World Cup Player Rankings: Who Lit Up Matchday 1 For Their Country

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From Chucky Lozano beating Germany, to a brace from Harry Kane, there are a number of individual performances that showed through in an already exciting first week of the World Cup. Whose proved to be the best?

Goalkeepers

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There were few surprise standouts including South Korea’s Jo Hyeon-woo and Egypt’s Mohamed El-Shenawy. A couple reminded us of their greatness including Kasper Schmeichel and Hugo Lloris.

David De Gea, Keylor Navas and Alisson looked shaky in their first game out, while Manuel Neuer was beat by Lozano’s perfectly placed strike.

  1. Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark)
  2. Hannes Halldorsson (Iceland)
  3. Jo Hyeon-woo (South Korea)
  4. Mohamed El-Shenawy (Egypt)
  5. Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)
  6. Ali Bieranvand (Iran)
  7. Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
  8. Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
  9. Mat Ryan (Australia)
  10. Hugo Lloris (France)

Right-Back/Right Wing-Back

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The top two of Joshua Kimmich and Dani Carvajal had a rough week, the latter not even getting a start. In Carvajal’s place came Nacho Fernandez who scored Spain’s third goal with a wonder strike, but also gave away a penalty for Portugal’s first.

Kieran Trippier shined for England while others followed in Carvajal’s footsteps by not starting, including Djibril Sidibe and Ricardo Pereira.

Kyle Walker will continue to play center back for Gareth Southgate which means we will not consider him a right back for our rankings.

  1. Carlos Salcedo (Mexico)
  2. Kieran Trippier (England)
  3. Mario Fernandes (Russia)
  4. Nacho Fernandez (Spain)
  5. Luis Advincula (Peru)
  6. Nordin Amrabat (Morocco)
  7. Stephen Lichtsteiner (Switzerland)
  8. Mikael Lustig (Sweden)
  9. Sime Vrsaljko (Croatia)
  10. Thomas Meunier (Belgium)

Left-Back/Left Wing-Back

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Aleksandar Kolarov’s free kick that was put past the outreaching Keylor Navas sees him top of the list this week. He had a massive defensive display as well, preventing Costa Rica’s right flank for most of the match.

There were more than a couple of outstanding performances from some surprise full-backs including Mexico’s Andres Gallardo, Iran’s Ehsan Haji Safi and Denmark’s Jens Stryger Larsen.

The Icelandic left-back Hordur Magnusson gets a high grade as well for helping his backline hold Sergio Aguero and Leo Messi.

  1. Aleksandar Kolarov (Serbia)
  2. Andres Gallardo (Mexico)
  3. Yuri Zhirkov (Russia)
  4. Aziz Behich (Australia)
  5. Ehsan Hajisafi (IR Iran)
  6. Yuto Nagatomo (Japan)
  7. Hordur Magnusson (Iceland)
  8. Jens Stryger Larsen (Denmark)
  9. Mohamed Abdelshafy (Egypt)
  10. Jordi Alba (Spain)

Center Backs

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Although they two of the best center halves in the Cup, not so great opening days for Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Samuel Umtiti sees them lose out in the rankings this week

Andreas Granqvist was tremendous for Sweden and is vital for that backline being one of the hardest to breakdown in this tournament.

It was the week of center back pairings as Australia, Denmark, Switzerland and Uruguay are represented in pairs for Matchday 1.

  1. Diego Godin (Uruguay)
  2. Andreas Granqvist (Sweden)
  3. Jose Gimenez (Uruguay)
  4. Nikola Milinkovic (Serbia)
  5. Trent Sainsbury (Australia)
  6. Fabian Schar (Switzerland)
  7. Manuel Akanji (Switzerland)
  8. Simon Kjær (Denmark)
  9. Mark Milligan (Australia)
  10. Harry Maguire (England)
  11. Roozbeh Cheshmi (IR Iran)
  12. Dusko Tosic (Serbia)
  13. Morteza Pouraliganji (IR Iran)
  14. Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)
  15. Hector Moreno (Mexico)

Defensive Midfield/Center Midfield

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The running theme of Mexico’s dominant game against Germany continues as Hector Herrera was the best central midfielder of the week. He was able to support Mexico in both halves of the pitch, being one the most effective players on the pitch.

Even with Spain’s 3-3 draw, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Koke shined for Fernando Hierro, while Valon Behrami did more than his fair share against Brazil this week, earning him the No. 1 spot.

Paul Pogba got France the result they needed even if he found it difficult to create anything because of Australia’s defending, while his midfield counterpart Aaron Mooy deserves some praise after a stellar performance on both sides of the ball.

  1. Valon Behrami (Switzerland)
  2. Hector Herrera (Mexico)
  3. Roman Zobnin (Russia)
  4. Aron Gunnarsson (Iceland)
  5. Aaron Mooy (Australia)
  6. Andres Iniesta (Spain)
  7. Sergio Busquets (Spain)
  8. N’Golo Kante (France)
  9. Nemanja Matic (Serbia)
  10. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
  11. Paul Pogba (France)
  12. Luka Modric (Croatia)
  13. Jordan Henderson (England)
  14. Koke (Spain)
  15. Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)

Attacking Midfield/Wingers

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NOTE: With so many countries playing natural attacking midfielders in wing positions, and vice versa, we thought it’d be easier to just group the two together in one class.

Thus far Russia have two of the World Cup’s breakout stars, in Aleksandr Golovin and Denis Cheryshev. Both of them have shown incredible skill as attackers, the former showing an expansive range of passing, the latter showing his scoring prowess with 3 goals to his name.

It was Dries Mertens’ skillfully-lofty goal that ignited a less-than-impressive Belgium, while also being a perfect foil to Lukaku and Hazard. Christian Eriksen got the help he needed up front as Yussuf Poulsen found his shooting boots and creativity that he had previously lost back in Leipzig about a year ago.

Spain might have not won it all, but Isco was the axis of Spain’s attacking, covering the entirety of the pitch and seemingly never not touch the ball. Chucky Lozano also deserved a high ranking for scoring against the defending World Champions.

  1. Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)
  2. Denis Cheryshev (Russia)
  3. Isco (Spain)
  4. Hirving Lozano (Mexico)
  5. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Serbia)
  6. Yussuf Poulsen (Denmark)
  7. Dries Mertens (Belgium)
  8. Carlos Vela (Mexico)
  9. David Silva (Spain)
  10. Eden Hazard (Belgium)
  11. Christian Eriksen (Denmark)
  12. Andre Carillo (Peru)
  13. Mbaye Niang (Senegal)
  14. Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
  15. Kylian Mbappe (France)

Strikers

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Cristiano Ronaldo gave us little doubt that he is still the best finisher in the world with his hat-trick against Spain, singlehandedly bringing Portugal to a 3-all draw. But, Diego Costa showed a touch of pure class against the Portuguese, faking out Pepe and Fonte and hammering his shot past Rui Patricia, while also scoring another later on that night.

Harry Kane had something to say to the Iberian Peninsula, scoring two goals of his own, the second being a game winner in stoppage time against Tunisia. He looked hungry for goals and has picked up where he had left off for Tottenham just one month prior.

The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Yuya Osako and Alfred Finnbogason were all vital to their sides’ attacks and, subsequently, their sides’ result, Lukaku scoring a brace and Osako scoring a game-winning header.

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
  2. Diego Costa (Spain)
  3. Harry Kane (England)
  4. Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
  5. Alfred Finnbogason (Iceland)
  6. Yuya Osako (Japan)
  7. Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
  8. Sergio Aguero (Argentina)
  9. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia)
  10. Antoine Griezmann (France)

 

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