Where Are all the Goals From the Crazy New Soccer Ball?

For all the talk about Adidas’s Jabulani ball bending too much and making life miserable for keepers, look at the goals per game: only 1.67 as of this writing. True, that’s after just 9 games and true, opening-round games present their own weird environment. Still, the lowest overall goals-per-game average in World Cup history was 2.21 in 1990. (The highest, in 1954, was 5.38.)

Some observers note that the new ball is leading keepers to punch away a lot more balls rather than try to catch them. It may also be that the Jabulani is harder for outfield players to handle as well. I am sure you all have a million other thoughts …


OJ

with all that ghastly racket going on the players must be struggling to think; or at lest hear each other calls. its a form of white noise torture.

Trekkie

Not to mention that the quality of goals is hardly inspiring... i.e., the UK keeper's gift goal to the USA, the own goal by Denmark earlier today, a few penalty goals, etc.

BzzZzzzzzzzZzzzzzzZzZzzzzzzz.

Judging from the number of shots that have sailed over the nets, I wonder if the balls have been filled with helium.

Elier

Goalies and all other players agree on this: it's not a soccer ball, it's a beach ball. Goalies can't catch it and even good technical players can't control it. We are having a world cup, a once every four years showcase of the world's best players, being played with a beach ball. It's outrageous.

Jeffrey

The players didn't really care too much. They were asked their opinion, and the media made it seem like it was a strong opinion. In reality, they probably preferred an old ball, but only because it's what they were used to. In the end, it doesn't matter.

Speaking of which...why are we talking about it?

Eric M. Jones

Dube:

The World Cup stadium is at al altitude higher than 1750 meters. (Denver is 1600 meters). So dragging those oxygen bottles up and down the field will slow things down a bit.

No judgement about the new ball should take place in those conditions.

forager

As you suggest, the ball may be harder to handle. I would be interested in knowing # of shots as related to # of goals, comparing this year with past years.

Mike

Players adjust quickly to the game ball. I've played where the ball felt like a stinking kick ball. After that first kick, you almost auto adjust.

Doc

We've already had a muffed catch by a goalie resulting in a goal (England) and a totally missed catch of a "soft" kick (Algeria). Were these due to the ball? Sure looked like it, but I know very little about high-level soccer (I mean, football).

Ethan D

Hard to say that i observed any real increase in "action" on the new ball so far in the Cup. Certainly the direct spot kicks have largely been going high/wide, though this is generally for a lack of curve and dip - i.e. not enough action. This is probably due more to the caliber of player we have seen thus far in the tourney. With the exception of Germany and Argentina, the technical wizards haven't been unleashed just yet.

Aroon Vijaykar

Well, one could then equally hypothesize that ball handling and shooting has also been made more difficult by the Jabulani ball, since the same factors of speed and bounce come into play. I think I see evidence of this in the number of shots and headers that have been sailing over the crossbar and the number of long balls that have been fumbled or missed by the receiving player due to misjudgment. I would go as far as to say that the ball affects strikers more than goalies, manifesting itself in the low scoring rate. Objections?

Dave

Watching Robert Green's error in the US-England match, it seemed like something was very odd about the ball for him.

Bob T

Probably the biggest reason for the low scoring in the first few matches is that the teams aren't trying very hard to score. Teams are terrified of an early loss in group play, so they pack it in, and don't attack much.

DaveyNC

Other than Germany and Argentina, no real offensive wizards have played yet. Holland notched 2 today, though they were of the "lucky" variety.

I think the lack of action on the ball can be attributed to the altitude as much as anything. Curve balls don't break as hard in Denver, either.

brazilfan

stephen, brace yourself - this world cup will set a record for lowest number of goals scored per game. it won't be as bad as 1.67 once the likes of brazil, spain and portugal finish their group games, but the likely match-ups in the 2nd round and after that virtually guarantee tight games throughout the world cup. it has to do not so much with the ball - although today's netherlands v. denmark gane showed how difficult it is to strike well and keep it down to try and score - or the keepers' expected nightmares in dealing with the new ball as the fact that this has been another very long season for club players in europe, all of whom have one or more players in the 32 national teams on display in south africa - with a record number of games played in almost every national european league. that tiredness, combined with a more tactical, cautious approach to every game by most major teams - most notably by brazil coach dunga (ironically) - means we can expect (with few exceptions) this goal drought to continue for a while.

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Richard, Uk

Trekkie- 'the UK keeper's'

The UK does not have a team in the world cup. There are in fact four different footballing nations in the UK. The USA were lucky to scrape a point against England.

N R

Say what you want, but the US made a bunch of great shots, instead of blaming the ball, you should be blaming the goalie, I don't think the ball could have that massive of an influence on the performance of a professional goalie

chris

Just mentioning: Both, the worldcup with the highest and with the lowest average scoring, were won by Germany. Coincidence? Probably yes.
btw.: I don't believe that this ball is worse to handel than any other one...despite the complaints of Nike and Puma sponsored keepers.

Ed

Clearly they should go back to the Telstar, so everyone can whine about the heavy, dead ball.

Seriously, the ball has been available for almost 6 months, more than enough time for the best players in the world to adjust to any minor idiosyncrasies.

assumo

For those saying that the altitude should affect the curvature of the ball and lead to more or fewer goals, three of the venues this year are in South Africa's arid lowlands, and the games played so far there have not yielded higher scores.

I wouldn't be surprised if the low scores have something to do with the level of competition or improvements in the ranking and group drawing system (although, I admittedly am not well-acquainted with the methods of international ranking). If the matchups are more even, you get more contested shots and fewer runaway victories. Of course we could also be seeing a run of low scores that would be balanced by a string of blowouts to bring it closer to the previous averages.