Cristiano Ronaldo’s controversial penalty against Ghana has been called a work of “genius” by the FIFA technical study group member Sunday Oliseh.
Clever players should get as much credit as new technology, according to Sunday Oliseh, a midfielder who played at two World Cups for Nigeria and is studying games in Qatar for FIFA.
“Maybe the strikers are getting smarter? If you look at the penalty that Ronaldo got,” he said about the Portugal star seeming to tempt a Ghana defender into a tackle that was judged a foul.
“People can say what they want about this man, but the smartness and the ingenious thought to just being patient and wait for that split second to touch the ball first before you,” Oliseh said, “and continue my leg so that your contact will hit my leg.”
“That is total genius,” he added.
Ronaldo got off the turf to open the scoring in Portugal’s 3-2 win, one of the seven penalties converted among the 41 total goals in 16 games through Thursday.
FIFA’s expert analysts picked their World Cup trends Saturday from the first 16 games after each team played once.
What the Technical Study Group saw was more and better crosses bearing fruit with a big increase in the number of goals — 14 instead of three — coming from wide areas compared to the 2018 tournament at the same stage.
The nine penalty kicks awarded in the first 16 games put this World Cup on track for a record 36 in the entire 64-game tournament. There were 29 given by referees in 2018 when they first had video reviews.
FIFA data showed England, Spain, Germany and Argentina were most effective at “counter-pressing” tactics many players routinely use at their clubs.