If Germany have declared themselves the best team at the FIFA World Cup™ – and who would argue against them given their 13 goals from five games – then it is logical it should be one of their players taking pride of place at the head of the Castrol Index. Fitting the bill is their captain Philipp Lahm who had another outstanding game in the 4-0 demolition of Argentina on Saturday.
Lahm is a phenomenal performer who punches above his weight both on defensive duties and also when augmenting the attack, maintaining high standards at both ends of the field and in between as well. In a superb display from Joachim Low's team, who combine great skill and pace with a cohesive team spirit, the captain proved a shining light and it helped lift him to the top of the Index – an innovative system which uses the latest technology to objectively analyse and rank player performances and which is being used at the FIFA World Cup for the first time.
The Castrol experts awarded him high marks for his passing accuracy. In the five games he has played in South Africa, the Bayern Munich full-back has made a total of 347 passes, of which 278 have found their target – an outstanding strike rate of 80 per cent. Against Argentina he made 66 passes in all, 48 of which reached their intended target. While other defenders have a higher percentage they tend to be centre-backs who make easier, shorter passes. Lahm has also made eight clearances and lies equal 31st out of 344 players in the tournament who have made at least one clearance.
Pique joins team-mates
Lahm has jumped ahead of the Spanish pair of Joan Capdevila and Sergio Ramos who held the top two positions after the Round of 16. Ramos is still in second spot – he and Capdevila are also very reliable with their distribution, 80 and 81 per cent respectively – but moving up immediately behind him is another member of the Spanish rearguard, Gerard Pique.
Castrol Performance Analysts particularly noted Pique's efforts in the Paraguay match – despite giving away a penalty – as Vicente del Bosque's team earned a semi-final place against Lahm's Germany. Pique made important blocks and more than anyone, with the exception of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, he lessened Spain's chance of conceding goals.
But while the Castrol Index remains the preserve, for now at least, of defenders, the attacking players are getting closer. David Villa's fifth goal in South Africa hoists him up to fifth place while Wesley Sneijder and Thomas Muller are right on his shoulder after excellent quarter-final performances. It is mainly their shooting prowess that has put them so high with the chance to claim top spot with their semi-final, and possibly Final, performances to come. Sneijder has eight shots on target (nine if you include one against the woodwork) while Muller has four, all of which have ended up as goals.
Suarez's shooting success
Luis Suarez and Miroslav Klose also scored heavily during the quarter-final ties with the Uruguay man prominent with his on-target shooting. This positive aspect of his play is offset by his terrible rating – even for a striker – for distribution with a success rate of only 49 per cent. Suarez also gained points for his double block on the line but also loses points. Klose is the next best forward and stands at 14th in the overall rating which is a good achievement considering he has only completed 266 minutes for Germany.
The best-rated goalkeeper is Eiji Kawashima of Japan who edges ahead of Portugal's Eduardo because he has had more game time. But with Japan now out of the competition it is reasonable to assume that the likes of Casillas and Germany's Manuel Neuer will come to the fore more. Casillas has broken into the top 100 and is now the seventh best keeper after a very quiet first four games (apart from one mistake). He was another to excel against Paraguay, pulling off the penalty save and a crucial late parry from Roque Santa Cruz.
FIFA.com is publishing the latest Castrol Index after every round of matches here at South Africa 2010, and in the meantime you can read more statistical analysis and delve deeper into this unique ranking system by following the links on the right.