World Cup winners will be team with best wide players, Wenger says

AL RAYYAN, Qatar, December 4. (Reuters) – In the World Cup group stages, the number of goals scored in open play from the wings has increased by a staggering 83 percent since the last tournament. competition.

Discussing world governing body FIFA’s technical analysis of the first round, Wenger, who heads its global football development, said there was a tendency for defenses to protect the center of the final third, meaning teams were forced to go left and right channels. create chances.

“Teams block the center of the pitch, so they open up more on the wings … it means the best teams with the best players have the best chance of winning the World Cup,” Wenger said at the launch in Qatar. sunday

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Juergen Klinsmann, who is a member of FIFA’s technical research panel, said the pattern of defensive formations also had an impact on attempts at goal from outside the area.

“It’s really hard for teams to break through the middle,” he said. “The defensive and midfield lines are so close to each other that there is no way to pull the trigger.”

Due to this defense model, from 2018 At the World Cup in Russia, there was a 33% reduction in ‘takes’, or players who control the ball, run at defenders and beat them, and many were sent out wide.

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Klinsmann said the data showed it favored South American teams more than Europeans.

“It’s their way of doing things. It’s still the love of a street football game… kids going head-to-head against each other. So it’s no wonder they’re leading,” he said.

Another big change was how often goalkeepers were able to receive passes on their feet, going from 443 times in the Russian group stages to 726 times in Qatar.

“This means that the technical level of a goalkeeper with powerful feet has become a vital element in the quality of a team,” Wenger said.

“He becomes a real part of the team; now they’re part of the team, it’s the modern part of the team.”

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Wenger said the extended stoppage time in Qatar at the end of the game had no impact on the games but could increase the physical demands on the players.

He also said he was in favor of increasing the number of World Cup teams from 32 to 48 in 2026, saying it would encourage countries to raise their domestic standards.

“That means we’ll have to find another 16 good teams,” he said. “I’m convinced that if countries have more access to the world stage, they do more in that country.”

Martin Petty reporting; edited by Clare Fallon

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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