The group stage of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 concluded with a rousing finale on Sunday. Spain, South Africa, Brazil and the USA made the semi-finals, but Italy, Egypt, Iraq and New Zealand have all packed for home.
Just a couple of weeks ago, some 180 players set out for the southernmost country in Africa in search of the trophy at the prestigious Festival of Champions. Since that time, the headlines have featured a host of familiar names, although a clutch of lesser known stars-in-the-making have played their way into the spotlight as well.
A glance at the Castrol Index, for example, shows Essam El Hadary leading the way among the goalkeepers. The Egypt shot-stopper excelled against FIFA World Cup™ holders Italy, shutting out big-name strikers Luca Toni and Vicenzo Iaquinta with a string of outstanding saves. And European championship winner Iker Casillas of Spain is on course for a new record, as he has yet to pick the ball out of his own net at the tournament.
In defence, South Africa boast the most effective weapons when it comes to containing opponents, as Bafana Bafana stoppers Tsepo Masilela and Siboniso Gaxa lead the Castrol Index Ranking for defenders. Joel Santana’s team have managed a clean sheet twice thus far, conceding only to the Furia Roja in the European champions’ 2-0 success.
Billed in advance as one of the likely stars of the FIFA World Cup dress rehearsal, Brazil maestro Kaka has lived up to expectations. The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year currently tops the Castrol Index Ranking for midfielders, and is up to third in the overall classification. The midfield top four includes US players Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, both instrumental in sealing their team’s semi-final berth. Kaka’s team-mate Felipe Melo separates the two Americans in third.
Unsurprisingly, Spaniards lead the way among the forwards. Spain boast the best record of all, with eight goals and none conceded after three games and six of those eight goals were put away by Fernando Torres and David Villa. El Niño and Guaje, with three goals apiece, occupy the top two positions among the forwards and in the overall Ranking.
The twelve recipients of the Budweiser Man of the Match award are also contenders for the Top 11: Luis Fabiano, Maicon (both Brazil); Dempsey (US); Shane Smeltz (New Zealand); Xavi, Torres, Xabi Alonso (all Spain); Mohamed Zidan, Mohamed Homos (both Egypt); Bernard Parker, Teko Modise (both South Africa) and Daniele de Rossi (Italy).
Those are just a few of the players who have caught the eye in South Africa up to now. We are turning it over to you to Have Your Say in response to this week’s question:
Who’s in your Top 11 at the Festival of Champions?
Do you favour the stars of the Furia Roja? Or are you more convinced by ace Brazilian duo Kaka and Luis Fabiano? What about US captain Landon Donovan, who has led his side to a place in the last four against all odds? And despite the fact that they are on the plane home, do you feel the likes of Mohamed Aboutrika and Andrea Pirlo lived up to their pre-tournament billing?
Tell us who you think have been the best eleven players! Click 'Add your comment' to make your opinion known, remembering to keep your posts clean, respectful, on-topic and in English.
The Castrol Index uses the latest technology to objectively analyse and rank player performance. The Castrol Index can help you see football from a completely different perspective. You’ll now know which players truly deserve to grab all the headlines.
FIFA.com will be publishing the latest Castrol Index after every round of matches here at South Africa 2009, and in the meantime you can find much more in the way of facts, insights and analysis by visiting our new and improved Statistics section. Why not take a look before settling on your Top 11 – it’s definitely worth it!