Stats Insider: The areas the Socceroos bossed in FIFA World Cup 2006 group stage

On June 22 in 2006, Australia clinched an intense 2-2 draw with Croatia at the FIFA World Cup to wrap up their group stage commitments, qualifying for the Round of 16 for the first time in the process.

Craig Moore’s goal in the 38th minute from the penalty spot was the Socceroos’ first ever in the first half of a FIFA World Cup match.

There were jubilant celebrations from Socceroos supporters around the world; the team had much to smile about heading into their inaugural World Cup knockout fixture against Italy.

 

FIFA World Cup 2006 - Group Stage (Ro16 Teams)

Team

Total Shots Outside Box

Brazil

36

England

35

Australia

32


The Socceroos attacked the group stage without fear, launching 32 shots from outside the box – Brazil (36) and England (35) were the only other teams to qualify for the Round of 16 and make more shots from outside the box in their group fixtures.

Australia’s willingness to attack was also exemplified by their 80 touches in the opposition box, a figure bettered by only three other teams in the group stage (Sweden – 90, Spain – 89 and France – 81).

WATCH: Craig Moore scores a penalty for the Socceroos

FIFA World Cup 2006 - Group Stage (Ro16 Teams)

Team

Blocks

England

16

Australia

14

Argentina

12

Sweden

11

Italy

10

Netherlands

10


It was not all attacking vigour though which got them there; the Socceroos had to work hard to earn their stripes on the global stage and reach the next phase of the tournament.

The Australians were called upon to block 14 shots in the group stage, England (16) were the only other team to reach the Round of 16 having made more.

Noteworthy performer, Lucas Neill won possession for the Socceroos at an average of 10.5 times per game.

Indeed, that figure saw him finish second among all players in the competition for possessions won per game.

Neill’s average tally was nearly twice as many as any other Australian player at the tournament, with Craig Moore (5.8) the only other Socceroo to win possession more than five times a game throughout the campaign.

Lucas Neill
Lucas Neill

FIFA World Cup 2006

Player

Team

Possession Won

Michael Essien

Ghana

10.7

Lucas Neill

Australia

10.5

Dwight Yorke

Trinidad and Tobago

9.7

Gennaro Gattuso

Italy

9.7

Rafael Márquez

Mexico

9.0


The Ghanaian Michael Essien was the only player to usurp Neill in this area, winning possession an average of 10.7 times from his three appearances at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

While the Round of 16 journey was not a success, the Socceroos earned many an admirer around the world for the way they returned to the FIFA World Cup with such tenacity, energy and spirit following their long absence.