England’s World Cup journey by the numbers
England have reached semi-finals through hard work, organisation and playing to their strengths
Harry Kane leads England’s celebrations after their win over Sweden. Photograph: Getty Images
England are in the World Cup semi-finals and the question remains: how did they get there? Gareth Southgate’s men have undoubtedly benefited from good fortune but their success has also been down to hard work, organisation, playing to their strengths and the contributions of individuals, as a statistical breakdown of their tournament shows.
Note: these stats take into account Belgium and France have played one game more.
England are the joint second-highest scorers at the World Cup having found the back of the net 11 times in five matches. Only Belgium have more with 14.
1) Belgium 14; 2) England 11; 2) Russia 11; 4) Croatia 10; 5) France 10
England’s path to goal has hardly been free flowing - five goals have come directly or indirectly from set-pieces, with another three from penalties. That is the highest proportion among the initial semi-finalists and justifies Southgate’s decision to put a strong emphasis on set-pieces routines.
Goals directly from set pieces (exc penalties)
1) England 3; 2) France 2; 2) Portugal 2; 2) Russia 2; 2) Sweden 2; 2) Australia 2; 7) 13 teams on 1 (inc Belgium and Croatia)
Goals indirectly resulting from set pieces (exc penalties)
1) Colombia 2; 1) Uruguay 2; 1) England 2; 1) France 2; 1) Poland 2; 1) Russia 2; 6) Eight teams on 1 (inc Croatia)
Goals from penalties
1) England 3; 2) France 2; 2) Sweden 2; 2) Australia 2; 5) 12 teams on 1 (inc Belgium and Croatia)
As well as targeting how they were going to score goals, England have been ruthless in their execution. A 22 per cent conversion rate is the joint-second highest at the tournament, with top scorer Harry Kane’s six goals coming from just six shots on target.
1) Russia 29%; 2) Colombia 22%; 2) England 22%; 4) Japan 19%; 4) Belgium 19%
Top scorer (by player)
If Croatia are looking for a way to stop England scoring they could do worse than forcing their players on to their left foot - none of England’s 11 goals have been scored with that body part.
England’s goals broken down by body part
Right foot 5; Left foot 0; Head 5; Back of heel 1
England have also been relatively solid at the back, conceding just four goals in five games. However, Southgate’s men have only kept one clean sheet.
Fewest goals conceded
1) Denmark 2; 1) Peru 2; 1) Iran 2; 2) Uruguay 3; 2) Colombia 3; 2) Brazil 3; 2) South Korea 3; 30) Nine teams on 4 (inc England, France and Croatia)
Interestingly given their defensive strength, England have made relatively few tackles - 26. Only three teams - Nigeria, Panama and Senegal - have made fewer.
Fewest tackles made
1) Senegal 17; 2) Panama 18; 3) Nigeria 22; 4) England 26; 5) Spain 27
England’s lack of tackling suggests they have been very good in terms of positioning and anticipation, which also speaks highly of the work undertaken by Southgate and his staff. And it’s fortunate England have not had to tackle too often given their lack of efficiency in doing so at this tournament.
England tackles that gained the ball 8; England tackles that did not gain the ball 18
England have attempted the eighth most dribbles at the World Cup and fewer than any of the initial semi-finalists. But that does not mean they are lazy - Southgate’s men are fifth for distance covered and average distance covered, showing they run a lot, just not necessarily with the ball.
1) Brazil 169; 2) France 118; 3) Belgium 114; 4) Spain 94; 5) Mexico 84; 8) England 72
1) Belgium 627.33km; 2) Russia 624.99km; 3) France 607.50km; 4) Croatia 580.66km; 5) England 565.06km
Average distance covered
1) Russia 61.26km; 2) Belgium 60.36km; 3) France 58.34km; 4) Croatia 55.90km; 5) England 53.61km
England’s willingness to work hard is also reflected in the number of sprints they have . Again this appears to be a case of Southgate working to his squad’s strengths given it is full of young, dynamic, fast players. Three of them are in the top four for top-speed across the tournament.
1) Russia 1983; 2) Croatia 1946; 3) Belgium 1945; 4) France 1891; 5) Brazil 1734; 6) England 1726
Average top speed
1) Morocco 28.9km/h; 2) Poland 28.7km/h; 3) England 28.7km/h; 4) Colombia 28.6km/h; 4) Denmark 28.6km/h
Top speed (by player)
1) Cristiano Ronaldo (Por) 34km/h; 1) Ante Rebic (Cro) 34km/h; 3) Luis Advincula (Per) 33.8km/h; 3) Marcus Rashford (Eng) 33.8km/h; 5) Santiago Arias (Col) 33.6km/h; 6) Kyle Walker (Eng) 33.5km/h; 6) Jesse Lingard (Eng) 33.5km/h
Not surprisingly, Spain have completed more passes than any other nation at the World Cup, and by some distance. But among the rest England are placed high, with only 11% of their total number of passes ‘long’ in nature.
1) Spain 3120; 2) Belgium 2776; 3) Brazil 2501; 4) France 2331; 5) England 2318
England’s passes completed by type
Short 530; Medium 1535; Long 253
In terms of passing, the contribution of two players in particular catch the eye: John Stones, who has completed the seventh highest number of passes of anyone at the World Cup, and Kieran Trippier, who has contributed the joint fourth-highest number of key passes.
Passes completed (by player)
Key passes completed (by player)
1) Neymar (Br) 81; 2) Isco (Spa) 78; 3) Kevin de Bruyne (Bel) 63; 4) Kieran Trippier (Eng) 51; 4) Xherdan Shaqiri (Swi) 51
England have not been the most frequent crossing team at this World Cup. That has instead been Germany.
1) Germany 109; 2) Brazil 94; 3) Croatia 91; 4) Russia 86; 4) Belgium 86; 6) England 81
England have completed 22 of their 81 crosses with seven of those delivered by Tripper, further highlighting the importance of the right wing-back.
Crosses completed (by player)
England have collected only five yellow cards and no red cards. One of the reasons for this is because they have not given away many fouls, something Southgate called for ahead of the tournament to avoid his team giving away needless free-kicks. In this area, too, his players have responded, with England the ‘cleanest’ team of those remaining at the tournament.
1) Russia 95; 2) Belgium 88; 3) France 79; 4) Croatia 78; 5) Sweden 65; 14) England 53