Football is all about goals, they are what win the games after all. That is one of the reasons that we love to bet on goals being scored.
Whether it’s the first one, the next one, the last one, how many of them or even who gets them, there are lots of great ways to get gambling on goals.
But defending is its own art too and is this other, alternative part of the game that is every bit as crucial to a team’s success.
With the upcoming FIFA World Cup in North America beginning to occupy our thoughts, we thought it would be a good idea to focus on how common clean sheets have been at past World Cups.
These stats are important for both teams to score bets, win-to-nil bets, over/under goals per team and any market that involves one or both teams scoring.
Recent World Cup Clean Sheets
|TOURNAMENT||HOST||MATCHES||CLEAN SHEETS KEPT||LEADING GOALKEEPER||WORLD CHAMPIONS|
|World Cup 1998||France||64||38 (59.4%)||Fabien Barthez||France|
|World Cup 2002||Japan & South Korea||64||36 (56.3%)||Oliver Kahn||Brazil|
|World Cup 2006||Germany||64||46 (71.9%)||Gianluigi Buffon||Italy|
|World Cup 2010||South Africa||64||42 (65.6%)||Iker Casillas||Spain|
|World Cup 2014||Brazil||64||37 (57.8%)||Manuel Neuer||Germany|
|World Cup 2018||Russia||64||33 (51.6%)||Fernando Muslera||France|
|World Cup 2022||Qatar||64||33 (51.6%)||Emiliano Martinez||Argentina|
What we can see here is that since 1998, on only two occasions has the goalkeeper with the highest amount of clean sheets, not played for the World Cup winning team.
In 2022, three goal keepers – Jordan Pickford (England), Yassine Bounou (Morocco) and Emiliano Martinez (Argentina) – all kept three clean sheets throughout the tournament. Yassine Bounou became the first African goalkeeper to record three clean sheets in a single edition of the World Cup
But it was Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez that was awarded the FIFA Golden Glove because he played seven games and lifted the World Cup as tournament winning Argentina’s goalkeeper.
On average over the past six World Cups both teams score in only around 4 in 10 games and conversely a clean sheet is kept by at least one team in around 6 out of 10 matches.
Defence Minded Bets
Clean sheet statistics are important for many types of bets, particularly ones that focus on results and goals. Wagers such as Over/Under goals, correct score and both teams to score (BTTS).
Given International games are also renowned for producing less goals than top class domestic leagues it is worth being fairly defensive minded when betting, especially in tight games. Goal fests are rare on an international level and the average number of goals at the world cup is typically lower per game compared to club football.
Obviously having a great goalkeeper will help a team do well, but some of the best goalies play for the smaller nations and are not playing with players of the same calibre that they do when they play for the clubs.
But it stands to reason that the best teams have the best players throughout the team including the defence and goalkeeper, hence the installation of Brazil as favourites for 2026.
Brazil have the top performing two goalkeepers in the Premier League, world class defenders and leading defensive midfielders, all of which help them keep clean sheets.
The team that lets in the fewest goals will generally go further, even if Brazil are known to prefer to attack.
Of course, conceding the fewest goals is not the same thing as keeping clean sheets, but having such a strong defensive spins allows Brazil’s famous attacking talent with confidence, safe in the knowledge that one solitary goal should be enough to win the match and progress through the tournament.