A frustrated figure in Portugal's first two matches of UEFA EURO 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo finally cut loose against the Netherlands with two goals and a hail of additional shots in a performance which leaves him top of the Castrol EDGE Index at the conclusion of the group stage.
On top of the fact that he fired his side into the last eight, the Selecção captain could also content himself with a match rating of 9.75 – the highest of the tournament so far. Having been in 12th position in the full ranking after the second set of group games, the 27-year-old climbed 11 places up the Index following his man-of-the-match display in Kharkiv, and is now the player for the chasing pack to catch with an overall score of 9.68.
Things had not gone as well for the Real Madrid CF man in his two previous outings, however, as none of his eight strikes on target found the back of the net. Indeed, in what is an indication of his perseverance, Ronaldo's opener against the Netherlands came from his 14th attempt of the finals. Overall, he had 12 efforts, blocked shots included, in the 2-1 triumph over the Oranje, the most in a EURO finals fixture by any player since 1980.
Up to second from fourth and hot on Ronaldo's heels is David Silva (9.60), whose stamp is on four of Spain's six goals. Though he played fewer minutes, 227, than the rest of the top ten, the classy playmaker has laid on three goals and scored one himself.
Alan Dzagoev, meanwhile, went into Russia's final Group A fixture on top of the pile following three goals in his first two appearances. Along with Italy's Claudio Marchisio − two places behind in fifth − the 22-year-old took the Index honours in each of his previous two outings, and though he could not prevent his team from exiting the tournament, his creditable pass completion of 76% against Greece ensured he remained on a high perch with a mark of 9.53.
The biggest mover, however, is Olof Mellberg, up from 36th after Sweden's 3-2 defeat by England to fourth following the Blågult's morale-boosting triumph over France, who had gone into the Kyiv encounter undefeated in 23. In a top ten dominated by attack-minded players, the experienced centre-back is the stand-out name.
It is in the opposition penalty area where he has earned a sizeable proportion of his credit. On the mark against Roy Hodgson's men, he was denied another goal by an expert save from France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The experienced stopper also excelled in the fundamental elements of a defender's game, such as winning the ball back and blocking, typified when he slid in with perfect timing to prevent Philippe Mexès from reaching a Samir Nasri delivery. His match score of 9.64 against France was his highest of the finals.
Andrés Iniesta also made ground, moving from tenth to sixth. The Spain midfielder tormented the opposition in Group B, embarking on 17 dribbles, a tally that only one other player, Franck Ribéry, can better.
Like Mellberg, Álvaro Arbeloa profited from a productive third outing. The Index's best performer against Croatia, the rampaging right-back has had more touches of the ball in the opposition box, nine, than any other defender in Poland and Ukraine. Crucially, he has helped the holders to two clean sheets by successfully winning the ball back 47 times, a total which includes three tackles.
Making up the top ten are Nicklas Bendtner (seventh), Zlatan Ibrahimović (ninth) and Czech Republic winger Václav Pilař (tenth).
Key facts so far
2 – Alan Dzagoev and Claudio Marchisio are the only players to have topped the game-by-game Castrol EDGE Index more than once.
4 – David Silva has scored or provided the assist for four of Spain's six goals at UEFA EURO 2012.
7 − Seven players registered twice in a match during the group stage: Dzagoev, Mario Mandžukić, Andriy Shevchenko, Nicklas Bendtner, Mario Gomez, Fernando Torres and Cristiano Ronaldo.
13 – Efforts on target by Ronaldo, three more than any other player.
16 – Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski were the most fouled players in the group stage.
120 – Spain had possession for a total of 120 minutes during their three Group C fixtures, a finals high.
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