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The Women's World Cup - Why So Few Goals?


The Women's World Cup - Why So Few Goals?

The start of the Women's World Cup has not been devoid of intrigue, but anyone who's been following the early weeks of the group stage would be hard-pressed not to ask why there've been so few goals.

At this stage we've seen a total of thirty-five goals scored in eighteen matches, an average of 1.94 goals per game. Indeed that figure is low, but it becomes even more alarming when you delve into the distribution of the goals scored.

Only one single game has thus far seen both sides find the back of the net and that didn't happen until Sunday; a genuinely puzzling stat and which could be partially explained by the fact that the pace of development of women's football has been extremely unequal across the globe, even more so than in the men's game, which is leading to a high volume of one-sided encounters.

For example, Spain went 3-0 up on Costa Rica after just 27 minutes; Germany battered Morocco 6-0; Brazil beat Panama 4-0 and the USA eased past Vietnam by three goals to nil. All of these results are exemplary of countries with women who've been playing the game for far longer than most others putting an abnormally high number, compared to the men's game, of juvenile football nations to the sword.

Add to that the fact this is the first edition of the Women's World Cup containing an expanded number of 32 teams, up from 24 the last two tournaments, and you're seeing an increased frequency of games between more established sides and teams newer to the game.

While the lopsided nature of women's football is no doubt contributing to low volume of goals at the tournament it doesn't paint the entire picture. South Korea drew a blank against Colombia; New Zealand failed to score against Philippines; Portugal couldn't score against Netherlands and we've seen three 0-0s.

It could simply be that we're experiencing an anomaly of a tournament in terms of goal output, something that is bound to happen in sport. The last two editions of the Women's World Cup both saw an eventual average of 2.81 goals scored per game so the low scoring nature of this tournament is not an ingrained feature of women's football.

Beyond that you're looking at intangible factors like travel, location and ability (or lack of) of some teams to navigate the pressurised, cagey nature of World Cup football.

There is a good chance that some of this irons itself out in the knockout stages as the games start become more evenly matched, and we hope that will be the case for entertainment's sake, but there have been enough signs in the group stages to suggest that we may still be asking the same question in a few week's time.

The Betting Angle

Approaching this from a betting angle, it seems like under 2.5 match goals will consistently be a smart selection for any game not involving one of the game's powerhouses - the USA, Germany, Spain etc - or any game not involving one of the game's great minnows - Vietnam, Zambia, Costa Rica etc.

For example, Canada face the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday and the under 2.5 goals selection comes in at 1/2 with SkyBet, but if you wanted to take this a step further and pick the favourites Canada to win a cagey encounter, as we've seen consistently throughout this tournament, you could find the Canadians to win and under 2.5 match goals at 2/1.

Now, if you're really looking for a long shot you could look at the sixteen games that are set to take place from Wednesday morning to Sunday morning and consider that seventeen of the first eighteen games saw 'BTTS - No' occur, which means if that trend is set to continue then there's a non-zero chance that all sixteen of this week's forthcoming matches could see at least one of the two teams draw a blank.

Such a bet, while most definitely still a long shot, would see you awarded odds of 1086/1 with SkyBet.

Whichever way you want to work this it seems wise that for the remainder of the group stages at least you centre your bets around an anticipated lack of goals or an anticipated one-sided encounter.