Drama of extra-time and shoot-outs to find stage in South Africa
Seeing a World Cup without extra-time and penalties is about as likely as watching Elvis take the stage for the opening ceremony in South Africa.
And bettors could take advantage of track records from past World, Euro, and Copa America tournaments to get a clearer idea of just how many games will go the distance this time.
Each of the last five World Cups has featured 16 knock-out stage matches (including the third-place play-off) and it will be the same format in South Africa.
In 2006 six of the games needed an added 30 minutes to separate the sides, with four of those extending to spot-kicks.
That was higher than each of the previous three tournaments when extra-time was seen five, four and four times, with penalties coming on two, three, and three occasions respectively.
The bore-fest that was Italia 90 saw a spike in drawn games with half of the 16 matches requiring another 30 minutes, while four needed shots from 12-yards.
All this means that it is likely we’ll see between four and six games go to extra time, and between three and four going the whole distance.
Indeed, such a ratio is echoed by recent European Championship tournaments where an average of three games out of eight needed extra-time, with two going to penalties.
Copa America knock-out matches don’t tend to require such a gruesome means of separation though, with a total of only four shoot-outs seen in the last three tournaments.
Should Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, USA and Mexico all get through – a distinct possibility – then it may be worth wagering some money on less games ending with the torture of spot-kicks.
How many half-way-line huddles will we see in South Africa? With a potential glut of American teams getting through, just 0-1 is a tempting 10/3.