World Cup data from Goal shows Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are still unbeatable despite early exits

It may have been one of the most entertaining and surprising tournaments in memory, but this World Cup also had some predictable outcomes.

Despite France’s victory, England’s run to the semis and Germany’s early exit, the numbers still point to one thing: nothing beats the pulling power of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Neymar. Data from publisher Goal shows why.

According to the publisher, 159m people engaged with the website’s World Cup content, and it was Ronaldo articles that proved the most popular. 10.3m hits related to the Portuguese star, with Lionel Messi just behind on 9.8m. The two are way out ahead with Neymar coming in third on 6m and Kylian Mbappe fourth with 3.1m.

The figures don’t include Goal’s coverage of Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Juventus, which wasn’t World Cup content, but it does show the interest in the biggest-name players is still centred around Ronaldo and Messi even before they complete mega-money transfers.

Lionel Messi walks off the pitch after Argentina lose to France at World Cup 2018

James Dickens, Goal’s Global Editor-in-chief said, “Being able to cater for global football fans puts us in an enviable position at Goal and presents us with data that helps us to understand them better.

“Publishers and brands recognise that Ronaldo and Messi won’t last for ever and that new stars will have to take their place. Russia 2018 is regarded by many as the both players’ final World Cup, giving us four years to find their heirs.

“Four years is a long time in football, but it’s sobering to see that aside from Neymar no player comes close to matching them for global appeal. However, with youth on their side, I’d expect young players like Mbappe, Kane and Lukaku to continue to rise in prominence and become football’s next global megastars.”

Goal’s data also highlighted the individual matches that generated the most traffic during the tournament. The results here again show the draw of the biggest names: rather than the final drawing the most interest across the publisher’s global editions, it was the final round of matches in Germany’s group – when they lost to South Korea and Mexico faced Sweden that generated the most traffic.

Dickens said: “The World Cup is a great opportunity for fans to come together and revel in their team’s success. However, it’s clear from our data that the real draw is big team upsets, of which Russia 2018 had more than its share.”

Meanwhile, away from the sporting action, VAR also played a role in driving interest in World Cup content for the publisher.

“We can see from our data that VAR was the most talked about element of the 2018 World Cup, outside of players and matches,” said Dickens. “The controversy around VAR was closely followed by Neymar’s diving, time wasting by the likes of Uruguay and Japan, and Shaqiri and Xhaka’s pro-Albanian celebration.”

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Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 813 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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