BigSoccer poster bmoregnr says in his post “Winning/Scoring First is Key- Stats”
“Since the beginning of group play in 1950, teams that have won their first games have advanced to the second round 81.1 percent of the time. Teams that lost their first games advanced only 18.8 percent of the time. Teams that tied advanced to the second round 62.5 percent of the time.
Teams that have scored first have a record of 418-87-97, a 77.4 winning percentage.”
Other BigSoccer posters were quick to point out that many of those years had differnt formats. For example, the current system has groups of four teams with the top 2 advancing in each group. There were many years where the best X # of third place finishers also advanced.
Regardless, the main theme still holds true. Winning the first game is crucial. And scoring first is the key to winning the game. Otherwise you face an uphill battle as you are chasing the teams in front of you, and at some point a sense of desperation kicks in as you get to the “must-win” scenarios. We’ll see how the “big” teams (Germany in particular who is playing really poorly now) fare in the opening weekend since the pressure on them to win and advance will ramp up quicker than against any other team.