Fred seizes throne on Brazilian-heavy Index
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Fred may have narrowly missed out on the adidas Golden Shoe at the FIFA Confederations Cup, but his enormous contribution to Brazil’s triumph is underlined by his position at the top of the final Castrol Index ranking. Going into Sunday’s final against Spain, the 29-year-old striker sat fourth, but his two goals at the Maracana propelled him to the summit ahead of Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba.

The Barcelona left-back and the Real Madrid centre-back had begun the day first and second respectively, having helped La Roja get to the decider having conceded just one goal. Yet A Seleção inflicted Spain’s first competitive defeat since 2010 – and heaviest in a non-friendly since 1985 – to change the leaderboard’s complexion.

Fred’s goals arrived at pivotal moments in Brazil’s success – the first in just the second minute gave the hyped-up hosts the perfect start; the second, 120 seconds after the restart, made it 3-0 and effectively ended Spanish hopes of a second-half resurgence. They were two very different goals yet showed a striker at the top of his game. The first was an instinctive, improvised finish, Fred sticking out a leg to lift the ball past Iker Casillas as he lay on the turf inside the six-yard box. The second was rather less scruffy-looking as the Fluminense man rolled the ball with admirable calm and precision into the far corner from the edge of the penalty box.

That was not all the 29-year-old offered: in between his brace there was a lovely backheel which set up Oscar for a shot that flew a whisker wide, then Fred was foiled in a one-on-one with Casillas. Not surprisingly, his match score of 9.64 was the highest of any player in the final and, when added to the 9.70 he achieved when scoring twice against Italy in the group stage and the 7.46 collected for netting against Uruguay, it ensured he ended with the highest average of the competition (9.57).

If Fernando Torres, who also ended the competition with five goals, took the Golden Shoe ahead of Fred owing to his better goals-per-minutes ratio – the Spain No9 played 273 minutes to his Brazilian counterpart’s 423 – the Castrol Index statistics showed that Fred finished the tournament with a superior shooting accuracy. His five goals came from 14 attempts (36 per cent) compared with Torres’s 15 (33 per cent), and the statistics also illustrate how his best work comes inside the penalty box, with only one of those goal attempts coming from distance.

Incidentally, Fred’s fellow scorer in the Final Neymar, had more shots overall than anybody (16) including the one he lashed inside Casillas’s near post shortly before half-time on Sunday. Neymar, whose eye-catching efforts in the final lifted him ten places to tenth in Castrol Index, was also the player with most solo runs – 22 to Andres Iniesta’s 18. The fact six of his shots came outside the penalty box, though, will have counted against him in the Index ratings as these shots carry less of a goal probability.

Another Brazil player on the climb on the final day, meanwhile, was defender David Luiz, whose spectacular clearance denied Pedro what looked a certain equaliser in the first half. That helped Brazil to a clean sheet and helped earn fourth place overall for the Chelsea player, who was in the Index’s top three for tackles (six), surpassed only by Brazil colleague Luiz Gustavo (seven) and Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini (nine).

Chiellini also topped the list of players with most recovered balls (39), with Spain defender Ramos second with 35. The Real Madrid man was the overall runner-up in the Index, three years after finishing the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ top of the Index. Although he suffered the disappointment of a missed penalty in the final, he made a fine contribution to the world and European champions’ campaign in Brazil to earn an overall average of 9.47. As well as his defensive work, Ramos finished with impressive passing statistics too, attempting 323 passes with an 89 per cent success rate. No prizes for guessing that the player with the most passes completed was his team-mate Iniesta (337 from 390 attempted).

Finally, if that will surprise nobody, here is one statistic that might raise eyebrows. The two goals that Italy conceded against Uruguay in their third-place play-off triumph on Sunday meant they ended their stay in Brazil with ten conceded – only Tahiti shipped more. For this reason Chiellini, despite his strong individual statistics, finished just outside the top ten in 11th place.

The final top ten:
Fred (Brazil, 9.57), Sergio Ramos (Spain, 9.47), Jordi Alba (Spain, 9.38), David Luiz (Brazil, 9.30), Thiago Silva (Brazil, 9.23), Andres Iniesta (Spain, 9.16), Marcelo (Brazil, 9.10), Gerard Pique (Spain, 9.04), Luiz Gustavo (Brazil, 8.98), Neymar (Brazil, 8.92).