La Roja lean to the left
Matchday 3 witnesses Iraq attempt to do what no team has managed in two years, seven months and 33 matches: beat Spain. With the hosts aiming to kick-start their campaign against a New Zealand team still smarting from that Spanish masterclass, FIFA.com takes a statistical look at the matches in prospect.
per cent of Spain's five goals against New Zealand were created on the left wing and, as Castrol Performance Analysts found, this was no accident. The European champions directed 43 per cent of their attacks at the overburdened Kiwi right-back, compared to 29 per cent down the other flank and 28 per cent through the middle. This reliance on the left is a feature of the current Spain side, with 40 per cent of their attacks in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa qualifying also having been channelled down the same side. Dynamic left-back Joan Capdevila did more than most to underline the wisdom in this strategy, overlapping continuously and teeing up two goals with inch-perfect crosses.
per cent of Iraq's passes against South Africa found a team-mate, leaving the Asian champions with the unwanted tag of South Africa 2009's most wasteful team. Spain unsurprisingly led the way in passing accuracy with an 89 per cent success rate, while Castrol's analysis showed Egypt (88), Italy (87), Brazil (84) and New Zealand (80) following close behind. The Iraqis, by contrast, saw two out of every five passes end up with an opponent, a miserable trend that cannot continue they are to have any hope of halting the Spanish juggernaut.
goals, an average of four per game, have ensured a spectacular start to the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009. This free-scoring opening to the tournament mirrors exactly the start to the 2005 edition, which bodes well given that Germany witnessed the highest-scoring 'Festival of Champions' in history, with an overall average of 3.5 goals per game. Fortunately, the quality has more than matched the quantity, with the likes of Fernando Torres, Mohamed Shawky and Giuseppe Rossi providing early contenders for goal of the tournament.
yellow or red cards: this disciplinary 'clean sheet' had only ever been achieved in four FIFA Confederations Cup matches prior to South Africa 2009. Credit therefore must go to Spain and New Zealand for emerging with just such an unblemished record from their opening day encounter. The All Whites may reflect, though, that such even-tempered encounters do not suit them. After all, New Zealand were also involved in one of the four previous matches with no cards of either colour, against France in 2003. The outcome? An identical 5-0 defeat.