All the 48 group-stage matches in Russia have now been played and after each of them we have asked our readers to hand out their player ratings. The verdicts have then been inputted into our guide of all the 736 players at the 2018 World Cup – and we have now gone through them to see who makes our team of the tournament so far.
According to our readers, Iran’s Alireza Beiranvand gets the nod in goal and it is difficult to argue with that selection. Had a difficult upbringing and was at one stage sleeping rough in Tehran. He worked in a carwash and as a pizza delivery driver before becoming a professional footballer. He has been brilliant in Russia. Saving a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty against Portugal was only one of the highlights as he has produced several high-calibre stops and started Iran’s attacks with his long and accurate throws. Before the tournament he said: “I want to shine in the World Cup, then maybe I can join a European big club. I’d like to play at Liverpool or PSG.” He will not be short of offers. After the three games he had an average rating of 8.67, the highest of all the players in Russia.
Anyone who has done player-ratings knows that the full-backs are often the most difficult players to rate. You can get to 85 minutes and suddenly wonder what they have done. This has been reflected in our readers ratings with the centre-backs outscoring the full-backs by some margin. We have therefore opted for a three-man defence with an intriguing set-up. First we have Uruguay’s Diego Godín, who led his team from the back as they won all three Group A games without conceding a goal. The dominant Godín is joined by Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist who masterminded his country’s progress to the last 16 by being the leader of a very-well organised defence as well as scoring two of the team’s six goals, both on penalties. The final member of our backline is Manuel Akanji of Switzerland. The 22-year-old Borussia Dortmund defender has been one of the revelations of the tournament so far.
Where to start? Probably with Croatia. The coach, Zlatko Dalic, has arguably the most talented group of midfielders in Russia with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic both making our team. The La Liga duo have been instrumental in Croatia’s impressive performances against Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland and it will be fascinating to see how far they can go. A third member of the Croatia midfield, the irrepressible Ivan Perisic, just misses out on our XI.
The Croatia pair take up the two central positions with Kieran Trippier of England on the right and Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin. Trippier has had a superb tournament so far, dominating his right side and creating so many chances for his team from set-pieces. It should be remembered that he only played against Tunisia and Panama, two of the weaker teams in the tournament (he was rested for the game against Belgium) but there is not much he can do about that. Golovin has been the hosts’ best player so far together with Denis Cheryshev but did not play in the defeat against Uruguay so ended the group phase with two eights while the latter started with two eights and was then given a five in the final group game.
In a central attacking role, ahead of Modric and Rakitic, our readers have opted for Spain’s Isco. He has shown no signs of slowing down after a long season with Real Madrid and has been sublime to watch and was given an eight against Portugal, a seven against Iran and an eight again in the draw against Morocco. One of the players of the tournament so far.
The readers’ two-man forward line is made up of Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku. It is no surprise, perhaps, that they are both from Group G and were able to score against Panama and Tunisia but they both recorded on eight out of ten and one nine out of ten. They were then rested for their final game and therefore ended the group stage with an average rating of 8.5. Eden Hazard, Peru’s André Carrillo, Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa and South Korea’s Son Heung-min were other contenders for a place in the XI.
Check out every player’s ratings in our interactive guide here and don’t forget that you can hand our your own verdicts on every game in Russia at the bottom of the match reports (open for three days).
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