Germany ended Sunday night holding the golden trophy in their hands at the Maracana and it seems only fitting that one of their FIFA World Cup™ winners should have finished the tournament at the top of the Castrol Index too.
Toni Kroos is the man in question and his success is a reflection of his impressive body of work over Germany’s seven-match road to glory. Germany were the team with most passes completed at Brazil 2014 – a total of 4,157 – and Kroos’ own individual tally of 537 was surpassed by only one player, his team-mate Philipp Lahm (562).
The 24-year-old may have shone more brightly in other games – the opening victory over Portugal and semi-final rout of Brazil stand out – but on Final night his typically precise set-piece delivery created Germany’s best chance of normal time when Benedikt Howedes headed his corner against the post just before the break. Overall he completed 94 of 114 passes attempted in the eventual 1-0 triumph over Argentina – a number bettered only by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lahm – and ran 14.3km. Again, only two players – the excellent Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller – posted higher totals.
Kroos is one of three Germany players in the final top ten with Mats Hummels fourth and Muller fifth. Muller owes his place to his five goals – and one outstanding display against Portugal – while Hummels scored twice and was at the heart of a German defence that conceded only four goals in seven outings.
The Netherlands are the other team with three players in the top ten following their success in securing third place with Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Brazil, and it is no surprise to see Arjen Robben – one of this FIFA World Cup’s most consistently dangerous forwards – in second place.
Robben’s highest-scoring games may have come earlier in the competition – when he found the net against Spain and Australia – but nobody ran at defenders with the same success as the Bayern Munich winger. The Castrol statistics show that Robben had 19 solo runs into opposition penalty areas – ten more than the second-ranked Muller. Only Lionel Messi, meanwhile, managed more deliveries into the box (26) than Robben’s 19, while only Messi and Alexis Sanchez drew more tackles.
The two other *Oranje *players featured are Stefan de Vrij in third and Ron Vlaar in tenth. Both played important roles in a three-man Dutch rearguard which earned four clean sheets. Indeed Vlaar, who played so well against Argentina in the semi-final, made more attempted clearances than any other player in Brazil – 29, with a success rate of 87% – while De Vrij managed more recovered balls (58) than anybody else.
South American stars
The highest-placed player from beaten finalists Argentina is left-back Marcos Rojo in ninth. The Sporting Clube de Portugal defender contributed manfully to a superb defensive effort in Brazil by *La Albiceleste *which – if ultimately unrewarded – brought a national-team record of 485 minutes without conceding for goalkeeper Sergio Romero prior to the heartache of Mario Gotze’s late strike in Rio.
Rojo’s work rate up and down the left flank was illustrated by the fact he covered 14.089km in the final – which, among his team-mates, was bettered only by Lucas Biglia. He recovered more balls (46) over Argentina's seven matches than any other player in Alejandro Sabella’s squad and also contributed going forward with his passing and crossing into the box. As for his captain Messi, the adidas Golden Ball winner finished in 11th place in the Index; the Barcelona man scored four goals but none after the group stage and did not make the impact he would have wished for on the semi-final or final matches.
Hosts Brazil ended up in fourth place and they are represented in the top ten by Oscar and Thiago Silva, who sit seventh and eighth respectively. Only two players made more defensive blocks than Thiago Silva’s seven, while Oscar scored two goals and – strange as it seems – finished as the player who made most tackles (11) in the entire tournament according to Castrol’s statistics.
It is a measure of Karim Benzema’s impact in a France shirt, finally, that he remains in the top ten in sixth place, despite his side’s quarter-final elimination. He was the player with most shots on target – 25, of which three were goals.
The final top ten is as follows:
Toni Kroos, Germany (9.79); Arjen Robben, Netherlands (9.74); Stefan de Vrij, Netherlands (9.7); Mats Hummels, Germany (9.66); Thomas Muller, Germany (9.63); Karim Benzema, France (9.6); Oscar, Brazil (9.57); Thiago Silva, Brazil (9.54); Marcos Rojo, Argentina (9.51); Ron Vlaar, Netherlands (9.48).