How do the strikers score in the EURO 2008?

When it comes to goals the old adage says they all count, but when it comes to the CPI standings, some just count more than others!

Among the players going to this year’s Euro 2008 finals, the highest and joint second-highest goalscorers in qualifying were Poland’s Ebu Smolarek (with nine goals) and German front man Lukas Podolski (on eight). Yet both trailed Italian Luca Toni in the Castrol Performance Index rankings. And the reason for that? The CPI is a complex system that doesn’t just take goals and assists into consideration. Instead it works out the probability of scoring in a given situation and where the goal was scored from. It then awards points for more complex goals and effective team play.

Some strikers – such as Netherlands front man Ruud van Nistelrooy – are considered poachers. At Manchester United, in line with the style of the Premier League, almost all of his goals were scored from inside the box. In La Liga, however, even the most clinical of hitmen is required to collect possession deeper, and since switching to Real Madrid the Dutchman is now scoring goals from everywhere. Such a transition is perfect fodder for the Castrol Performance Index, which not only measures goals, but also the probability of them occurring. Where was it scored from? What part of the goal was it scored in? What chance the goalkeeper had of saving it? Every element is calculated, and points are then allocated accordingly with tougher goals being rewarded with more CPI points

A goal that earned Toni a massive 936 points, illustrates the system perfectly. Playing against Scotland at Hampden Park during qualifying, the Italian found the net with a header from a flighted free-kick. The probability of the cross finding Toni, and also of him then beating his markers and finding the far corner of the net to beat the goalkeeper, was very low, so the points reward was high. Compare that to his second goal in the same game, another header, but this time the cross came from a wider position, increasing the chances of it finding its target. Additionally, Toni was unmarked to head home from close range, and he directed the ball closer towards the middle of the goal: result – 613 points.

Two of Podolski’s eight qualifying goals came against Slovakia, considered weak opposition: and his points were subsequently lower than they would have been against a team deemed more of a test. Moreover, one of the German’s two strikes resulted from a pull-back from the right which he fired home from inside the six-yard box, the ball squeezing underneath the keeper’s feet: close-range, and with the keeper partly to blame, it therefore warranted just 560 points.