Football: ​Kroos masterclass secures top billing

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Just over three weeks have now passed since Toni Kroos sat in a press conference at Germany’s Campo Bahia training base and faced a question from one reporter about the perception that, prior to arriving in Brazil, he had failed to truly shine on the international stage.

As a player fresh from a fine season with Bayern Munich and who, moreover, had just caught the eye with his laser-precision passing in Germany’s 4-0 opening victory over Portugal, he seemed understandably affronted. Now, though, there can be no more awkward questions, particularly given the way that Kroos sparkled in Germany’s stunning semi-final demolition of Brazil.

Kroos delivered one of the outstanding performances of the FIFA World Cup™ semi-final round and in the process climbed 18 places to the top of the Castrol Index ranking. The 24-year-old scored Germany’s third and fourth goals in Belo Horizonte – the third an impressively fierce first-time strike from the edge of the box – and contributed as much as any player in Joachim Low’s side to a remarkable team display.

According to FIFA’s match statistics, he was responsible for 12 of Germany’s 39 deliveries or solo runs into the final third while only Bastian Schweinsteiger covered more ground than the 11.7km that Kroos managed.

The Castrol Index statistics also highlight his overall contribution to Germany’s run to Sunday’s Final against Argentina: he has made more passes (443) than any other player bar two at Brazil 2014 – upcoming opponent Javier Mascherano and colleague Philipp Lahm – and only the same pair have surpassed his pass completion rate of 85 per cent.

Kroos is one of two Germany players in the Castrol Index top ten, with Thomas Muller in seventh place after opening the scoring against Brazil with his fifth goal of this World Cup. Meanwhile, Mats Hummels, in 11th, is the highest-ranked member of a German defensive unit which conceded just one shot on target against Brazil.

The Germany squad has the highest average player rating among the 32 teams involved, with Argentina, their Final opponents, second. La Albiceleste’s highest-ranked player currently is defender Ezequiel Garay in 12th place while Lionel Messi, who had a quiet night against the Netherlands, is 14th.

Elsewhere, the top ten features two players from the Dutch squad who bowed out following their semi-final loss on penalties to Argentina. Arjen Robben climbed into third place after yesterday’s tight contest in Sao Paulo, his individual score boosted by the fact that, in a match of few opportunities, he came so close to winning the game with a burst into the box and blocked shot in the final moments of normal time.

His team-mate Stefan de Vrij climbed to sixth place, meanwhile, on the back of his efforts in helping to stifle Argentina’s attack. Of the other vanquished semi-finalists, the one Brazil player to move upwards into the top ten after a crushing night for the host nation was Oscar, scorer of a goal that provided zero consolation for A Seleção.

Finally, Karim Benzema of France still claims second place in the Index for his efforts earlier in the competition. The fact he missed not a single minute of the Les Bleus campaign means that he has yet to be penalised for his inactivity on the two semi-final nights.

The full top ten after the semi-finals is as follows: 
Toni Kroos, Germany (9.79); Karim Benzema, France (9.74); Arjen Robben, Netherlands (9.7); Thiago Silva, Brazil (9.66); Oscar, Brazil (9.63); Stefan de Vrij, Netherlands (9.59); Thomas Muller, Germany (9.56); David Luiz, Brazil (9.54); James Rodriguez, Colombia (9.51); Neymar, Brazil (9.48). 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.

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