Messi not in top 10? Video explains bizarre FIFA rankings system

Alex Baker
Dirty Tackle
Referee Nicola Rizzoli of Italy speaks with Argentina's Lionel Messi during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Argentina and Belgium at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, July 5, 2014
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Referee Nicola Rizzoli of Italy speaks with Argentina's Lionel Messi during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Argentina and Belgium at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, July 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

According to the latest rankings from FIFA, Switzerland defender Johan Djourou is the ninth best player in the World Cup so far, while Lionel Messi isn’t even in the top 10.

The Castrol Performance Index has been used by FIFA since 2009 to rank players based on mathematical formulas that assess individual players' performances. FIFA calls it “a definitive system for rating the world’s best players” that uses the technology to objectively analyze and rank player performance.

The index tracks every movement by every player on the field and assess how their actions contribute to scoring or creating goals, or preventing the opposition from scoring. According to the index, the field is broken down into different zones and different point scores are awarded for completing successful passes, depending on which zones they were played through.

Points awarded are also adjusted based on the difficulty of the opposition.

Misplaced passes result in point deductions based on whether or not they lead to a lost scoring opportunity or to conceding an opportunity to the other team. A goal scored will result in the player who scored being awarded points and the keeper who conceded having points deducted.

Confused? Yeah, so were we. Take a look at this video published by Castrol explaining how the index works.

It all sounds credibly scientific and fairly tangible.

But while mathematics may not lie, the Castrol Index does seem to overlook certain intangibles that are perhaps harder to quantify while crunching numbers.

Messi for instance, was man of the match in all of Argentina’s group stage matches and has been instrumental in hauling his team into the semifinals of the World Cup. Yet he’s ranked 11th by the index, two places behind Djourou, a defender who was on duty when the Swiss let in five goals against France.

The rankings aren’t completely crackpot however, with Brazil’s David Luiz currently ranked as the top player in the World Cup and Colombia’s James Rodriguez ranked second.

Here are the current top 10 players in the World Cup, according to the Castrol Index.

1. David Luiz (BRA) 9.79

2. James Rodriguez (COL) 9.74

3. Karim Benzema (FRA) 9.70

4. Arjen Robben (NED) 9.66

5. Jan Vertonghen (BEL) 9.62

6. Neymar (BRA) 9.59

7. Thiago Silva (BRA) 9.56

8. Ivan Perisic (CRO) 9.53

9. Johan Djorou (SWI) 9.50

10. Thomas Mueller (GER) 9.48

(11. Lionel Messi (ARG) 9.45)

A new, updated set of Castrol Index rankings should be released following the completion of the quarter final stages on Saturday. So now that you know how the rankings work, don't be surprised if Chris Wondolowski somehow outranks Thomas Mueller.

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