The two categories I focused on were timing of goals, and average goals. The Women’s World Cup averaged 2.8 goals per game, while the Men’s World Cup averaged just a bit less at 2.7 goals per game. Although this suggests that Women’s World Cup games averaged more goals per game, it seemed to me that Women’s World Cup games actually had fewer goals on average. So by removing the highest and lowest scoring games from both World Cups, I found that the middle 50% of Men’s games averaged about 2.6 goals/game and the Women averaged about 2.3 goals/game. This difference can be attributed to the fact that there were a few games in the Women’s World Cup where the total number of goals skewed the average. Germany’s 10-0 win over Ivory Coast, and Switzerland’s 10-1 win over Ecuador caused a spike in the average goals per game as the next closest goal total was 7 goals in the United States 5-2 win over Japan in the final (no Men’s game had more than 8 goals). So while the sample sizes were relatively small, there was still a distinct difference between the scoring averages.
While the statistics from Men’s edition of the tournament include shot locations, shot conversion percentages, and shot direction, the Women’s edition had no advanced statistics. So the other measurable statistic in both World Cups is the timing of goals. Through marking the timing of every goal, I looked at the distribution of the times of the goals in both World Cups. From these distributions, a few differences in game play can be inferred between the two genders at the international level.
Overall, I think the knockout stages and the finals of both tournaments are representative of overall trends between the genders at the International stage. The Men’s final was a low scoring affair that ended 1-0 after extra time, whereas the Women’s final was a high scoring affair at 5-2, and showed a clear difference in quality between the two teams that were in the final. As the Women’s game continues to develop and improve around the world, I think that the tournament will expand to match the 32 teams that the Men have. Initially, I believe that the scoring trends of the next expansion to 32 teams will be very similar to the trends this year as expanding the field will surely lead to a larger gap in skill levels between the top nations and the new entrants in the competition. Eventually though, I believe that the scoring trends of the Women’s game will approach where the Men’s game was this year, as fitness levels increase and the margins between teams decrease.