Arsenal duo have best passing stats at World Cup - criticism unjust?

Germany's Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker have stood out in two key areas in Brazil.

Which is interesting when you consider the criticism Germany have received this tournament, particularly Arsenal man Ozil.

The German media, as well as Gunners fans, have been quick to slate the 25-year-old's performances, while Mertesacker was dropped in favour of Mats Hummels against France. Hummels happened to get the winning goal for good measure.

But both Arsenal's Ozil and Mertesacker have been key to Germany's progression to the semi-finals - statistically, at the very least.

  TeamPosForward PassAppsMins
Toni Kroos Germany MF 130 5 479
Per Mertesacker Germany DF 130 4 390
Daniel van Buyten Belgium DF 110 5 480
Philipp Lahm Germany MF 104 5 480
Fernando Gago Argentina MF 103 5 339

As Opta stats show, the 'big friendly German' has made the joint-most forward passes at the World Cup, a feat he shares with team-mate Toni Kroos, despite playing a game less.

More than just a traditional defender who boots the ball into Row Z, Mertesacker is a forward-thinking centre-back used to starting moves from his own half.

  TeamPosSuccessful Final Third PassesAppsMins
Mesut Özil Germany MF 121 5 445
Toni Kroos Germany MF 115 5 479
Lionel Messi Argentina FW 89 5 453
Bastian Schweinsteiger Germany MF 84 4 295
Philipp Lahm Germany MF 81 5 480

Ozil, meanwhile, has impressed on the other side of the half-way line, making the most successful final-third passes out of anyone in Brazil. Kroos features again, having made six less than the Arsenal man, while Lionel Messi is a full 42 behind.

Whatever criticism is aimed at Ozil for his displays, then, his rhythmic passing cannot be considered to be one of his flaws. And efficient, incisive passing is, after all, the German way.

  TeamPosAccurate PassesPassing Accuracy (%)AppsMins
Philipp Lahm Germany MF 394 91.42 5 480
Toni Kroos Germany MF 388 90.87 5 479
Per Mertesacker Germany DF 275 93.86 4 390
Bastian Schweinsteiger Germany MF 234 88.64 4 295
Jerome Boateng Germany DF 216 83.08 5 435
Mesut Özil Germany MF 216 87.45 5 445

In terms of passing accuracy, 29-year-old Mertesacker has the highest percentage and has made the third-highest amount of accurate passes within the German squad.

Ozil also features in the top six and has completed 87.45% of his passes.

Those figures shed light on just how Germany have made it through to the last four despite what many have seen as a poor showing this World Cup thus far.

Although stats cannot tell you everything - and passing is just one aspect of the game - Ozil and Mertesacker's contribution with the ball shows their value to Joachim Low's side. Their tournament so far has been an exercise in German precision.

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