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The World Cup Unsung Heroes XI: What the Data Tells Us

Looking back over the data from the Russia 2018 World Cup so far, we at MicroStrategy have identified an impressive “Unsung XI” from less celebrated soccer nations. Who made an outstanding contribution but may have slipped under the radar? Let’s see what the data tells us.

While the superstars of Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, and other leaders have dominated the headlines and social media worldwide over the last few weeks, we wanted to find out which players from the less-renowned nations had an impressive tournament.

Most of the players from this XI do not play for the world’s biggest clubs or countries, but they have been putting in a shift this tournament. The host country, Russia, played particularly well, given its rank of 70th place in the world prior to the tournament.

  1. Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico): The Mexican stopper made more saves that any other ‘keeper in the first two rounds (17), but conceded six goals.
  2. Mohammed Al-Burayk (Saudi Arabia): The Saudi-based player made 209 passes with 87% accuracy, including an average of 3.3 tackles per match.
  3. Miguel Trauco (Peru): The Flamengo (Brazil) player notched up 165 passes in his 270 minutes with 89% accuracy. Although the country was eliminated at the group stage, the Peruvian defense was only breached twice in three games.
  4. Manuel Akanji (Switzerland): The Borussia Dortmund center-half made an impressive 308 passes with 89% accuracy over 360 minutes. The Swiss ever-present made 2.5 tackles per game.
  5. Maya Yoshida (Japan): The Southampton defender brought some Premier League quality to the world’s 61st-ranked side, with 290 passes at 89% accuracy.
  6. Abdullah Otayf (Saudi Arabia): The 25-year-old chipped in with 263 passes with 92% accuracy, including an assist for one of Saudi Arabia’s two goals.
  7. Salman Al-Faraj (Saudi Arabia): The playmaker made 255 passes and scored one of his country’s two goals as an ever-present in the group stage.
  8. Aleksandr Golovin (Russia): The World Cup hosts exceeded expectations, and at the heart of midfield was hard-working Golovin, who made 3.3 tackles per game, scored one goal, and contributed two assists.
  9. Artem Dzyuba (Russia): The Zenit Saint Petersburg striker scored three goals from eight shots and set up two other goals for his teammates.
  10. Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia): The Sunderland forward notched two goals from 11 shots and provided two assists. He was crucial to the Tunisia side.
  11. Denis Cheryshev (Russia): The Villarreal left winger bagged four goals from his 13 shots, making a critical contribution to Russia’s progress to the quarter-final.

Next week we will crunch data on the most valuable players (MVPs) of the whole tournament to create a World Cup ‘Best XI’. Who will feature? Be sure to check in and find out!

Can't get enough of the World Cup? Dive into the data yourself with our dossier. Are you ready to create your own data analysis? Download MicroStrategy Desktop today for free and get started.

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