It has long been known that soccer players cover a lot of distance on the pitch, but London’s Daily Telegraph speculated in a report yesterday that the host nation’s recent dramatic World Cup turnaround is due to the team currently running farther and faster than any other team on the field. 

RELATED: Breaking down the World Cup running stats

Russia was considered the worst team ever to host the Cup, but it has defied all expectations, trouncing Saudi Arabia and Egypt and putting on the strongest start ever by a host nation. And it’s being chalked up to running.

According to NBC Sports, footballers run an average of between 12,320 and 16,720 yards (11.3K to 15.3K) per match.

The Russian team ran an unprecedented 73 miles (116.8K) in the opening match against Saudi Arabia, and 71 miles (113.6K) in the match against Egypt on Tuesday.

The top three players for distance run per 90 minutes of play (Golovin, Samedov and Gazinsky) are all Russian. (Golovin’s average was 11.8K.) And there’s one more Russian player (Zobnin) in the top 15. Also, the Russians aren’t exactly slow: they spent the second-least amount of time, after the Australians, running at less than 4 mph.

By contrast, the report continues, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo ran only 5.4 miles (8.6K) in the match against Spain, which ended in a 3-3 tie.




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