Inevitably, as we start to get excited about the World Cup being just around the corner, the arguments arise as to who will win the Golden Boot or score the nicest goal of the tournament. For casual fans, the forwards are the focal point, as they are the face of the team, due to a highlight-driven culture. There’s a reason that more people know who Wayne Rooney is instead of Xavi or Maicon, even if they’re just as talented.
I just love strikers because there is such a variety of players who are incredible entertainers and they achieve their impact in so many different ways.
In an effort to discern who the tournament’s most efficient attacking players are, we can compare them using SOAR from this past league season with their clubs. SOAR is a way to measure the total offensive impact of a player. For a full explanation of SOAR, click here.
Here are the top 10 forwards by SOAR in World Cup 2010.
Obviously the top 2 are no surprise to most people. What should be surprising, however, is the actual SOAR value of Messi. He was head and shoulders above any other forward in the world this year. If you compare him to the top strikers in Serie A this season, his SOAR was over 60% higher than the best in Italy!
Not only was his SOAR incredible, but his expected SOAR was 1.404, which means he out-finished the average striker based on the chances he had. All that and he still created more chances than anyone not nicknamed C-Ron.
The surprise of the top 10 is definitely Oscar Cardozo of Paraguay who played this past season at Benfica. Cardozo is either the most clinical striker in the world with 25 goals from 30 shots on goal, or had some incredible luck against a slightly lower level of competition than those that played in the bigger European leagues. I am leaning towards the latter.
The Netherlands looks to be in good hands with both Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben proving to be extremely efficient in limited minutes.
Group G will host 3 of the top 10 forwards with Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Luis Fabiano all trying to avoid being a victim of the Group of Death.
The forwards who ranked from 10 to 20 are as follows:
Many will be surprised to see Wayne Rooney and Diego Miltio outside the top 10 given their incredible talent. Rooney’s biggest issue likely is the lack of elite offensive talent on his side at Man U, compared to the players that Messi, Ronaldo and Higuain get to play with. However, a Rooney partnership with Jermain Defoe for England would still be one of the best in the tournament.
Looking at Milito, Tevez and Aguero in this list, paired with Messi and Higuain above, it is amazing to think that Argentina has 5 of the 20 most efficient forwards in the World Cup! If they can find a way to incorporate at least 3 of them at any given time, they should see more net than a school of tuna.
As for a surprise, I’m sure many fans would list David Villa as one of Spain’s top 2 forwards alongside Fernando Torres, but he ranked 23rd overall with his compatriot Pedro from Barcelona slipping into the top 20. Pedro may be a product of a stacked Barcelona squad, but doesn’t earning a starting role mean he has immense talent?
Giampaolo Pazzini’s ranking of 11th and his placing of first among Serie A starters would seem to be at odds with Marcello Lippi’s penchant for starting Alberto Gilardino in the matches leading up to the tournament.