A lot was made of Russia vs. Saudi Arabia being the lowest-ranked World Cup opener (Russia in 70th and Saudi Arabia in 67th at time of publishing) but that didn’t stop the goals flowing – at least from one end. But what other records could be broken in 2018? Here are five we think are up for grabs.
All-time goalscorer in World Cup finals Muller NOT HAPPENING!
I’ll be honest and tell you I’m a big Ronaldo fan. I willed him on to beat Gerd Müller’s record and he did in 2006, even if he was significantly out of shape. I was gutted when Klose overtook him in 2014 but that’s what records are there for. The current tally sits at 16 and while most players in the upper echelons of the all-time list are long retired, there are a few who could snatch it this year. Muller is in joint 8th place with 10 and could take the crown if he scores 7 in Russia. Considering he’s averaged 5 a tournament, it’s not totally unfeasible. Colombia’s James is on 6 but scoring 11 when no one has scored more than 8 since 1970 will be unlikely.
Most World Cup wins
Brazil sits on top with 5 but they can look to beat their own record if they can overcome the spectre of 2014. They succumbed to their worst World Cup defeat in history and in front of their home fans. Neymar no longer carries the same burden that weighed him down that time and his goals and influence will be vital if they want to win O Sexto. Germany has the chance to equal the record if they become the first nation since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to retain the World Cup. Should they achieve this, they would also extend their records for most consecutive finishes in the top three, four, and eight.
Oldest player DONE!
At 43 years and 3 days, Faryd Mondragón became the oldest player to feature in the World Cup finals when he played for Colombia against Japan on 24th June 2014. That was to be his last World Cup and one man is set to take that record from him: Essam El Hadary. The 45-year-old captain has 158 caps for Egypt and sits in 12th place in the all-time international caps list. If he plays in all three group matches, he will overtake UAE’s Adnan Al-Talyani in 11th place. A run to the World Cup final would put him into 9th but I’m probably jumping the gun there.
UPDATE: Essam El Hadary got his 159th cap and became the oldest World Cup finals player but was unable to stop Uruguay grabbing a late winner in a 1-0 defeat.
Most penalty shootouts won
Germany and Argentina are both level with 4 wins each. Argentina has the distinction of playing the most (5), most played in one tournament (2 – joint with Spain, Costa Rica, and the Netherlands), and the most won in one tournament (2 in 1990). But they aren’t as strong as they used to be and it’s been 28 years since they last lifted the trophy. Maradona was the captain that time and not even his godly hands could craft a World Cup winning team when he coached them in 2010. The team that stopped them? Germany. But penalty shootouts are perceived as a lottery for a reason. Anything could happen.
Most goals scored in a tournament
Since the introduction of the backpass rule after a dismal World Cup in 1990, tournament goals shot up by nearly 23% in 1994 and 21.2% between 1994 and 1998. The numbers declined after that but 2014’s tally equalled the record set in 1998 with 171 goals. Can this be broken in 2018? Russia’s 5-goal demolition of Saudi Arabia leaves us hopeful. This might the biggest chance to do it, as you’d expect this to be the last World Cup featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Thomas Müller, and along with James and Neymar, there’s potential for a lot of goals.
What records would you like to see get broken in this year’s World Cup? Let us know in the comments.