FIFA's website has a load of detail on individual matches and overall stats although for a lot of the more detailed information is held in a multitude of PDF files (how I've put the data together is too dull for even a stats blog, but will probably cover it on my business blog at some stage).
I've done plenty over the last couple of years with Opta data but it was interesting to see FIFA provide information on distance covered and sprints for each player for every game which adds an extra layer of data.
What I've created is a dataset with factors such as time played, distance run and number of sprints, I've reworked the figures to re-calibrate to a 90 minute equivalent where someone has taken part in extra time (if someone has played a full match which with injury time is usually around 95 minutes then this is classed as 90 minutes).
distance covered by Messi over the tournament and it's certainly true that he's at the lower end of the scale in terms of activity but like Pirlo that doesn't necessarily make him tired or lazy and would need to be compared to his normal output for Barcelona.
|Top sprinters - playing 90+ minutes of a match to avoid cases of high impact subs who might per minute produce higher rates. Could also look at different levels for the cut-off.|
|Bradley with 3 of the top 10, most impressive of all is the one against Belgium where he's managed to keep the rate up to include extra time|
One of the biggest criticisms of British football is the love of someone who can 'Just fahking run around a bit' over technique and if 'having a good engine' was everything, then it'd be Mo Farah rather than James Rodriguez being unveiled at Real Madrid.
As always it's a balance between skill and athleticism but I'd imagine it'd be far easier to improve someone's physical condition that their skill level, especially beyond their mid-20s.