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Stats Roundup: Costa Rica had the best defense at the World Cup and one of the worst attacks

July 11, 2014

A stingy defense helped carry La Sele to the quarterfinals, conceding less than half a goal per game during the 2014 World Cup.

The Ticos gave up 0.4 goals per game, ahead of Argentina’s mark of 0.5 goals against per game. Even if Argentine goalie Sergio Romero shuts out Germany in the Sunday finale, he can only hope to lower that rate to 0.43 goals per game. On the flip side, statistics revealed that Costa Rica had one of the weakest offensive performances in the tournament. Averaging exactly one goal per game ranked the Ticos as the 10th worst scoring team in the cup. Costa Rica was tied with four other teams, including sides that had very poor performances such as Australia and South Korea.

Costa Rican goalie Keylor Navas picked up a nomination for the tournament’s best goalie award for his efforts Friday. The two other Golden Glove finalists are Germany’s Manuel Neuer and Argentina’s Romero. They will be playing in the World Cup final Sunday.

The highest scoring team is finalist Germany, assisted by their 7-1 blowout of Brazil and a 4-0 triumph over Portugal in the German’s World Cup opener. Germany averaged 2.83 goals per game, ahead of Colombia’s 2.4 and three other teams at exactly two. The championship will pit the statistical best offense in Brazil against the second best defense.

Here’s a look back at how all teams fared in Brazil, prior to this weekend’s finale and third-place match. Click on a country to get a closer look at its team’s World Cup statistics. Hold your mouse over a country to see demographic and historic information.*

U.S. goalie Tim Howard currently leads the tournament in saves, buoyed by his historic game against Belgium. German keeper Manuel Neuer, with 25 saves, seems poised to overtake him in the championship game. Navas ranked fifth in a three-way tie at 21 saves.

Colombia’s James Rodríguez is the current leading scorer of the tournament at six. German forward Thomas Müller is right behind him with five goals.

Both Rodríguez, Müller and Brazil’s injured star Neymar are on a shortlist for the World Cup’s best player. Seven players participating in the championship are on the list announced by FIFA on Friday.

Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Ángel Di María from Argentina are finalists. Captain Messi has scored four goals heading into the final.

Germany has four representatives, led by skipper Phillip Lahm, Müller, Toni Kroos and Mats Hummels.

Neymar, who scored four goals before he suffered a fractured vertebrae, Rodríguez and the Netherlands’ veteran forward Arjen Robben make up the 10.

*Demographic information is from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. World Cup statistics are from FIFA.com. One note for English readers, software limitations mean England is shown as the United Kingdom on the map.

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