European Football Championship 2008: Movers and shakers
Jens Lehmann tops the goalkeeper rankings following Germany’s 4-0 drubbing of Switzerland. A series of crucial saves ensured Die Nationalelf’s fifth clean sheet in six games and saw the Arsenal stopper overtake France’s Grégory Coupet.
Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon and Spain’s Iker Casillas (above) benefited in an end-to-end game between Italy and Spain respectively. Spain won 1-0, but it would have been more were it not for the imperious Juventus stopper who made a series of match-winning stops including a double from close range. And David Villa’s stunning winner, an unstoppable, top-corner volley gave him no chance so he wasn’t penalised heavily. Similarly Casillas – previously prone to making costly errors on national duty – pulled off a number of key saves.
Poland’s Artur Boruc, in contrast, slipped from fifth to 12th as Poland lost at home to the USA, conceding at his near post from a long-range free-kick for one of the goals; the net result was the loss of 1,678 points.
Spain’s Sergio Ramos and France’s Lilian Thuram were the highest climbing defenders. Ramos kept Azzurri duo and CPI top men Luca Toni and Antonio di Natale under wraps, while Thuram ensured his keeper Coupet had little to do against England (one main reason why the French stopper slipped behind Lehmann!).
Though Werder Bremen defender Per Mertesacker is closing in on the top 20 following last month’s clean sheet by Germany, Germans and Italians are largely absent in the defensive rankings – in part, due to the impact of their respective stoppers. The CPI presumes that if a keeper is forced into action, the defence must have missed a tackle or block, so defenders are punished accordingly. Despite losing 4-0 last month, Switzerland mustered 10 shots on goal, so Germany’s defenders lost out.
Against Italy, Spain’s Cesc Fabregas (right) accrued 970 points for a combination of important tackles just outside his own area plus some incisive distribution. In the same game, Argentina-born Mauro Camoranesi scored 909 points by testing Casillas several times from distance.
German skipper Michael Ballack didn’t score in his side’s win, but for the second consecutive game he covered the most ground and was also central to Germany’s attacking threat: the result was 297 points and a place (just) inside the top 20.
Few will be surprised to see Germany duo Lukas Podolski (2,606 points) and Miroslav Klose (2,000 points) consolidate their positions towards the top of the pile, as both scored against Switzerland. And doing his best to join his team-mates is Mario Gomez, whose two goals fired him up the rankings to within 135 points of the man currently in 20th spot, Switzerland’s Hakan Yakin.
Les Bleus striker Nicolas Anelka was also on the up. Against England he scored the winner from the spot and was a constant menace, consistency that strengthens his case for a berth in Raymond Domenech’s starting XI.
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