BI Trends

World Cup 2018’s Most Valuable Players: What the Data Tells Us

The festival of football is over! The awards have been handed out—félicitations to France for its World Cup victory. At MicroStrategy, we’ve been looking back over the data from the Russia 2018 World Cup to establish a data-led “Most Valuable Player” (MVP) starting XI.

We’ve built an open dossier, which you’re welcome to access, based on the data provided by sports data company Opta. Following our recent look at the World Cup’s “Unsung XI” players, based on their performance statistics, we’ve put together a dream XI for the whole tournament, with a classic 4-4-2 formation to make sure we have a wide spread of positions.

  1. Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark): The Leicester City ‘keeper made 17 saves in the 390 minutes he played, including a penalty in normal time and two in the second-round shootout that Denmark ultimately lost to Croatia. He let in just two goals in the whole tournament, conceding on average once every 195 minutes, compared to eventual Golden Glove winner, Thibaut Courtois of Belgium, who conceded five goals, or one every 126 minutes.
  2. Toby Alderweireld (Belgium): Spurs’ versatile defender made a total of 446 passes with 90% accuracy in his 540 minutes for his country. He also chipped in with an assist.
  3. Jordi Alba (Spain): Spain’s phenomenal passing game saw many of its players appear in the leading stats places by the time they were eliminated. The team just lacked a cutting edge. The FC Barcelona left-back completed 383 passes with 92% accuracy over 390 minutes of play.
  4. Sergio Ramos (Spain): The Spanish captain was top passer in the whole tournament, despite exiting at the second round, with a phenomenal 508 passes at 95% accuracy. He also made 2.3 tackles per game.
  5. John Stones (England): With a passing accuracy of 95% from 478 passes over 645 minute, Stones was a fulcrum of the England side that finished fourth. He also chipped in with two goals in the group stage.
  6. N’Golo Kanté (France): The Chelsea midfield played a key role in France’s World Cup victory, with an average of 2.1 tackles per game and 361 passes at 88% accuracy in his 585 minutes of play.
  7. Luca Modric (Croatia): The Real Madrid talisman rightly won the Player of the Tournament. He played more minutes than anyone else (654 mins), chipped in with two goals and an assist, and made 485 passes with a conversion rate of 87%. He was instrumental in Croatia’s historic run.
  8. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium): The Manchester City man set up two goals and bagged one himself, contributing 333 passes from the heart of the Belgian midfield and edging out France’s Paul Pogba.
  9. Kylian Mbappé (France): With four goals from just eight shots at 87.5% target accuracy, France’s teenage sensation edges out top scorer Harry Kane, who scored more goals, but against weaker opposition and with three penalty spots. Both did well compared to Brazilian Neymar’s two goals from 26 shots, or Lionel Messi’s solitary goal from 18 attempts.
  10. Antoine Griezmann (France): Contributing four goals, two assists and 233 passes, the Atlético Madrid forward was crucial to France’s tournament triumph.
  11. Philippe Coutinho (Brazil): Out on the left we have FC Barcelona’s wing man. Brazilian Coutinho scored two goals and set up two others. He also had an impressive 90% pass accuracy rate over his 326 passes.

It is no surprise that the “most shots” category is led by famous forwards, including Neymar (two goals from 26 shots), Griezmann (four from 22), Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (four from 21), Argentina’s Lionel Messi (one from 18), Hazard (three in 17), and Edinson Cavani of Uruguay (three goals from 16 shots). England’s Golden Boot winner, Harry Kane, hit his six goals from 14 shots.

Missing the World Cup already? 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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