As we enter the latter stages of the World Cup and into what will turn out to be some of the most historic games of the tournament, we will statistically analyse some of the key players of each team based on the systems employed & opposition using Squawka’s excellent comparison matrix.
The midfield bosses
The two sides that are set to face each other for the crown on Sunday are arguably the two best teams in world football, and surely, the battle in midfield promises to be a spectacular one, especially with some of the big guns that are going to be on show. Khedira, and Mascherano will be the key men in this area of the pitch, helping out in defence, and starting up attacks.
At first glance, it looks like a fair fight, but a look at the numbers will show us that Mascherano has really put paid to his tag of ‘destroyer’, and evolved into a complete midfielder, capable of taking his team forward, as well as being the defensive worker at the back. He’s got the better of Khedira in terms of total passes, pass completion, forward passes, tackles and interceptions. The former Argetine captain has been the driving force behind the team, doing a terrific job defensively, as well as starting play out from the back. It will, of course, be very interesting to see what he can do against a German midfield that has already played a big part in tearing Brazil apart. While Khedira himself may not be able to match Mascherano, the German midfield as a unit is probably superior.
Far into the future, when we look back at the 2014 World Cup, and talk about our heroes, the major goal scorers will be the first names to come up, and this is where one of Messi or Muller can seal their place in the league of immortals. Whether or not Messi still needs to achieve something to seal his place in that pantheon of greats is debatable, but a win on Sunday will put a definite end to any such debates. Muller on the hand, doesn’t really need to prove his talent, but he is one whose legend is only growing by the day, with another five World Cup goals already making people talk of Klose’s record being threatened in the long run. Either way, one of these two is going to go down in history for leading his nation to the greatest prize of them all.
Going forward, we’d want to look at not only their goal scoring, but their overall contribution in the final third. Messi, in this respect, does quite well, creating more chances per game than his competitor in this case. However, when it comes to sticking it in the net, Muller is ahead by the tiny margin of a goal. He also exhibits great movement to create space for himself, getting off two shots in the penalty area every game on average, which is quite a number. Muller’s shooting accuracy also happens to be a little higher, making him more of a direct goal threat than Messi, you might say. In terms of take ons, Messi has the beating of the German as you’d expect. Overall, around the penalty area, you’d probably fancy Messi, but the danger zone, is what Muller calls home.
Both these teams have had their own doubts with respect to the defence. While the Argentines came in with a lack of a big name, and a few doubts, their overall organisation has seen them do a lot more than just hold their own. The German defence though, hasn’t been able to impress as much as many expected it to, with many worrying about their full backs, especially prior to the introduction of Philipp Lahm at right back. However, there have obviously been performers. Hummels and Garay are two who have stood up to be counted, and made a difference.
While both Garay and Hummels have excelled, they’ve done so in differing ways. With the German defence sitting a lot higher up the pitch, Hummels has been closer to his opponents to start off with, and consequently, we see that he has made more successful tackles per game. His pass completion is also a bit lower, at 86%, compared to the 94% that Garay shows. Again, this may have something to do with the fact that Hummels, as a part of the high line, has a little less space to operate in than Garay. Similarly, in terms of interceptions and clearances, we see that Garay is well ahead of Hummels. Again, this is something that can be explained by the difference in the way that the two teams defend.