Villa goes top as defenders lead chase
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Two strikers who were spectators in Spain’s opening match, David Villa and Fernando Torres, made an immediate impression when unleashed against Tahiti in the country’s second outing in the FIFA Confederations Cup and, in the process, went straight into the top ten of the Castrol Index.

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Spain’s 10-0 rout of the South Pacific islanders was the biggest victory in the tournament’s history and featured four goals from Torres and three from Villa, although it is the latter who sits top of the Index after earning a 9.72 score from his contribution at the Maracana.

Villa’s hat-trick, his third for La Roja, took him on to 56 international goals and comprised three close-range finishes, and he also produced a lovely angled pass for team-mate David Silva to find the net. Spain’s dominance was reflected by the number of chances for their two strikers alone, as while Villa’s treble came from six shots, Torres’s four goals came from nine attempts. Torres, who is eighth in the Index, also clipped the crossbar with a penalty and claimed an assist, finishing the day with a score of 9.64.

Another forward making his mark is fifth-placed Mario Balotelli, who struck for the second game running with his successful spot-kick in Italy’s thrilling 4-3 comeback victory over Japan. Balotelli has an average rating of 9.17 from his two outings in Group A and is the player with most shots attempted in the tournament so far (10).

Below Villa at the top of the Index are three centre-backs in Uruguay’s Diego Lugano, Brazil’s Thiago Silva and Nigeria’s Godfrey Oboabona – all three of whom earned nine-plus ratings for their performances on the second matchday.

Lugano’s opening goal in Uruguay’s Group B success over Nigeria boosted his score, leaving him with an average of 9.43 in the overall ratings. It is interesting to note that of this trio of defenders, Thiago Silva (9.33) has the least number of recovered balls (nine) – owing something perhaps to Brazil’s superiority in their two wins to date – while his class and composure on the ball is reflected by a pass completion rate of 91 per cent.

Nigeria’s Oboabona is not far behind with an 89 per cent pass-completion rate. There are no prizes for guessing that two of the top three defenders in this category are Spanish – Gerard Pique (96 per cent) and Sergio Ramos (93 per cent). Indeed Ramos is the third player from Vicente del Bosque’s squad currently in the top ten, sitting in ninth place (8.90).

Brazil too have a trio of players in the top ten, with Thiago Silva joined by fullbacks Daniel Alves and Marcelo, who sit sixth and seventh with averages of 9.09 and 9.02. Both are known for the attacking side of their game and the Castrol Index statistics show that Alves, in particular, has shone already in this respect. He has managed seven solo runs so far and only one defensive player, Spain’s Nacho Monreal, has produced more.

It is worth nothing that Alves’s compatriot Neymar is the player with most solo runs overall (15). Next best are Spain’s David Silva (11) and Japan’s Shinji Kagawa (10).

Finally, Thursday was not a good day for Nigeria’s Nnamdi Oduamadi, who left the field injured just before half-time in Salvador. After his hat-trick against Tahiti, this marked a sobering change of fortune for the forward, who remains tenth in the Index (8.84). Spain marksmen Villa and Torres will hope their own scoring sprees against the Oceanian champions will lead to better things.

*FIFA.com will be publishing the latest Castrol Index after every round of matches at this FIFA Confederations Cup. In the meantime, you can read more statistical analysis and delve deeper into this unique ranking system by clicking on any of the Castrol Index links.