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Match grade performance average (GPA) of Argentina and France during the 2022 World Cup Final

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Jesús Rico-Sanz, PhD

Soccer Performance & Science Institute


 

The 2022 World Cup Final showcased two top national teams with the two best players in the world at that moment; Messi with his Argentina National team playing against Mbappé with his France National team. Mbappé and France were the world champions in 2018. On the other hand, Messi had never won a World Cup before and 2022 was likely to be his last chance at winning it as he is close to retire from top level competition. The game offered dramatic moments all the way to the last plays of regulation time and overtime, with both teams creating sufficient scoring opportunities to have taken the World Cup to their home country. However, in the end penalty kicks in the shoot-out decided the World Cup Champion. Both Messi and Mbappé scored their own penalty kicks but it was Argentina who won the World Cup .


Several years ago I introduced the match grade performance average (match GPA) to analyze soccer matches and grade the players' performances with objectivity. I argued then that the most important key performance indicator of the quality of soccer players while in possession of the ball was the match grade performance average (match GPA). To my knowledge this is the first objective performance grading of a World Cup Final following a set of objective criteria using the soccer-GPA algorithms. The attacking match GPA of each of the players of Argentina and France was obtained after grading all actions with the ball executed by the players during the 90+ minutes of regulation time and the 30+ minutes of the overtime period. Penalty kicks during the shoot-out after the overtime are not taken into consideration in this analysis. Only the actions with the ball during the game were graded using the match GPA criteria; namely, the actions were all the ball controls, dribbles, passes, and scoring attempts.


NUMBER OF ACTIONS WITH THE BALL FOR ARGENTINA AND FRANCE

Argentina had more control of the ball on three of the four periods of the game; in the first half of the regulation, and in both halves of the overtime period. While France had more control of the game during the second half of regulation time. The second half saw a decrease of about 10%in the total number of actions with the ball when the actions of both teams were added.

PERIOD

ARGENTINA

FRANCE

1st half of regulation

543

352

2nd half of regulation

352

451

1st half of overtime

169

105

2nd half of overtime

124

57

Full game

1188

965

Below are the graphs for the total number of attacking actions with the ball for each of the players of the Argentina and France National teams during the 120+ minutes of the game.


Argentina

For Argentina the player with the largest total number of attacking actions was Fernandez, the central midfielder, with 162 actions with the ball, followed by De Paul, right midfielder, and Messi both with 134 actions with the ball.


Total number of technical attacking actions for Argentina during the 2022 World Cup
Total number of technical attacking actions for Argentina during the 2022 World Cup

France

For France the two players with the highest total number of attacking actions were the two central defenders Varane and Upamecano with 120 and 121 actions with the ball, respectively. Mbappé had only 78 actions with the ball during the course of the entire game including overtime.

Total number of technical attacking actions for France during the 2022 World Cup
Total number of technical attacking actions for France during the 2022 World Cup

The results of the total number of actions indicate that Argentina was more aggressive in pursue of the opponent's area and tried to channel their play through two midfielders Fernandez and De Paul as well as through Messi. Whereas for France, it seemed like the style of play was more conservative, as the two central defenders were the players with more touches on the ball. Even the third Argentinian midfielder McAllister had more actions with the ball (108) than Tchouameni the French midfield player who had the highest number of actions (105).


ATTACKING ACTIONS ACCURACY VS MATCH GPA

The percent accuracy of the attacking actions and the match GPA are shown below for Argentina and France. The results are shown only for players who started the game and reserves who at least had 10 contacts with the ball. Thus, for Argentina, Dybala and Pezella were excluded from these results; and for France Konate and De Sasi were excluded.


Argentina

Of the starting eleven for Argentina, the two central defenders Romero and Otamendi were the players with the highest % accuracy on their technical actions with 93% and 98% success. Messi had 88% accuracy on his attacking actions with the ball.

However, Messi had the highest match GPA for actions with the ball with a value of 1.95, followed by Di Maria with a match GPA of 1.72. The rest of the Argentinian players had a match GPA value below 1.50.

% Success vs Match GPA for Argentina during the 2022 World Cup
% Success vs Match GPA for Argentina during the 2022 World Cup

Di Maria's successful dribbling during the 2022 World Cup
Di Maria's successful dribbling during the 2022 World Cup

France

Of the starting eleven for France, the two central defenders Varane and Upamecano were the players with the highest % accuracy on their technical actions with 97% and 93% success. Mbappé had only 73% success on this technical actions.

However, Mbappé´s match GPA was 1.60 which was the highest value for the French team. The rest of the French starting eleven had a match GPA below 1.40. Thuram and Camavinga who played a significant part in the game had a match GPA of 1.47 and 1.43, respectively.

% Success vs Match GPA for France during the 2022 World Cup
% Success vs Match GPA for France during the 2022 World Cup

Mbappé's successful side volley scoring attempt during the 2022 World Cup
Mbappé's successful side volley scoring attempt during the 2022 World Cup

The average % success for all technical actions were 87% for Argentina and 84% for France. With regards to the match GPA for the attacking technical actions, Argentina's GPA was higher than France's GPA: 1.41 compared to 1.25. This indicates that not only Argentina was more successful during the game in the technical actions but they succeeded in the higher level of difficult actions.


MESSI'S MATCH GPA COMPARED TO OTHER ELITE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS

The results of this match analysis using the comparison of the % accuracy and the match GPA for the entire 2022 World Cup Final game (regulation time plus overtime) between Argentina and France showed that the two best players in the world at the present moment had the highest match GPA for their teams. Furthermore, Messi had the higher value of the two players (1.95 for Messi vs 1.60 for Mbappé). It is important to notice the high match GPA level of Di Maria in the World Cup Final. His match GPA in the 2022 World Cup final (1.72) is very similar to his match GPA in the Final of the 2020 UEFA Champions League (1.79). In that game, Di Maria played for PSG with Mbappé who in that game only had a match GPA of 1.36.


The fact that Messi obtained the highest match GPA ever reported gives validity to the match GPA as an objective grading method. The match GPA also demonstrates that in terms of the quality of the actions, Messi is the player with the highest quality in attacking actions with the ball. To demonstrate this high value in a World Cup Final is only possible for a player who has shown for many years his exceptional quality. We believe that the match GPA does justice to the players with the highest quality in technical actions. Messi did not have the highest % accuracy for his actions. However, the quality of his passes, dribbles, ball controls, and scoring attempts gave him the highest score value so far recorded. The match GPA grades quality and success in difficult actions.


During the last three years I have analyzed top class players from the best soccer countries in the world playing with other top players in the best teams and best leagues in the world, but none had a higher GPA than Messi when playing a full game. I analyzed and published the match GPAs of the players reaching three recent UEFA Champions League Finals (2020, 2021, 2022) with some of the best players in the world playing for Bayern Munich and PSG (2020 UCL Final), Chelsea and Manchester City (2021 UCL Final), and Real Madrid and Liverpool (2022 UCL Final). The highest values scored in those games were: in 2020, Di Maria for PSG (1.79) and Kimmich for Bayern Munich (1.60); in 2021, Havertz for Chelsea (1.82) and Mahrez for Manchester City (1.49); in 2022, Modric for Real Madrid (1.70) and Luis Diaz for Liverpool (1.66).


Messi protecting the ball from Rabiot and Griezmann in the 2022 World Cup Final
Messi protecting the ball from Rabiot and Griezmann in the 2022 World Cup Final

Messi obtained the following attacking GPAs during the 4 periods of the 2022 World Cup Final, including regulation time and overtime periods:

PERIOD

​ATTACKING BALL ACTIONS

GRADE PERFORMANCE AVERAGE (GPA)

1st half of regulation

55

1.93

2nd half of regulation

55

1.87

1st half of overtime

12

1.92

2nd half of overtime

12

2.42

These values in the different periods of the game further demonstrate the consistency on the quality of Messi's actions. But most importantly they show that the best player in the world, towards the end of his career, and with fatigue accumulating after 90+ minutes of regulation time, was capable of producing the best quality during the overtime period with a total overtime GPA of 2.17; remarkably, he had a GPA of 2.42 during the 2nd half of overtime after he had already played for over 105+ minutes.


Messi's successful scoring attempt in overtime in the 2022 World Cup Final
Messi's successful scoring attempt in overtime in the 2022 World Cup Final

PERIOD

​ATTACKING BALL ACTIONS

GRADE PERFORMANCE AVERAGE (GPA)

REGULATION 90+ minutes

110

1.90

OVERTIME 30+ minutes

24

2.17

FULL GAME (120+ minutes)

134

1.95


Messi dribbling during the 2022 World Cup
Messi dribbling during the 2022 World Cup

MESSI'S MATCH GPA: AN OBJECTIVE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUNG PLAYERS

The quality and accuracy of Messi's actions which have a high level of difficulty is what sets him apart from the rest of the players. Messi may not have the highest % of accuracy of a game, because he attempts very difficult actions, but undoubtedly his legacy for player development is his world record for match GPA for attacking actions while competing at the level.


Messi's match GPA values should motivate young players to aim at reaching the values obtained by the best player in the World while competing under the highest pressure conditions of a World Cup Final against the defending World Champions who had the second best player in the world Mbappé who had scored three goals in that game.


I will continue grading the top matches in the world waiting for the next player who will be able to surpass Messi's match GPA.



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