The unexpected protagonist of the Qatar World Cup

Category: Team Analysis

The protagonist of the Qatar 2022 World Cup could be the same as in the Russia 2018 World Cup. The data has been reflecting its dominance in international competitions.


The Russia 2018 World Cup went down in history for a fact so difficult to repeat, being the international event with the most goals from set pieces in history, both by volume and percentage, as a simple starting point of an increasingly established trend. A figure that takes on even greater impact if we check, as we will do below, the corresponding set-piece goals figure from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and what has been happening from 2018 onwards.

Prior to the final, in the last World Cup, as many as 68 goals were tallied in the 62 World Cup matches leading up to the final game, while five of the six goals in the quarterfinal matches and two of the four goals in the semifinals came from set pieces. The importance of a free kick, corner kick or penalty kick in a World Cup has taken on a total significance, much more so than in league competitions, as well as one similar to that usually seen in knockout competitions.

And this will surely continue with similar figures, although it will be very difficult to equal or surpass Russia 2018. This is due to different factors, being the participation of teams with less tradition one of them, far from the resources and talent of countries with much greater potential and tradition, which leads these teams to spend more time defending and interrupting the game, conceding more corners or fouls near the area, or also by their own initiative to work more on these situations when they are in favor to balance the forces that the best teams manage to distance with the ball in play.

In this graph, from which we have subtracted the penalty goals to stay only with goals from corner kicks and direct or indirect fouls, it is easy to see the huge contrast between Brazil 2014 (only 9 of 171 goals were from set pieces, 5.3%) and Russia 2018 (43 of 169, 25.4%), numbers of the latter World Cup that have had continuity in qualifying and international competitions by confederation (Euro, Copa America, Africa Cup, Gold Cup).

With technical staffs becoming increasingly professionalized, including very specific profiles that study every detail of the opponent in all types of plays, it is common in competitions with a knockout format to design and enhance opportunities when a corner or an indirect free kick is taken. As a great example, England, finalists of the last World Cup in Russia, scored up to nine goals from set pieces, breaking Portugal’s record in the 1966 World Cup.

Gareth Southgate’s squad hid their offensive problems to protect their area, attack with space and, above all, make the most of their set pieces, thanks to their great headers (Stones or Maguire) or the extraordinary strike of Kieran Trippier.

We are Driblab, a consultancy specialized in the statistical analysis of players and teams; our work is focused on advising and minimizing risk in professional football decision-making in areas related to talent detection and footballer evaluations. Our database has more than 200,000 players from more than 180 competitions, covering information from all over the world. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Alejandro Arroyo
For Team Analysis we also recommend you:

Offside: teams that cause offsides most often

We analyze the teams that cause the most offsides and whether it is related to the way they defend.

Championship: Best U-22 centrebacks in defensive duels

Winning a duel is fundamental in football. We try to find out which U-22 Championship centrebacks are the best in ground and aerial duels.

Sky Sport Italy: the best goalkeeper claiming crosses

Sky Sport measures Milan’s two goalkeepers on their ability to get out to claim crosses, with Mike Maignan the best goalkeeper in Europe in that regard, thanks to our ‘Aerial Accuracy’ metric.

Counterpressing in Bundesliga 22/23

We display the defensive actions measuring pressure after loss across players and teams of the Bundesliga 22/23.

ON/OFF: Betis and Atlético de Madrid without two of its pillars

We look at the impact Nabil Fekir and Reinildo Mandava have on their respective teams, now that they are set to be sidelined for several months with the same injury.

Visualizing Liverpool’s problems

What data best reflects Liverpool’s decline? They are not few and they are very obvious.

GBE: South American U-20 talents now eligible to play in the UK

There are not many U20 talents in South America who can play in the UK. We look at some of the best who can do so by meeting the requirements set by the GBE filter.

Five years of VAR: are more penalties being awarded?

We go to our database to find out what impact VAR has had on penalties awarded since its inception.

How to use driblabPRO as a team analyst

We use numerous visualisations that the Driblab team has developed over time to facilitate the work of an analyst within a club.

driblabPRO Release Notes December ‘22

In recent weeks we have improved the speed of driblabPRO to offer a more dynamic experience to our users.


Información corporativa

Somos una empresa con sede en Madrid fundada en 2017 por Salvador Carmona y Cristian Coré Ramiro. Desde nuestros inicios nuestro trabajo se ha centrado en el análisis estadístico de datos para ayudar a los clubes en la planificación deportiva. Somos una consultora big data que ofrece servicios personalizados para cada cliente y defiende un modelo de gestión mixto y una comunicación constante para acompañar el día a día de las instituciones. Nuestro punto fuerte es la más amplia cobertura disponible en número de torneos profesionales y juveniles. Para más detalles, póngase en contacto con nosotros.

Colaboramos con:


Hemos aparecido en:

Talk to our speciali