Is South Africa the dullest World Cup ever?

Brazil v North Korea World Cup

When North Korea provide the highlights and there are 1.64 goals a game something is wrong

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 08:08 ON Wed 16 Jun 2010

So has the earth moved for you? No, thought not. Nor for us either. Face it, the 2010 World Cup is turning into the most tedious spectacle in the tournament's 80-year history.

Take yesterday's Pool G matches between Portugal and Ivory Coast and then Brazil and North Korea. These four teams make up the so-called "Group of Death", but when the Portuguese played the West Africans the only people in mortal danger were the fans – through boredom. This was a game every bit as desperate as the 0-0 scoreline suggests with Cristian Ronaldo looking more like a player in a pub team than a Portuguese superstar. And even Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, a menacing figure in attack during the Blues' double-winning campaign last season, failed to lift the match from its torpor when he came on after the break. Drogba's appearance on the pitch raised the biggest cheer of the game (he broke his arm on June 4) but when presented with a chance to break the boredom near the end with a goal he fluffed his shot.  

Brazil and North Korea raised the tempo when they played in the evening, though even the South Americans were a shadow of their forebears who have illuminated past World Cups. Ranked No1 in the Fifa world rankings, it took the Brazilians 55 minutes to break down the Koreans (105th in the world) and even that goal might have had a stroke of luck about it. Coming from a Brazilian – Maicon, in this case – people called it a moment of pure genius, but if it had been an Englishman, Irishman or Slovakian it would more likely have been labelled a fluke. Only Maicon knows, as he whipped in the ball from almost on the Korean goalline, whether his intention was to shoot for goal or tee up a teammate in the six-yard box. Whatever, the ball swerved past Korean keeper Ri Myong-guk at the near post for a goal that Brazil barely deserved. But at least with Brazil one up they began to play some decent football and the second goal was a gem as Robinho combined with Elano for the latter to rifle the ball into the Korean net.

North Korea, playing in their first World Cup since 1966, got the consolation goal they deserved in the 89th minute when Ji Yun-nam tamed a high ball, surged into the Brazilian area and smashed a shot past Julio Cesar.

It was probably the most entertaining match of the tournament so far, which isn't saying much, but at least it had a few goals in a World Cup that is on course to go down as the most barren ever. So far 23 goals have been scored in 14 games, that's an average of 1.64 a game. The worst World Cup in terms of fewest goals scored was Italia '90 when each game produced 2.212 goals. After that it's Germany 2006 (2.297) and then Korea/Japan 2002 with 2.516.

The most prolific tournament for goals was the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland when the fans were treated to an average of 5.385 a game. But 1958 was the last time a World Cup coughed up more than three goals a game on average. If the 2010 generation doesn't wish to be remembered as the most impotent ever in front of goal they're going to have to go some in the remaining 50 games, increasing the current average of 1.64 a game to 2.4. That would work out as 2.23 goals per game for the 2010 World Cup, fractionally ahead of 1990. But, look on the bright side, the lack of goals at Italia 1990 have long since been forgotten, and all fans remember is Gazza crying. Perhaps Wayne Rooney should burst into tears. · 

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