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With World Cup on hiatus, a quick look back.

By Paul Oberjuerge
Gannett News Service

PARIS (Wednesday, July 1, 1998) -- On the 22nd day, they rested.

After three solid weeks of at least two matches a day, the World Cup finally took a weekend. No games Wednesday or Thursday.

Before the France '98 quarterfinals begin Friday, it seems a good time review the highlights the 56 matches covering the first two rounds and 21 days.
* Round up the usual suspects. Going back to 1982, only four nations have reached the World Cup finals: Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Italy. All four are still here.
* The World Cup remains Eurocentric. Six of the eight quarterfinalists are from Europe. In 1994, it was seven of eight. The eighth, Brazil won the championship. Brazil and Argentina are the non-Euros of '98.
* Official goats: Tie between goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta, whose misplay against Nigeria cost Spain a place in the second round, and England midfielder David Beckham, whose petulant kick at Argentina's Diego Simeone earned a red card and made his team play 73 minutes with 10 men. England lost.
* Official comforter: Posh Spice Victoria Adams, Beckham's girlfriend.
* Disappointment (team): Spain, touted as a semifinalist, went out in the first round and home to a national uproar.
* Disappointment (individual): Ronaldo. Brazil's superstar forward has three goals, but many thought he'd be at 10 by now.
* Pleasant surprise (team): Mexico. The Tricolor was being called Tri-tanic during a disastrous World Cup run-up, then made the second round.
* Pleasant surprise (individual): Germany's Lothar Matthaeus, in his fifth World Cup, can still play at age 37.
* Weird statistic down the drain: If one adds the years of the last two championships for Argentina ('78 and '86), Germany ('74 and '90) and Brazil ('70 and '94), they all equal 164. The only team that could have reached 164 here? England ('66 and '98).
* New star: Michael Owen. The explosive tiny teen from England scored twice. And he just turned 18.
* Old bust: Bulgaria's Hristo Stoitchkov, 32, who scored six goals in 1994, had zero here in 14 shots.
* Hack attack: Iran averaged a World Cup-high 23 fouls per game. Its forward, Ali Daei, still leads the individual fouls race with 20. In three games. Argentina's Nelson Vivas is second with 18, in four matches.
* Is there a bull's-eye on my back? Argentina midfielder Ariel Ortega has been fouled 23 times. England's Alan Shearer is second (18).
* He shoots! And sometimes he scores! Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta is the gunner, getting off 24 shots. To his credit, five have gone in, but two were penalty kicks.
* Oops! Four own-goals have been scored, tying the 1958 record.
* That'll be five yards: Chile's Ivan Zamorano was offside more than any player in the tournament, 10 times.
* Break the laws, go to the lockerroom: Cameroon had three players red-carded, two in its win-or-else final match. Chile leads the tournament with 13 yellow cards.
* Not bad, for soccer: Only three 0-0 games have been played in 56 matches, equaling the 1994 total (in 52 matches). Unfortunately, in 1994, one of them was the title game.
* Not bad, for soccer: An average of 2.66 goals per game are being scored here, up sharply from 2.19 in 1990, but off a bit from 1994's 2.71.
* Comeback "kids": Germany (average age, 30) erased a 2-0 second-half deficit to tie Yugoslavia, and a 1-0 deficit to defeat Mexico 2-1.
* Unlucky number: Thirteen penalty kicks have been awarded, 12 were converted. Only Yugoslavia's Pedrag Mijatovic missed, against Netherlands.
* Tough gig: Seven teams were eliminated after two matches, and three fired their coaches immediately. Three more resigned (hello, Steve Sampson) before leaving France.
* Quitting dogs: Bulgaria scored one goal in three matches, and was outscored 6-1 in its finale against Spain.
* Did I really say that? Former U.S. coach Steve Sampson: "This team could make the quarterfinals and, after that, who knows?"

Paul Oberjuerge writes for the San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sun.