals so far of any team in the European region of World Cup Qualifying. 

    There are a few teams close to their illustrious total: England and the Netherlands are next best having netted 21 and 20 respectively. 

    Germany also owns the best goals per game average during their six matches so far.  Their 3.7 goals per match is slightly better than Bosnia-Herzegovina's 3.6 in five total matches. 

    Stocked with threats throughout the side, Germany is a favorite to take the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. 

Edin Dezko: 7 Goals

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    Bosnia and Herzegovina's Edin Dzeko is the leading goalscorer in the European Qualifying region to date.  His seven goals have come in five matches. 

    The next closest player is Israel's Tomer Hemed who has six so far. 

    Four other players have five goals apiece including Manchester United teammates Wayne Rooney (England) and Robin van Persie (the Netherlands).

    Dezko's efforts have led Bosnia and Herzegovina atop their group.  The Manchester City man will be in the running for Golden Boot contention in Brazil in 2014 if his fine form holds up. 

Mesut Ozil: 540 Minutes Played

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    Mesut Ozil is one of seven players who have played every minute of their teams six World Cup Qualifiers so far in the European region of World Cup Qualifying. 

    He is the only player of the group to have scored more than one goal.  Ozil has five so far in the competition, two of which came from penalties. 

    The other six are: Alexandru Epureanu (Moldova), Georgi Milanov (Bulgaria), Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria), Jan Vertonghen (Belgium), Nikolce Noveski (Macedonia) and Ruslan Abishov (Azerbaijani).

    They each have a goal apiece.  

    Ozil will be a massive key as Germany prepares to try and win the World Cup.  

New Zealand: 25 Goals

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    New Zealand will be representing the Oceania region in a home-and-home series against the undetermined fourth place CONCACAF finisher.  

    The All Whites earned a bid thanks, in part, to the 25 goals they scored.  This total was second most of any team in the entire region.  Only New Caledonia netted more, putting up 35.

    New Zealand only lost once in their 11 qualifiers and will be a dangerous opponent for whichever CONCACAF team is tasked with shutting down their offense over two matches. 

Chris Wood: 7 Goals

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    New Zealand's Chris Wood leads the team in goals in this World Cup Qualifying campaign with seven total goals. 

    He is tied for the second-highest total of any player in the Oceania region. 

    Georges Gope-Fenepej from New Caledonia has just one more with eight. 

    Jacques Haeko, also of New Caledonia, has seven alongside Wood.

    Wood's goals have come in nine matches played in 623 minutes.  Perhaps he can break through once again and send New Zealand to another World Cup. 

Argentina: 7 Wins and 24 Goals

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    The Argentinians are atop the South American region of World Cup Qualifying so far with seven wins in 11 total matches. 

    They also lead the table in goals scored with 24.  The next closest team in terms of standings is Ecuador who have 20 points in 10 matches played. 

    Colombia's 19 goals is the next closest total to that of Ecuador.

    Surely, Messi and company will want to desperately bring home a World Cup trophy on South American soil.

Gonzalo Higuain: 9 Goals

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    Gonzalo Higuain is the top goalscorer among a group of world class finishers in the South American region of World Cup qualifying with nine total goals.

    Luis Suarez (Uruguay), Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Falcao (Colombia) all trail the Argentinian.  The former two with eight goals and the latter with six.  

    Falcao might well catch up; however, as he's played two fewer games than Higuain, eight to to Higuain's 10. 

    Regardless of who ends up on top, all of these footballers have the potential to light up Brazil in 2014. 

Uruguay: 12 Yellow Cards

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    Uruguay is the only team in the South American region of World Cup Qualifying to have three players with four yellow cards in the competition so far.

    Maximiliano Pereira, Luis Suarez and Diego Lugano are three of only seven players to have received at least four total cards.  Only one player, Ronald Raldes (Bolivia) has five cards. 

    They will need to find a way to stay on the pitch to help Uruguay advance into the later stages of the tournament. 

Cristiano Ronaldo: 1 Goal in 5 Games

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    There is no questioning the accomplishments of Cristiano Ronaldo at the club level. 

    Some detractors, though, suggest he is not as impressive on the international stage.  So far in European World Cup qualifying Ronaldo is providing a bit of fodder for the aforementioned critics.

    While this is a relatively small sample, Ronaldo has only scored once in his five games played so far in qualifying for Portugal.  He has be shown two yellow cards in addition to the scant scoring figures.

    Will Ronaldo's scorching Real Madrid form carry Portugal deep in the World Cup?

Neymar: 41 Goals on 128 Shots in 2012-2013

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    With Brazil hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Neymar is in excellent position to win the illustrious Golden Ball.

    In all of his competitive matches for both Brazil and Santos FC during the 2012-2013 football year, Neymar was able to score 41 goals on 128 shots.  That's a conversion rate of just about 32 percent. 

    The Brazilian played 48 games including 17 for country and 31 for club. 

    Anything less than a victory in the finals will be a disappointment for Neymar and Brazil. 

Javier Hernandez: Five Goals

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    Javier Hernandez is the leading goalscorer for Mexico in World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region so far. 

    His movement and ability to finish in traffic with one touch is a massive part of Mexico's tactics going forward. 

    The other high-scoring Mexicans only have two goals.

    With aspirations to win the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, Mexico will look to Hernandez to carry the scoring load.