The Best XI Ever

In Brazil in summer of 2014, Jogi Löw prepared the German national team to enter the World Cup. He took care of all the details as famously documented in the movie "Die Mannschaft". One detail he addressed earlier was picking the best players to join the team. Germany had that year excellent players to choose from and Löw didn't want to take any risk. He mainly selected by output. And he did a very good job. Actually, for the opening game he fielded a starting XI with a Goalimpact of 179.0, the highest Goalimpact ever, in all competitions, on club and national team level.

From all his players available, he chose the ones with the highest Goalimpact, apart from Bastian Schweinsteiger who missed some weeks of team training due to an injury. That team beat Portugal 4:0 ensuring a good start in the tournament. Also the exactly same team drew a few days later against Ghana 2:2 in the heat of Fortaleza.

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeClubNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Per Mertesacker160.0165.629.7Arsenal FC47543835
Mats Hummels187.5188.425.4Borussia Dortmund32528466
Thomas Müller216.0218.024.8Bayern München37729855
Toni Kroos178.9181.424.4Bayern München31923051
Philipp Lahm164.4173.030.6Bayern München58151993
Manuel Neuer194.6199.128.2Bayern München43840917
Benedikt Höwedes165.8166.326.3FC Schalke 0432928208
Jérôme Boateng169.0169.425.8Bayern München35428593
Mario Götze171.4180.622.0Bayern München20414298
Mesut Özil206.9207.525.7Arsenal FC43833170
Sami Khedira154.7157.227.2Real Madrid34927770
Average179.0182.426.4
Bench
André Schürrle151.7156.123.6Chelsea FC25718827
Miroslav Klose126.1164.236.0Lazio Roma60545175
Roman Weidenfeller139.7145.233.8Borussia Dortmund41438278
Julian Draxler126.2147.320.7FC Schalke 0417011338
Bastian Schweinsteiger181.8187.529.8Bayern München56743606
Matthias Ginter115.7139.920.3SC Freiburg13712556
Lukas Podolski138.9144.029.0Arsenal FC42932205
Kevin Großkreutz145.6145.825.8Borussia Dortmund34527128
Christoph Kramer100.7105.923.3Bor. Mönchengladbach18014941
Shkodran Mustafi106.3115.122.1Sampdoria756182
Erik Durm98.7107.722.1Borussia Dortmund1239537
Ron-Robert Zieler116.6129.525.3Hannover 9617316172
Average129.0140.726.0

When Germany played Brazil in the semi finals, the team's Goalimpact was slightly lower. Featuring aging Miroslaw Klose instead of Mario Götze reduced the Goalimpact more than replacing Per Mertesacker by Bastian Schweinsteiger could improve it.

Notice also that Germany lacked depth in the team. Many bench players had a considerably lower Goalimpact than the first XI. Hence, they were lucky not to suffer multiple injuries. So it is no surprise that the weakest starting XI of Germany in the tournament played the final against Argentina. It had only a Goalimpact of 171.2.

FC Barcelona 2013/2014

The starting XI with the highest Goalimpact, 177.5, ever to play at club level, was Martino's Barcelona in a league game on 15. February 2014 against Rayo Vallecano that they trashed 6:0. It was also the second best starting XI ever after Germany 2014. Again there weren't many options to improve the team's Goalimpact further. Just GI would have chosen Mascherano over the aging Puyol.

Notice how may players have left the team in the meanwhile, mainly to join a Premier League club.

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Busquets206.6207.325.6Spanien30124065
Lionel Messi202.4203.726.6Argentinien46037187
Dani Alves172.1181.730.8Brasilien53445708
Piqué187.2189.327.0Spanien36130563
Alexis Sánchez168.5169.925.1Chile32221786
Iniesta172.6178.229.8Spanien53938371
Pedro165.1166.226.5Spanien27017408
Adriano156.6161.929.3Brasilien35725429
Puyol138.1174.935.8Spanien63655202
Cesc Fàbregas209.3210.926.8Spanien48936983
Victor Valdés173.9178.432.1Spanien52348678
Average177.5183.928.7
Bench
Javier Mascherano175.9181.529.7Argentinien45038045
Alex Song178.2179.126.4Kamerun34127004
Ibrahim Afellay133.7137.627.8Niederlande28520221
Neymar135.4144.622.0Brasilien18214671
Pinto121.2136.138.322620660
Jordi Alba117.8119.524.8Spanien22817260
Cristian Tello115.1122.822.5Spanien [U21]1306210
Average139.6145.927.4

Bayern Munich 2014/2015

The second highest ranked club ever with 177.0 isn't rated much lower. On 11. March 2015, Pep Guardiola's Bayern defeated Shakhtar Donetsk with a humiliating 7:0. Apart from the excellent starting XI this was facilitated by a very early red card against Shakthar.

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Rafinha166.7172.129.5Brasilien Olymp.36330547
David Alaba162.2169.222.7Österreich27122450
Thomas Müller212.5213.425.5Deutschland41833197
Arjen Robben179.2190.631.1Niederlande52739194
Bastian Schweinsteiger180.3189.130.6Deutschland58745018
Manuel Neuer194.9199.228.9Deutschland48245071
Holger Badstuber148.1148.126.0Deutschland27023655
Jérôme Boateng169.6170.726.5Deutschland39231889
Robert Lewandowski196.8197.926.5Polen31725342
Mario Götze186.6193.522.8Deutschland24317029
Franck Ribéry150.6166.031.9Frankreich46737594
Average177.0182.727.5
Bench
Claudio Pizarro119.9161.836.4Peru62344801
Pepe Reina167.8172.432.5Spanien63458921
Philipp Lahm162.7175.131.3Deutschland60654247
Medhi Benatia144.6148.627.8Marokko22719902
Juan Bernat119.4128.522.0Spanien1228762
Dante164.4177.131.3Brasilien33930018
Sebastian Rode109.9112.424.4Deutschland [U21]16912927
Average141.2153.729.4

Overview

And here are the top 25 starting XIs ever according to Goalimpact. Per season the table is showing each team only once, with the highest Goalimpact. Observations:

  • The only non-Spanish, non-German entry is Manchester City from the last two seasons.
  • All entries are from recent years. For the clubs this can be explained by a stronger concentration of top players on few top clubs. I'm not sure what to make for the national team from it. The third best national team is the Netherlands 1998 followed by Germany 1982. So maybe for national teams this is incidental.
  • The highest ranked starting XI ever to lose a match was FC Barcelona (174.8) losing against Real Valladolid 1:0 on the 27th match day of the 2013/2014 season of Primera Division. This is the 21st ranked starting XI. (not in the list below as this was not their best starting XI that season.)


Competition Season Round Team Goalimpact Match
World Cup 2014 in Brazil Group G Germany 179.0 Deutschland - Portugal 4:0
Primera Division 2013/2014 24. Match Day FC Barcelona 177.5 FC Barcelona - Rayo Vallecano 6:0
Champions League 2014/2015 Achtelfinale Bayern München 177.0 Bayern München - Shakhtar Donetsk 7:0
Primera Division 2012/2013 22. Match Day FC Barcelona 176.3 Valencia CF - FC Barcelona 1:1
Bundesliga 2013/2014 27. Match Day Bayern München 175.2 Hertha BSC - Bayern München 1:3
Champions League 2011/2012 Achtelfinale FC Barcelona 174.2 FC Barcelona - Bayer Leverkusen 7:1
Champions League 2014/2015 Final FC Barcelona 172.4 Juventus - FC Barcelona 1:3
EC-Quali. 2014/2015 Group D Germany 172.3 Schottland - Deutschland 2:3
WC-Quali. Europe 2012/2013 Group C Germany 171.9 Schweden - Deutschland 3:5
Bundesliga 2015/2016 1. Match Day Bayern München 171.1 Bayern München - Hamburger SV 5:0
Primera Division 2012/2013 7. Match Day Real Madrid 170.6 FC Barcelona - Real Madrid 2:2
EC 2012 in Poland/Ukraine Final Spain 169.3 Spanien - Italien 4:0
WM-Quali. Europa 2012/2013 Group I Spain 169.1 Spanien - Finnland 1:1
EC 2012 in Poland/Ukraine Group B Germany 168.8 Niederlande - Deutschland 1:2
EC-Quali. 2014/2015 Group C Spain 168.4 Spanien - Slowakei 2:0
Primera Division 2014/2015 17. Match Day Real Madrid 168.3 Valencia CF - Real Madrid 2:1
Champions League 2011/2012 Halbfinale Real Madrid 167.9 Real Madrid - Bayern München 1:3
Confederations Cup 2013 in Brazil Group B Spain 167.2 Nigeria - Spanien 0:3
Primera Division 2015/2016 5. Match Day FC Barcelona 166.5 Celta Vigo - FC Barcelona 4:1
Champions League 2012/2013 Halbfinale Bayern München 165.8 Bayern München - FC Barcelona 4:0
Champions League 2010/2011 Halbfinale FC Barcelona 165.8 FC Barcelona - Real Madrid 1:1
Primera Division 2015/2016 2. Match Day Real Madrid 163.6 Real Madrid - Real Betis 5:0
Champions League 2013/2014 Achtelfinale Real Madrid 163.0 FC Schalke 04 - Real Madrid 1:6
Champions League 2014/2015 Group E Manchester City 160.7 Manchester City - AS Roma 1:1
Premier League 2013/2014 35. Match Day Manchester City 159.8 Manchester City - West Bromwich Albion 3:1




Australia vs Spain 0:3


Australia

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Mathew Ryan108.3108.322.2Club Brugge KV13612710
Jason Davidson93.9105.322.9Heracles Almelo564576
Matthew Špiranovi?105.2105.425.9Western Sydney Wanderers1139258
Ryan McGowan99.6103.724.8Shandong Luneng1008459
Alex Wilkinson93.699.829.8Jeonbuk FC30928340
Oliver Bozanic101.3103.425.4FC Luzern14510757
Mile Jedinak100.5106.629.8Crystal Palace28423995
Matt McKay89.7107.531.4Brisbane Roar28724217
Mathew Leckie107.6117.323.3FSV Frankfurt1309040
Adam Taggart84.0107.221.0Newcastle United Jets573732
Tommy Oar96.3109.622.5FC Utrecht1318732
Average98.2106.725.4
Bench
Ben Halloran97.6113.222.0Fortuna Düsseldorf785896
James Troisi101.4101.725.9Melbourne Victory1419624
Mark Bresciano70.9106.234.3Al-Gharafa34924555
Mitchell Langerak109.1109.125.8Borussia Dortmund575153
Eugene Galekovic89.389.333.0Adelaide United27926040
Mark Milligan87.292.728.8Melbourne Victory15313502
Bailey Wright100.6117.221.8Preston North End1079227
James Holland111.8115.025.1Austria Wien12710382
Dario Vidoši?95.398.227.2FC Sion18812502
Massimo Luongo92.8110.621.7Swindon Town756611
Average95.6105.326.6


Spain

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Pepe Reina143.8143.831.8SSC Napoli62558084
Raúl Albiol130.4135.828.8SSC Napoli36831173
Juanfran119.1124.929.4Atletico Madrid36427510
Sergio Ramos171.5176.628.2Real Madrid50444817
Jordi Alba119.8122.625.2FC Barcelona24118339
Iniesta155.6162.430.1FC Barcelona53738050
Xabi Alonso162.4187.732.5Real Madrid62751548
Koke120.3134.022.4Atletico Madrid19112768
Santi Cazorla125.4131.329.5Arsenal FC43832198
David Villa136.8162.032.5Atletico Madrid52139682
Fernando Torres132.1140.030.2Chelsea FC55742336
Average137.9147.429.1
Bench
Cesc Fàbregas179.4182.127.1FC Barcelona50437982
Mata130.2130.426.1Manchester United35726679
David Silva139.3144.528.4Manchester City41732431
Iker Casillas166.4166.433.0Real Madrid75269870
De Gea119.7119.723.6Manchester United24923134
Piqué156.6159.927.3FC Barcelona36230619
Azpilicueta124.1128.324.8Chelsea FC28724956
Javi Martínez126.1127.025.8Bayern München35128958
Xavi142.5178.334.3FC Barcelona77663051
Busquets154.2154.625.9FC Barcelona31525286
Pedro144.3146.426.8FC Barcelona28918840
Diego Costa116.0117.225.7Atletico Madrid23117470
Average141.6146.227.4


Odds based on starting XI: Australia: 19.4%, draw: 27.7%, Spain: 53.0%

Spain vs Chile: Match Preview

Tiki-taka versus the pressing machine. Surely going to be an interesting tactical battle. Spain are the favorites, but they have been that against the Netherlands, too.

Spain

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Iker Casillas166.4166.433.0Real Madrid75269870
Sergio Ramos171.5176.628.2Real Madrid50444817
Jordi Alba119.8122.625.2FC Barcelona24118339
Azpilicueta124.1128.324.8Chelsea FC28724956
Javi Martínez126.1127.025.8Bayern München35128958
Iniesta155.6162.430.1FC Barcelona53738050
Xabi Alonso162.4187.732.5Real Madrid62751548
Busquets154.2154.625.9FC Barcelona31525286
David Silva139.3144.528.4Manchester City41732431
Pedro144.3146.426.8FC Barcelona28918840
Diego Costa116.0117.225.7Atletico Madrid23117470
Average143.6148.527.9
Bench
Pepe Reina143.8143.831.8SSC Napoli62558084
Raúl Albiol130.4135.828.8SSC Napoli36831173
Piqué156.6159.927.3FC Barcelona36230619
Juanfran119.1124.929.4Atletico Madrid36427510
Xavi142.5178.334.3FC Barcelona77663051
Cesc Fàbregas179.4182.127.1FC Barcelona50437982
Mata130.2130.426.1Manchester United35726679
Koke120.3134.022.4Atletico Madrid19112768
Santi Cazorla125.4131.329.5Arsenal FC43832198
David Villa136.8162.032.5Atletico Madrid52139682
Fernando Torres132.1140.030.2Chelsea FC55742336
Average137.9147.529.0


Chile

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Claudio Bravo98.698.631.2Real Sociedad29327057
Eugenio Mena123.6124.025.8Santos FC16814592
Mauricio Isla121.2121.326.0Juventus23417705
Gary Medel109.1111.226.8Cardiff City27823431
Gonzalo Jara102.4107.828.8Nottingham Forest22517784
Francisco Silva106.7111.928.3CA Osasuna22317706
Arturo Vidal142.3144.827.0Juventus33327441
Charles Aránguiz123.8126.825.1Internacional25021125
Marcelo Díaz122.4125.927.4FC Basel23416806
Alexis Sánchez136.8138.725.4FC Barcelona34423013
Eduardo Vargas120.3125.324.5Valencia CF21413936
Average118.8121.526.9
Bench
Cristopher Toselli119.6119.626.0Universidad Catolica19718300
Johnny Herrera115.4115.433.1Universidad de Chile29227174
Miiko Albornoz105.4114.423.5Malmö FF14912539
José Rojas118.8132.930.9Universidad de Chile27524457
Carlos Carmona102.7105.927.3Atalanta23819440
Jorge Valdivia91.4102.830.6SE Palmeiras13910193
Jean Beausejour108.1114.330.0Wigan Athletic28622430
Felipe Gutiérrez117.6125.923.7FC Twente15810984
José Fuenzalida107.7113.529.3Colo-Colo23718288
Mauricio Pinilla90.098.930.3Cagliari Calcio19711548
Fabián Orellana105.3110.528.3Celta Vigo23416796
Esteban Paredes91.8123.133.8Colo-Colo22819116
Average106.2114.828.9


Spain vs Netherlands: Goalimpacts of Lineups

Given Goalimpact this should be clear cut Spain. The Dutch have a team without obvious weaknesses and excellent forwards. Still Spain should dominate the midfield and generate more chances.

Spain

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Iker Casillas166.4166.433.0Real Madrid75269870
Piqué156.6159.927.3FC Barcelona36230619
Sergio Ramos171.5176.628.2Real Madrid50444817
Jordi Alba119.8122.625.2FC Barcelona24118339
Azpilicueta124.1128.324.8Chelsea FC28724956
Iniesta155.6162.430.1FC Barcelona53738050
Xavi142.5178.334.3FC Barcelona77663051
Xabi Alonso162.4187.732.5Real Madrid62751548
Busquets154.2154.625.9FC Barcelona31525286
David Silva139.3144.528.4Manchester City41732431
Diego Costa116.0117.225.7Atletico Madrid23117470
Bench
De Gea119.7119.723.6Manchester United24923134
Pepe Reina143.8143.831.8SSC Napoli62558084
Raúl Albiol130.4135.828.8SSC Napoli36831173
Juanfran119.1124.929.4Atletico Madrid36427510
Javi Martínez126.1127.025.8Bayern München35128958
Cesc Fàbregas179.4182.127.1FC Barcelona50437982
Mata130.2130.426.1Manchester United35726679
Koke120.3134.022.4Atletico Madrid19112768
Santi Cazorla125.4131.329.5Arsenal FC43832198
David Villa136.8162.032.5Atletico Madrid52139682
Fernando Torres132.1140.030.2Chelsea FC55742336
Pedro144.3146.426.8FC Barcelona28918840


Netherlands

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Jasper Cillessen112.5112.525.1AFC Ajax857588
Ron Vlaar114.6120.429.3Aston Villa23620965
Stefan de Vrij118.3132.322.3Feyenoord15913487
Bruno Martins111.3125.322.3Feyenoord13211321
Daley Blind133.0139.024.3AFC Ajax16914006
Daryl Janmaat121.4125.324.8Feyenoord18415412
Nigel de Jong136.6142.529.5AC Milan45436044
Jonathan de Guzmán107.8109.626.8Swansea City28722913
Wesley Sneijder142.8149.030.0Galatasaray45035013
Robin van Persie135.4148.530.8Manchester United47933654
Arjen Robben156.0165.230.3Bayern München49236171
Bench
Michel Vorm103.2103.230.6Swansea City26023975
Tim Krul97.197.126.2Newcastle United17716391
Paul Verhaegh82.394.730.8FC Augsburg29626769
Joël Veltman114.4128.122.4AFC Ajax493986
Terence Kongolo97.2126.020.3Feyenoord423155
Jordy Clasie117.3128.722.9Feyenoord15913185
Leroy Fer107.7113.124.4Norwich City24219322
Georginio Wijnaldum127.0135.723.6PSV Eindhoven24219393
Dirk Kuyt129.5161.033.8Fenerbahce71056293
Jeremain Lens139.8141.126.5Dinamo Kiev28519808
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar136.3149.230.8FC Schalke 0441733318
Memphis Depay100.4129.220.3PSV Eindhoven965935


Backtesting: Confederations Cup

Ultimately, the meaning of analysis is to either to improve or to predict. Being on the top-down side of analysis, my realm is the prediction of player performance and, based on this, team performance. Every prediction should be checked after the fact, so we can learn and improve.

Before the Confederations Cup I posted this ranking of national teams according to Goalimpact and other metrics. So how did they fare?


Betfair had all games right, just based on the odds of the World Cup (sic!) title. It was not entirely level playing field though, as Brazil's home advantage has been factored in into the odds while the other measures just rank the teams and thus got the final wrong. In all other games of Brazil, they would have been the favorite even without the home advantage.

However, we can still conclude that the cup was without any big surprises and was very predictable unless you use a very defunct scoring system such as the FIFA uses for their world ranking list. However, the market values published at transfermarkt.de are also not a perfect proxy for playing strength. Assuming transfermarkt.de publishes correct estimates of true market values, one must concluded that Mexican players are undervalued or Japanese overvalued.

Anyway, I'm content with Goalimpact's predictions. But the bar was low at this tournament. Everything but the final was right, so would I predict all the same? No! Of course not. Even if the predictions were correct, there is much to learn. Tahiti was rated far too good by Goalimpact and received a hefty downgrade as result of this tournament. This will also lead to a revaluation of historic Games of Tahiti with the new lower value and, in turn, common opponents will also experience a second order downgrade. Mainly this effects OFC countries. On the upside Brazil's performance raised the team's Goalimpact.

Spain's Perfect Eleven takes on the Confed Cup

Spain's national team is full with so many excellent football players that it is a pitty only eleven can play at a time. If the staring XI consists of the players with the highest Goalimpact, it would average above 150. Many of the opponents in this tournament don't even have a single player that good.

Player GoalImpact Age Team Games Minutes Position
Victor Valdes 184,6 31,4 FC Barcelona 477 44.369
GK
Iker Casillas 172,8 32,0 Real Madrid 692 64.244
GK
Pepe Reina
152,5 30,8 Liverpool FC 571 53.172
GK
Sergio Ramos 164,5 27,2 Real Madrid 426 37.948
DF
Pique 162,8 26,3 FC Barcelona 279 23.075
DF
Arbeloa 161,6 30,4 Real Madrid 287 24.521
DF
Raul Albiol 138,2 27,7 Real Madrid 301 25.267
DF
Azpilicueta 114,2 23,8 Chelsea FC 219 19.069
DF
Nacho Monreal 112,3 27,3 Arsenal FC 201 17.880
DF
Xavi 175,0 33,4 FC Barcelona 671 54.314
MF
Cesc Fabregas 173,2 26,1 FC Barcelona 432 33.105
MF
Iniesta 170,1 29,1 FC Barcelona 449 31.742
MF
Busquets 170,0 24,9 FC Barcelona 232 18.530
MF
David Silva 139,1 27,4 Manchester City 364 28.325
MF
Mata 133,9 25,1 Chelsea FC 299 22.491
MF
Jesus Navas 129,9 27,5 Sevilla FC 355 29.607
MF
Santi Cazorla 127,8 28,5 Arsenal FC 375 27.528
MF
Jordi Alba 126,6 24,2 FC Barcelona 192 14.371
MF
Javi Martinez 113,3 24,8 Bayern München 281 23.485
MF
Pedro 162,7 25,8 FC Barcelona 200 12.888
FW
David Villa 148,8 31,5 FC Barcelona 450 34.928
FW
Fernando Torres 133,7 29,2 Chelsea FC 506 39.235
FW
Soldado 120,2 28,0 Valencia CF 254 18.099
FW

Spain looks unbeatable in this tournament. Only Brazil may have a chance due to the home advantage.