The high number of goalless draws at the World Cup has been due to teams' fear of suffering an early setback, FIFA's technical study group said on November 26.

There were five goalless matches in the first 20 matches in Qatar, already just two short of matching the record amount in a World Cup.

There was only one 0-0 stalemate at the 2018 tournament – between eventual winners France and Denmark.

"It's because teams don't want to take too much risk at the beginning," said former Nigeria international Sunday Oliseh.

"Past data shows about 70 per cent of teams who lose their first game go out in the group stage and they're all aware of that."

Uruguay's match with South Korea on November 24 was the first World Cup game in the 21st century to not even see a shot on target.

"Many teams are relying on a cautious approach," said veteran Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni.

"Lots of teams fielded five defenders and played very tight and compact. They wanted to assure at least a point from their first game and if a chance came along, try and grab it to win the game."

Despite England's 6-2 rout of Iran and Spain's 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica, there have been fewer goals per game so far in Qatar than in Russia or in Brazil in 2014.