He has already become his country’s record scorer on the FIFA World Cup™ stage, and James Rodriguez underlined the impact he is making at Brazil 2014 by ending the group stage at the head of the Castrol Index.
The 22-year-old contributed in eye-catching fashion to all three of Colombia’s victories as they won Group C, despite starting their last game against Japan on the bench. Rodriguez came on, produced exquisite passes for each of Jackson Martinez’s two goals, then chipped the final goal himself in Los Cafeteros’ 4-1 win, maintaining his record of scoring in every game so far.
The Monaco player had been ninth in the Castrol Index but duly climbed into first place with a 9.79 rating. There are other specific factors in his ranking: he is shooting from medium to short range, which increases his accuracy and effectiveness, with just one of his 11 attempts so far falling off target. He has also made a positive contribution with his passing – highlighted by those two goal-making balls against Japan – and only three other players at this FIFA World Cup have produced more completed crosses than the Colombian.
Second in the ranking with a score of 9.74 is a player who has already gone home, Croatia’s Ivan Perisic. He was on target for the second game running in his country’s 3-1 Group A loss to Mexico. Perisic's shooting threat was underlined by the fact that five of his six attempts on target in the competition were from inside the box – in other words, he was getting in the right positions and giving himself a higher probability of scoring. The Wolfsburg midfielder also played some good passes into dangerous areas and produced five solo runs into the box.
Perisic is the only player in the top ten who will not be playing in the Round of 16. Of the surviving teams, hosts Brazil are best represented with a trio of players in third-placed David Luiz, eighth-placed Neymar and ninth-placed Thiago Silva. Neymar’s two goals against Cameroon on Monday raised his total in the tournament to four, making him the joint-leading scorer alongside Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Germany’s Thomas Muller. Messi sits 11th in the Castrol Index chart and one reason why he and Neymar do not rank even higher is down to the number of long-range shots for both. Messi, in particular, has had ten goal attempts from outside the area and only three from inside, and these carry a lower probability of ending in the net – even for somebody as incredibly talented as the Argentinian.
There are three new players in the top ten, meanwhile, in Belgium’s Daniel van Buyten, Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri and France’s Mamadou Sakho. Shaqiri stole the show in Switzerland’s final Group E fixture in Manaus by scoring the hat-trick which secured his team's progress to the Round of 16, and showing just why his coach Ottmar Hitzfeld considers him “a player who can make the difference”.
As for centre-backs Van Buyten and Sakho, each helped their team secure a second clean sheet of Brazil 2014 in the third round of matches, the former doing so in Belgium’s 1-0 victory over Korea Republic and the latter in France’s goalless draw with Ecuador. In Van Buyten’s case, his contribution is underlined by specific defensive statistics: only two players have made more blocks and only three have registered more recovered balls. Not bad for a 36-year-old who appeared in Belgium’s last FIFA World Cup campaign in 2002.
The final words go to Karim Benzema and Arjen Robben, whose failure to score in their respective sides’ last group matches meant each dropped a few places, although Benzema is still the man with most shots on target (15), while Robben, perhaps not surprisingly, has recorded most solo runs into the box (eight).
The full list of the top ten ranked players in the Castrol Index is: James Rodriguez, Colombia (9.79); Ivan Perisic, Croatia (9.74); David Luiz, Brazil (9.69); Karim Benzema, France (9.65); Arjen Robben, Netherlands (9.62); Daniel van Buyten, Belgium (9.58); Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland (9.55); Neymar, Brazil (9.52); Thiago Silva, Brazil (9.5); Mamadou Sakho, France (9.47).
FIFA.com will be publishing the latest Castrol Index after every round of matches at this FIFA World Cup 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.