In this thread Measure for Measure asks whether it would be a good idea to widen the goalmouth in soccer, on the grounds that change would increase scoring and thus theoretically make the game more exciting. The consensus in the thread is that 1) soccer doesn’t need more goals–the scoring rate is right about where it needs to be, and 2) having more scoring in soccer wouldn’t necessarily make the sport more exciting. I agree with this consensus.
But I think more interesting–if more theoretical–questions are: would a wider goal really increase scoring? And what else would be the effect of a wider goal on the sport? I think it’s a bit too easy to simply say, “a wider goal area would make it more difficult for the keeper to stop every shot between the posts; therefore it would necessarily follow that scoring rates would increase.” I think that there would certainly be a higher ratio of goals to shots-on-goal. But I’m not sure there would be as many shots. I think a wider goal would give managers the choice between “send in more strikers because the chances of scoring are improved” or “drop back more players in defense to prevent shots from being taken”. Considering that most managers play it safe, I think you’d start seeing formations like 6-3-1 becoming commonplace. So I guess one of the first effects of a larger goal would be “more defense, less offense.” And scoring might not change at all…instead of games with three goals from ten legitimate scoring chances, you’d see three goals from five chances. Which, IMHO, would be a much more boring game.
A few other effects I could see:
–A big increase in “speculative shots.” It’s difficult to beat the keeper (unless he’s unsighted) from 30 yards out…but maybe not if the goal was 12 yards wide. And especially if there are six men defending…I could see a lot of attempts to shoot over or through the penalty area instead of working through it. Those shots would be exciting if they go in, but seeing endless attempts from outside the penalty area might get boring.
–Penalties would be closer to a “gimme”. That Don Guy made this point in the other thread. Of course penalty takers are going to aim for the corners, but the margin of error would be much less.
–Corner kicks would become a lot more interesting. The bigger the goal, the harder it would be to get defensive positioning right. Perhaps you could say the same thing about free kicks–although I think you’d just see more defenders in the wall, and probably as a result fewer kicks directly at goal.
–The offside trap gets tougher to pull off. Keeping six defenders on the same page won’t be as easy as with four or five.
Any other thoughts?