THE BALL – To the attention of Portugal: twenty percent of the champions lost games in the group stage (World Cup 2022)
The National Team could have ended the group stage as the only one to add nine points, but the desire with South Korea threw to the ground the possibility of being equal to the feats of 1966 and 2006, World Cups in which Portugal won the three opening games . The defeat made a dent, of course, mainly because it came after Ronaldo’s controversial words following the substitution, as well as the goals missed by the captain during the 65 minutes he was on the field.
It is not, however, the end of the world. If we look back at the 22 editions of the World Championships, we will see that only three of the future winners of the competition ended the group stage with three victories. Brazil in 1970 and 2002 and France in 1998. And no less than four were defeated, such as Portugal, in one of the three opening games: the West Germany in 1954 (3-8 with Hungary) and 1974 (0-1 with the GDR ), Argentina in 1978 (0-1 with Italy) and Spain in 2010 (0-1 with Switzerland).
We are not making excuses for defeats or draws in the initial phase, but the truth is that almost all world champions lose points in this period and almost 20% are even defeated. Between 1934 and 1954, there was no group stage like today.
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