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World Cup: A statistical look inside the numbers

Kylian Mbappe's brace against Poland saw him surge to the top of the Golden Boot race with five goals, and the question now is can anyone challenge him?

Harry Kane also doubled his tally against France, but his missed penalty denied the chance to not only be in contention for back-to-back Golden Boots, but to keep his side's World Cup hopes alive.

He does however still lead the World Cup assist charts, albeit he is tied with Antoine Griezmann and Bruno Fernandes.

But what about the underlying numbers behind the statistical leaders? Who is over-performing and under-performing?

Let’s take a look.

xG leaders

Considering how poor they were in the build-up, it may be a surprise to see Poland's Robert Lewandowski still third on the xG chart on 2.955. The Bayern Munich man cut an isolated figured throughout much of Poland's four games, but two efforts from the penalty spot (no, his original saved penalty against France doesn't count...) helped him climb the xG table.

It is much less of a surprise to see Lionel Messi and Mbappe first and fourth on 4.038 and 2.894 (though Messi's is bolstered by his three penalty attempts), with the pair averaging a shot every 18.5 minutes, or 4.87 shots per 90. For context, Erling Haaland is currently averaging 4.25 per 90 in the Premier League for Manchester City.

Cody Gakpo's goalscoring run came to an end against the USA, prior to which he'd scored three goals from just four shots accumulating 0.534 xG. He's now ranked 87th for xG on 0.570, which may go some way to explaining his blank against Argentina.

Bukayo Saka joined England team-mate Marcus Rashford on three goals, scoring against Senegal, but his output aligned him closer to the likes of Gakpo than Messi, with just seven shots and an xG of 0.822, making him the second-biggest over-performer behind Gakpo.

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Mbappe is the third-highest over-performer, but we are talking about perhaps the best player in the world, who regularly out-performs his xG.

And what about the under-performers?

You won't be surprised to see that, despite only playing 55 minutes at the World Cup, Romelu Lukaku is the biggest under-performer after missing a host of big chances against Croatia. The Inter man came on at half-time and still posted 1.503 xG without finding the back of the net.

Jamal Musiala impressed despite Germany's exit, but racked up 1.485 xG without scoring, making him the second-biggest under-performer, with Canada’s Jonathan David, Lautaro Martinez and Raphinha the only other players to have put up an xG at least 1.000 worse than their actual tally. 

xA leaders

Harry Kane leads the assist charts with Bruno Fernandes and Antoine Griezmann on three, and while he hadn't quite been his usual self in front of goal, he was at his creative, playmaking best throughout the tournament, and is ahead of Vinicius Jr. Phil Foden, Messi and Mbappe, all on two. 

But with an xA of 1.5, he’s the second biggest over-performer (-1.5), with only Davy Klaassen higher with two assists from 0.2 xA (-1.8).

France’s Griezmann tops the xA charts on 2.3 and is having an excellent tournament for Les Bleus, but with only one assist to his name, don’t be surprised to see that rise over the next fortnight.

England's luck runs out

It's hard to read too much into xG based on such a small sample size, which is what we're dealing with at a World Cup, but prior to the loss against France, England were actually the biggest over-performers on their xG. 

Their goal difference was +10 while their xGD was just 3.487 thanks to some clinical finishing in front of goal and some excellent saves by Jordan Pickford, but their luck seemed to run out, with Harry Kane missing the second penalty of the game. 

The Netherlands - previously the second biggest over-performers - jumped into top spot after scoring twice against Argentina, and you won't be surprised to see that Morocco, having only conceded one goal all tournament are second.

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