South Africa by the Numbers
Spain became the first World Cup champion to keep a clean sheet from the quarterfinals on. The team allowed two goals throughout the entire tournament, matching the record imposed by France in 1998 and equaled by Italy in 2006. The ‘Red Fury’ also became the first eventual champions to lose their opening World Cup match.
The Dutch played great soccer, which is not up for discussion, but they also played it rough! The Oranje totaled 126 fouls in 7 matches, an average of 18 fouls per match. North Korea was the team with the least amount, with a mere 26.
Japan’s young star Keisuke Honda was the player who committed the most fouls, 19 of them. Sergio Ramos and Mark van Bommel followed him with 17 a piece. Nevertheless, players in South Africa were “nicer” than in 2006, with 261 fouls called and 17 red cards, 9 under the 26 awarded back in Germany. The player who fell victim to the most fouls was Andres Iniesta, 26 times.
Howard Webb was not shy about bestowing cards in the 2010 World Cup Final, calling out a total of 14 yellows and a red, and many think there should have been a few more. It was (by far!) the championship match with the most cards ever awarded.
Sergio Ramos was the player who dribbled past most opponents in South Africa, beating out 31 rivals. Ahead of Podolski (27), Iniesta (26), and Villa and Messi (25 each).
Xavi Hernandez, the brains of the Spanish team, was exceptional in his passes. He gave 669, 104 more than his closest challenger, German midfield star Bastian Schweinsteiger. Of his 669 passes, 42 were centers that finished off as a shot on goal, second in the category, led by Diego Forlan with 50.
Die Mannschaft put 22 of their players on the field in South Africa, the highest number by any team. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Slovenia, New Zealand and Korea Republic used only 15 players throughout the entire tournament.
Despite a slow start in ticket sales, South Africa became the World Cup with the second-most visitors ever, with a total of 3.18 million fans. The impressive number is second only to the United States' 3.59 million in 1994.
It had been 32 years since a World Cup final was decided in extra time. The last one was Argentina vs. Germany in 1978, won by the South Americans 3-1. Equivalent to Spain, that was Argentina’s first world championship. This was the sixth time that extra time was necessary in a World Cup final.
The only thing missing in the 2010 World Cup were goals. The last one, scored by Andrés Iniesta, was the 145th of the tournament, becoming the lowest number ever for a World Cup in which 32 teams play 64 matches.
The fastest goal scored in South Africa was by Thomas Muller, who netted the first one for Germany in their 4-0 routing of Argentina in the quarterfinals on 2 minutes and 39 seconds played.
Only 3 players scored all 8 goals for Spain, David Villa, Andrés Iniesta and Carles Puyol, a new record-low for a World Cup champion.
Bayern Munich was the individual club whose players scored the most; 12 goals in South Africa were netted by players in the Bundesliga giants’ roster. Second was UEFA Champions League champions Inter Milan (9), then Atlético Madrid (8). By nation, players from Spain’s La Liga led the tally with 29 goals.
Spain did not score much, but sure tried to! They led all national teams with a total of 121 shots, 107 on goal. David Villa was the player with the most tries, with an average of 6.1 shots per match, followed by Asamoah Gyan, who had a total of 33, for an average of 5.3.
Uruguay had 46 shots on goal to lead the category; nevertheless, Germany had the best accuracy, with a total of 16 goals scored.
Kaká, Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dirk Kuyt and Mesut Oezil led in assists, with three each. This allowed Mueller to be awarded the “Golden Boot” as the tournament’s top-scorer, being the tie-breaker in the four-way equal finish at the top with five goals, along with Sneijder, Forlan and Villa.
Van Persie was caught off-side 11 times, making him the leader of this less than prestigious category.
South America achieved an impeccable feat, with each of their five teams in the World Cup moving on to the second round; three moved on to the quarterfinals, but only one to the semis.
On the other hand, Europe had six teams in the quarterfinals, their lowest number ever. Nevertheless, they owned the final, and another European champion was crowned.
Holland officially became the classic “second-best”. No other nation has ever been to the final three times, and lost each one of them. Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia appeared in two finals, losing them both.
As surprising as it may seem to some, match officials were 96.75% accurate in their calls leading up to the final. Analyses were made after the end of the semifinals, Goals decisions: of 139 goals scored, 136 were correctly allowed and 3 were incorrectly allowed; disallowed goals: 13 were correctly disallowed and 2 were incorrectly disallowed. In the first 62 matches, there were 638 shots on goal, and 5 goal line decisions needed to be made. Four out of the five decisions were made correctly.