Since the 3-0 victory over Spain in the Confed Cup final Scolari’s team is set up. He found a reliable team, full of eagerness to win the world cup at home. The core of the Seleção are the four captains Jùlio César, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Fred. Nevertheless most attention concentrates on Neymar, number 10 and the latest candidate for being the new Pelé. Even though Scolari is deeply trusted by his team and fans, his decisions regarding some players are not.
Taking part in the Goalimpact series World Cup – All Optimal National Teams I want to see wether Felipao is doing the right thing – or if he left some players out that had to be in his squad. To judge that, we don’t rely on personal opinions but on the Goalimpact – a number, that tells us how much a player hat effected his team’s goal difference. The higher, the better. This gives us the opportunity to compare players beyond the borders of positions, leagues and even generations. Hiwever, this does not lead to tactical decisions – as the Goalimpact does not tell us how a player effects the goal difference.
Back to Brasil’s national team: Does the Goalimpact back Scolari’s decisions? Or have the fans to be worried? One thing I can promise: There have to be made a few spectacular substitutions …
The team with the highest Goalimpact rating on their positions is:
As you can see at first glance: five players started by Goalimpact don’t even appear in Scolari’s 23-man-squad (red). The other six are, but only three of them are also in their manager’s starting eleven (green).
At second glance we recognize that Goalimpact has not just left Neymar out – but all four captains as well! Why in the world would you do that?! Let’s have a closer look:
Goalimpact goes like a bull at a gate: not one single of Scolari’s goalkeepers are cosen by Goalimpact as well! Helton (GI 148) from FC Porto would be the crystal clear number 1, followed by Benfica’s Artur Moraes and Fábio (Cruzeiro). Scolari’s starter, Jùlio César (116), is only fourth best. Here you can see the meaning of Família Scolari: publicly he isn’t indisputable, but Scolari has absolute confidence in him. That there is no place in the squad for 32 points better Helton is a mystery nonetheless.
Even the back four don’t remain untouched: at least in the nomination of full backs the algorithm and the 2002 world cup champion agree – there is no way around Marcelo (150) and Dani Alves (178). But the centre backs are different ones – Goalimpact prefers Alex (141) from PSG and Bayern’s Dante (136). There might definitely be arguments for Dante compared to sometimes chaotic David Luiz – but why one would leave out Thiago Silva is absurd. The guys over at Spielverlagerung even described him „with peace of conscience as history’s best centre back“ and Brasil’s key player in their WC special. His colleague Alex has no arguments besides the GI – and therefore won’t add more to his 17 caps.
Luiz Gustavo (141) is the country’s first holding midfielder, for Scolari and Goalimpact. His combatants however are chosen differently: Scolari favors Paulinho and Oscar, Goalimpact plays Fernandinho (145) and Fernando (140) instead. Whilst the first one is in the squad, the latter misses the tournament.
Here is all about Neymar – not. Goalimpact selects three different players: Willian (141) and former world player Kakà (133) play behind the lonely striker Alan (131) from RB Salzburg. Why Scolari plays Hulk (131) instead of Kaká is understandable (only 2 points difference), but Fred’s place is hard to save: Alan is rated higher by 20 points. Just another case where the principle família comes in: his place in the first eleven and his leading role are guaranteed through the confed cup. Alan and Kaká have to watch the world cup at home. Striking is the change in left attacking midfield: Willian and Neymar are separated by 27 GI points. Will he be able to fulfill his free role on a world cup level?
And it even gets better – here is Scolari’s team of choice:
The names are known – consider the colors: not enough, that Scolari’s key players are not started by Goalimpact, they even are left out completely! How would one justify that?
Potencial, consistency, perception
As said in the beginning, Goalimpact doesn’t make a statement about how a player affects the team’s goal difference. To put it clearly: A player that scores four goals but allows three to the opponent has a better GI than a player who doesn’t score, but keeps the sheet clean. For a team’s balance the latter could be, however, the better choice.
Plus, in judging players you usually think in terms of potential: What is a player capable of doing, if he uses his skillset properly in the right position and system? Goalimpact in contrast looks at the outcome – independent from the player being played in the wrong position or the tactics being tailor-made to him.
Another factor is the perception of players like Neymar: Everyone knows him, his tricks and goals – but all the matches he has had no impact on fade away in the public memory and don’t produce YouTube clips. Maybe Neymar overperformes regularly – but as long as he underperformes at the same number, he is rated equally to a player that has average performances throughout.
Grey is, young friend, all theory
Scolari put a team together he believes in. A sworn in collective, knowing each other for some time, focused on a common goal. A football team, with strenghts and weaknesses balanced by an experienced manager, connected through a tactical plan, with joy to play together. All these is not measurable by Goalimpact.
If the família Scolari was successful in the end – that however will be readable from the Goalimpact.
Find below the GI charts from all players, nominated by Scolari or Goalimpact. The thin line (not on keeper’s charts) represents the expected peak. If it stays stable, the player develops as foreseen; if it raises, better than expected.
Brasil’s WC squad with GI values. GI’s alternatives in the right columns.
|Scolari’s squad||Goalimpact’s picks|
|GK||Júlio César||116,48||Helton||148,31||+ 31,83|
|GK||Victor||115,40||Artur Moraes||120,35||+ 4,95|
|CB||David Luiz||131,88||Alex||141,23||+ 9,35|
|CB||Thiago Silva||129,16||André Ramalho||136,21||+ 7,05|
|CF||Fred||110,59||Luiz Adriano||127,09||+ 16,50|