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jonathan wilson on the lack of goals

This interests me particularly because it addresses something I've bitched about at every World Cup, yet thus far I've found this year's edition fairly compelling. ("World Cups tend to be defined as much by their storylines and drama as by the actual quality of the football and so far there has been plenty of that", writes Wilson.)

"World Cup’s lack of goals is down to issues that stretch back decades"

But goals, clearly, are an issue. The pattern has been clear for at least three decades and is predictable and natural. The lack of time available to coaches mean that they, naturally, make a priority of defensive structures over attacking ones: while an under-drilled attack can always conjure a goal from nothing, an under-drilled defence will always concede. Besides, defensive principles are relatively universal; much less adaptation is required than for attacks that can vary wildly....

That is not to blame those sides, who have a duty to do what they can within the laws of the game to achieve the best possible result. But it is perhaps to wonder how dangerous the pattern is for the general spectacle. It is an issue that has faced the World Cup for some time and will become even more prevalent after the expansion to 48 teams. It is an issue in football generally as the gulf between rich and poor grows ever greater and matches even within the same league become ever more unbalanced.