While the World Cup undoubtedly throws up marvellous games each time the tournament rolls around every four years, there will always be the odd stinker here and there that brings us back down to Earth.
Stalemates get the better of every team over the years. Whether it be poor quality, a lack of rhythm throughout or fans boing their own team – so says Wayne Rooney, anyway – we can’t always be saved from a boring stalemate on the biggest stage.
With a few worrying blanks in front of goal already in 2022, here’s the competition’s relationship with goalless draws.
The record for most goalless draws at a World Cup is shared by four different iterations of the tournament; 1982, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Each competition had seven goalless draws apiece.
Early editions of the World Cup did not cater to those who wanted cagey matches instead of goal-filled spectacles. There were no goalless ties in 1930, 1934, 1938, 1950 or 1954 respectively, but two United Kingdom nations ensured there were two to three hours of boredom at the 1958 event. Wales, in their first World Cup appearance, held eventual finalists Sweden, while England tied with Brazil.
Goalless spectacles began to grow by volume before 1982 rolled around. England’s campaign came to an end in the second group stage courtesy of two goalless draws, though the semi finals and final thankfully served up plenty of entertainment.
It wouldn’t be until 2006 where we’d see the same level of inefficiency in front of goal, with the likes of Argentina, France and the Netherlands all drawing blanks. England and Switzerland would be knocked out on penalties after goalless draws in the knockout stages.
While the 2010 and 2014 still delivered drama for the masses, they also racked up blanks galore with another seen apiece.
Despite their being over 70 goalless draws in World Cup history, each tournament has still averaged more than two goals a game. The highest average came in 1954, where 140 goals were scored in 26 games at 5.38 a game.
The most frugal World Cup was the 1990 tournament, where 115 goals were scored at just 2.21 goals a game.
*Goalless draws at the 2022 World Cup so far.