After gorging on goals in the opening fortnight of the World Cup, punters hungry to savour more cheers from celebrating spectators are experiencing something of a drought.
Only one of the four quarter finals – Brazil’s 2-1 victory over Colombia – yielded a haul north of 2.5 goals, with just five strikes served up across the four fixtures.
That came after a mere 11 were plundered in regulation time during the round of 16 prior to this in a goal-shy knockout stage.
The mini leagues that preceded this churned out a staggering 136 strikes by stark contrast, but don’t expect a reversion to the good old days in the semi-finals.
It’s a shade better than even money that both Brazil v Germany and Netherlands v Argentina individually don’t produce enough goals to break the 2.5-goal barrier and it’s a price worth taking on based on recent form.
Here are four reasons as to why the net-bulging isn’t as plentiful at current:
Heat exhaustion has sapped the striking prowess
The sauna-like conditions in Manaus were cited as one of the reasons why England and Italy lost the matches that followed their duel in the jungle city.
Over-exertion in the heat drained the players for their next outings and perhaps after going bananas for goals early doors, the Brazilian climes have finally caught up with participants in the latter stages.
Guillermo Ochoa and Keylor Navas are just two net-minders to have made a name for themselves in what is a tournament that is vastly becoming more about the men between the sticks.
Increased defensive acumen
The porous defences that attackers marked down as easy meat have long since gone home, leaving just the more rugged rearguards of the world’s elite for the frontmen to break down, which is evidently proving much more vexing.
The ‘all or nothing’ nature of knockout football has seen expansive, Hail Mary style soccer shelved.
In the groups, the protagonists play to win but if they don’t, say in the first match, there’ll always be a second and third game for redemption.
A post-groups loss is fatal, however, and awareness of this is quelling the formerly out-of-control goal-getting appetites of the remaining frontlines.