World Cup 2014 in numbers: Most popular goals and players

The 2014 FIFA World Cup has captivated billions around the globe with drama that hasn't been seen since Italia 90.

So far 150 goals have been scored, surpassing the total number in the entire 2010 competition and we haven't reached the quarter-final stages. Highlights include Robin Van Persie morphing into a flying dutchman against Spain and James Rodriquez smashing home a thunderous volley to send Uruguay packing.

Controversy has never been far away, with headbutts, dives, last-minute penalties and even an infamous bite generating talking points.

Data hungry

With over 20,000 journalists reporting from the World Cup, the first 10 days alone generated 32TB of data, according to Brazilian telecoms company Oi.

In comparison, the Sochi Winter Olympics led to the creation of 34TB over 17 days and the Super Bowl produced 1.9TB.

The firm also estimated that during this time 152,000 devices were connected to the exclusive media Wi-Fi networks within all 12 stadiums.

With online communication having swept across the planet since the last World Cup, Brazil 2014 is the first truly social football tournament.

Official statistics reveal there have been 300 million tweets containing #WorldCup and over 815 million Facebook interactions (including posts, comments, and likes) during the group stages.

Old-school searching remains a core source of information too, with Google supplying 1.2 billion search results relating to the tournament so far.

Most popular goals (Group stage)

Being the hosts, the Brazilian team has dominated social conversation across the web.


Two out of the three most talked about moments of the competition came from the opening game between Brazil and Croatia, which generated 12.2 million tweets.

1. Marcelo's (@12MarceloV) own-goal 10 minutes into the tournament resulted in 378,085 tweets-per-minute (TPM), making it the most talked about moment in the group stage.

2. Clint Dempsey's (@clint_dempsey) goal against Portugal, which put USA up 2-1 generated 304,603 TPM.

3. The poster-boy of Brazilian football, Neymar (@neymarjr), also set Twitter alight when he scored his first goal in the opening game (280,265 TPM) to level the match at 1-1.


Despite Brazil dominating conversations across Facebook (6 out of the top 10 most popular comments referred to the hosts), the most talked interactions came from the Mexican fans.

1. Javier "Chicharito" Hernndez scored the goal which resulted in the most positive reaction on Facebook after he put his team 3-0 up against Croatia.

2. Neymar's first World Cup goal, which also came against Croatia was the second most celebrated goal as it levelled the match at 1-1.

3. Again it was Neymar who generated a huge volume of excitement when he put Brazil 1-0 up against Cameroon.


Search results for popular goals varied dramatically compared to social media.

1. Van Persie's flying goal' was the most popular during the group stage as fans flocked to the internet to relive this incredible piece of skill near the start of the tournament.

2. Messi's first goal' was the second most popular search term after the Argentinian scored a superb solo goal as his team beat Bosnia 2-1.

3. Football fans were also keen to see Dempsey's fastest goal' after the American player scored in the first 30 seconds against Ghana.

Biggest retweet

With England on the brink of elimination after the first round of games, Italy's star striker Mario Balotelli got everyone's attention on Twitter after asking for a cheeky reward if his side did the English a favour.

Despite being the King of the retweets, Balotelli and Italy were eliminated at the group stage together with England.

Most popular players (Group stage)

Many of the world's most popular players entered the tournament with high expectations and almost all have lived up to the hype.


Having carried their teams through the group stage with four goals apiece, Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Neymar (Brazil) proved most popular amongst spectators.

Luis Suarez (Uruguay) returned from injury to score two crucial goals that knocked England out of the tournament. However, his popularity on Twitter spiked after he was caught on camera biting an Italian opponent. The subsequent four months led to him trending on Twitter throughout the week.

1. Lionel Messi

2. Neymar (@neymarjr)

3. Luis Suarez (@luis16suarez)


The Brazilian talisman was the most talked about player on Facebook, followed by the usual suspects.

1. Neymar

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

3. Lionel Messi


Meanwhile, Ronaldo topped traditional Google search results despite his team getting knocked out in the early stages. There was a lot of interest in the Portuguese 2013 Ballon d'Or winner due to injury woes and his hairstyle changing on a daily basis.

Has social media enhanced your enjoyment of the World Cup? What has been your favourite moment so far?

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.