World Cup: Round of 16 Passing and Possession Stats

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 29: David Villa of Spain is tackled by Ricardo Costa of Portugal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Spain and Portugal at Green Point Stadium on June 29, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

As I've mentioned before, the most critical part of a soccer game is when the score is tied - it's then that we can evaluate which team truly controlled the play. A good way to determine who controlled the play is to look at completed pass totals and see which team had the greatest percentage of total passes. (An even better way is to weight completed passes by how difficult they were to complete, which eliminates the common complaint that a team can rack up passes just by working the ball around in their own end of the field.)

This table shows how much of each game was spent tied, and the percentage of the passing and weighted passing that the winning team had while the score was tied:

Winner Mins Tied % of Passes Weighted % Overall Poss% Loser
Spain 62.1 70 73 61 Portugal
Uruguay 20.2 62 70 45 South Korea
Paraguay 124.5 63 61 58 Japan
Argentina 25 65 60 51 Mexico
Holland 17.3 64 60 52 Slovakia
Ghana 39.1 54 57 49 USA
Brazil 34.0 49 50 50 Chile
Germany 19.7 45 41 48 England

The best overall performance in this group was by Spain, who dominated an excellent Portuguese team even if the drubbing didn't show up on the scoreboard; the weakest was by Ghana or perhaps by Germany, who faced a better English team and didn't control the play.

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