Cristiano Ronaldo has been called a ‘total genius’ by Fifa for the way he won a penalty for Portugal in their World Cup win over Ghana.
The 37-year-old converted from the spot to become the first man to score at five different FIFA World Cups.
At a briefing in Doha, Sunday Oliseh, a member of Fifa’s Technical Study Group (TSG), said the strikers were “getting smarter”.
The TSG, which is led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, reviews every game and provides analysis including performance data and trends.
After 20 games in this tournament, nine penalties have been awarded, which is on track to beat the 20 imposed in 64 games in Russia four years ago.
Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Canada’s Alphonso Davies had their efforts saved, while the other seven were scored.
This includes Ronaldo, who was challenged by Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu. Former England defender Matt Upson, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, called it a “dive”.
Ghana boss Addo was furious after the defeat and told BeIN Sports: “The referee gave a penalty that wasn’t a penalty – everyone saw it. Why? is Ronaldo or something like that?”
“The referee was not in our favour.”
But former Nigeria international Oliseh, who played in the 1998 World Cup, believes Ronaldo was smart in his move to win the penalty that netted him his 118th international goal.
“Maybe the strikers are getting smarter? Oliseh said.
“Ronaldo’s penalty, people can say what they want about him, but the intelligence to wait for that second, touch the ball, continue his leg and then get the contact. It’s total genius .
“Let’s compliment the attackers for getting smarter. VAR is also a big reason why this (more penalties awarded) is happening. Referees can look at it three or four times.”
“Teams will become more courageous”
There were four scoreless games in the first 16 matches, which set a new record of 25% in the first round of group matches.
A fifth followed on Friday as England and the United States reached a stalemate in their second game of the tournament in Qatar.
The record number of 0-0 draws at the World Cup is seven, which has happened in four different editions of the tournament, but Qatar 2022 is already close to that tally with just 20 of the 64 scheduled games completed before the tournament. Saturday matches.
At the last World Cup in Russia, there was a goalless draw between Denmark and France in a group game.
“The teams didn’t want to take too many risks,” Oliseh said.
“It’s clear that many teams rely on a cautious approach,” added his colleague Alberto Zaccheroni, who won Serie A with AC Milan and the Asian Cup while coaching Japan.
“But as the tournament progresses, we’ll see teams getting a bit braver.”
Players ‘feel comfortable’ with match ball
A total of 49 goals have been scored in the 20 matches played until the end of Friday November 25.
The first round of 16 games did not see a single goal scored from outside the box. Two have been scored from range in the four games played so far in the second round, which is significantly less than at this stage in the last two tournaments.
Iranian Roozbeh Cheshmi broke the trend on Friday with a blistering strike against Wales, while later in the day Dutch striker Cody Gakpo scored in a 1-1 draw with Ecuador.
The ‘Al Rihla’ The match ball developed for the World Cup is described by Fifa as “traveling faster than any ball” in the history of the tournament.
World football executives have also said the ball “delivers the highest levels of accuracy and reliability on the playing field”.
TSG member Faryd Mondragon, who played in goal for Colombia in the 1998 World Cup, told BBC Sport: “Technology has improved the game, it helps the ball, the shoes, the gloves, the data. It’s all for the betterment of the game.
“When you have good shooters, any type of ball will be fast and dangerous. I’ve spoken with friends all over the world, it’s a ball they all feel comfortable with.
“We goalkeepers always talk about the fast ball, but it’s all for the good of the game.”