LONDON - Form may be temporary, as the saying goes, but when a World Cup is at stake temporary attributes can be crucial to a successful campaign and statistics revealed this week suggest Germany and Uruguay could have the edge over other favorites in Brazil.
Sports data analysts Opta have been poring over last season's statistics from Europe's top five leagues in England, Spain, France, Italy and Germany and have constructed a formula that may provide an insight into who will lift the World Cup on July 13.
They have come up with a "Dream Team" of form players who should be the ones to watch in Brazil.
"The 11 was devised by looking at a range of stats for each player in each position," Duncan Alexander, head of UK content at Opta, told Reuters on Tuesday.
"Opta collect more than 250 categories and record about 2,000 data points in each match that's analysed, but we have a range of tools that allow us to easily filter players by attribute and performance."
The line-up, which is sure to provoke arguments in pubs, beer-halls, cafes and taverns the world over, contains the usual suspects Yaya Toure, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but former champions Germany and Uruguay both boast two in-form players heading to Brazil.
Germany can rely on versatile captain Philipp Lahm, who recorded a passing accuracy of 92 percent in the Bundesliga, supplying balls to blond-haired maestro Marco Reus. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder made the statistical team through having a direct involvement in 40 goals in all competitions this season.
Uruguay's Group D opponents Costa Rica, England and Italy, will have to contend with formidable centre back Diego Godin, while Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who faces a battle to be fit for the World Cup after undergoing knee surgery, was involved in 43 league goals this season, more than any other player in the top five European leagues.
"There is an element of subjectivity when choosing any group of players," admits Alexander, whose company put the team together for bookmaker William Hill.
"But by utilising categories that we know professional clubs value, this team should be the most effective choice based on recent performance levels."
The XI to watch:
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
Defenders: Philipp Lahm (Germany), Diego Godin (Uruguay), Giorgio Chiellini (Italy), Leighton Baines (England)
Midfielders: Arturo Vidal (Chile), Marco Reus (Germany), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)
Forwards: Luis Suarez (Uruguay), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
(Editing by Ossian Shine)