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FedEx Performance Zone: players to watch out for this season

Which players are likely to shine in the rankings this season? UEFA.com picks out six to keep a close eye on based on a simulation of the last UEFA Champions League campaign.

UEFA.com

The FedEx Performance Zone is a new and exciting addition to this season's UEFA Champions League, but which players are likely to be vying for the honour of topping the rankings?

Players' displays are tracked throughout the competition, with the data fed into a specially designed algorithm to create rankings based on performances which are updated every matchday. The data considered for each player is specific to their position. For example, clean sheets, tackles and attempts blocked are considered key statistics for defensive players, while goals, assists, crosses and passes are important metrics for midfielders and forwards.

Points are awarded in every match a player contests and are added to their scores from previous games in the competition, meaning whoever has the most points across the whole season heads the rankings. Performances in the group stage are weighted equally, although matches in subsequent rounds of the competition are weighted incrementally higher.

FedEx Performance Zone: how it works

To whet the appetite, we simulated last season's competition using the FedEx Performance Zone algorithm to give an indication as to who might shine across the next eight months. With that in mind, UEFA.com picks out six to watch as the FedEx Performance Zone makes its bow in European football's premier club competition.

Lionel Messi

Messi comfortably led the way after the group stage in the simulated FedEx Performance Zone rankings for last season. His 215 points were underpinned by three goals and he still sat second in the table after another two in the round of 16. The 34-year-old's powers show no sign of waning and he will be champing at the bit to show his new fans in Paris what he can do in a tough pool containing Manchester City, Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Erling Haaland

Six goals in four group games last time around set the relentless Dortmund striker on his way to being the 2020/21 top scorer in the competition. Four more in the round of 16 against Sevilla sent him top of the simulated standings and he remained there until the semi-finals commenced. Haaland has already bagged hat-tricks for club and country this season – bad news if you're a fan of section rivals Ajax, Beşiktaş and Sporting CP.

Diogo Jota

The forward has started the season in good form for Liverpool and Portugal – just as he did in 2020/21. His four goals and 358 completed minutes contributed to his total of 138 points during the group stage, which would have placed him 19th in the FedEx Performance Zone rankings after Matchday 6. Will the 24-year-old be able to replicate that performance this season in a group that includes AC Milan and former clubs Porto and Atlético de Madrid?

Track player form with the FedEx Performance Zone
Track player form with the FedEx Performance Zone

Duván Zapata

The Atalanta forward is returning to fitness at just the right time to make another splash in the standings, having been a handful of points away from a top-ten finish in the simulated group stage last term. He started the 2020/21 campaign with a bang, scoring three times in the Italian side's first two group games, and chipped in with two assists as they reached the last 16 for the second successive season. Manchester United, Villarreal and Young Boys beware.

Phil Foden

The form horse based on the 2020/21 simulation. The midfielder was not even in the top 50 after the group stage but the bigger the occasion, the more he came to the fore as Manchester City went all the way to the final. Goals in both legs of the quarter-final against Dortmund catapulted the 21-year-old into the top five and he reached the summit in the last four, remaining there for the rest of the competition.

Edouard Mendy

The Chelsea goalkeeper's position in the simulated rankings rose as the clean sheets racked up in the knockout stages – he ended their triumphant campaign with a remarkable nine shut-outs. It took two of them in the round of 16 against Atlético de Madrid for the Senegalese custodian to squeeze into the top 50 but, by the time he lifted the trophy, he was the top-rated goalkeeper and 12th overall. Can Juventus, Zenit and Malmö puncture his resistance in Group H?

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