With the World Cup rapidly approaching, have had a look at Australia and their Group D opponents in regards to Castrol's Performance Index.
'The Castrol Performance Index is a ranking system sponsored by Castrol for men's national team players in world football. It uses a mathematical formula which evaluates all player actions during a match in terms of how they either assist or prevent a goal. It also weights its score by taking into account the strength of the opposition and the time in a game the player's actions occurred.'
At the top of the list for the Germans is Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez who comes in at number 29 in the world but the next section of players drops way for the Germans indicating that they are very beatable. From world number 46, Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Toni Kroos, through to world number 180, Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Germans have just eight players in their preliminary squad ranked which means many players are out of form or the team is simply well-balanced and full of no noticeable stars. The fact that world number 53 Michael Ballack is now out of the Cup bodes well for Germany's opponents although at 33 years of age, his influence on a game is not as it once was. The big surprise was that expected number one goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was all the way down at number 250 in the world. Castrol's Top 10 (in 27-man preliminary World Cup squad) 29 - Mario Gomez 46 - Toni Kroos 49 - Per Mertesacker 82 - Serdar Tasci 87 - Mesut Ozil 89 - Stefan Kießling 120 - Holger Badstuber 128 - Cacau 164 - Philipp Lahm 180 - Bastian Schweinsteiger
With only 6 players ranked by Castrol, it is hard to gauge Australia's squad with this comparison. At 120, Everton's Tim Cahill is easily the highest-ranked Aussie and is closely followed by Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer at 132 but it will be the unknown quantity Australia brings to South Africa that will worry opponents. They will know about the likes of Mark Bresciano at 648 and Brett Emerton (in the 1000s) but it will be players that have not had much exposure leading into the tournament that could hold the key. In saying that, the fact that many Australians aren't in the rankings could indicate that South Africa may not be a happy hunting ground for the Socceroos. Castrol's Top 6 (in 31-man preliminary World Cup squad) 120 - Tim Cahill 132 - Mark Schwarzer 648 - Mark Bresciano 1266 - Brett Emerton 1269 - Vince Grella 1360 - Richard Garcia
The Ghanaians only have one player ranked in the top 100 and then have just a smattering of players in the top 1,000 indicating they may be in for a difficult World Cup campaign. Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien is easily ranked the highest of all the Ghana players, coming in at 79th in the world, but he is overcoming an injury meaning their top player currently playing is Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan, ranked at 384. Central defensive duo John Pantsil and John Mensah are ranked 616th and 1452nd respectively whilst Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng comes in at 795. These rankings say that World Cup 2010 will not be a happy time for the Black Stars but luckily they are only ratings and not actual performances as a national team. Castrol's Top 10 (in 31-man preliminary World Cup squad) 79 - Michael Essien 384 - Asamoah Gyan 567 - Kwadwo Asamoah 616 - John Panstil 619 - Derek Boateng 795 - Kevin-Prince Boateng 942 - Sulley Muntari 1178 - Isaac Vorsah 1452 - John Mensah 1843 - Richard Kingson
The Serbians are well served with five players in the top 400, led by Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, meaning they have some noticeable key players, but it is the next section where all the squad depth comes from. In between 619 and 1350, there are six players in the preliminary squad of 30 which indicates that Serbia will be a strong unit with no apparent stars but plenty of capable players, making them hard to beat. Noted players ranked high are Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic at 52 and Bourssia Dortmund's Neven Subotic at 144. Castrol's Top10 (in 30-man preliminary World Cup squad) 49 - Branislav Ivanovic 52 - Nemanja Vidic 144 - Neven Subotic 342 - Zdravko Kuzmanovic 362 - Dejan Stankovic 619 - Aleksandar Kolarov 987 - Aleksandar Lukovic 1105 - Gojko Kacar 1143 - Nikola Zigic 1457 - Nenad Milijas