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Rated! The best and worst performer so far from every team left in the World Cup

Isco Spain World Cup


Antoine Griezmann

Star man

Chelsea's N’Golo Kante has been his usual self at the World Cup, making 10 interceptions (Wilfred Ndidi was the only midfielder to make more) to break up play before invariably moving the ball onto a team-mate efficiently. He's also recovered possession more times than any other player at the tournament. 

Must improve

Antoine Griezmann scored a penalty in the 2-1 victory over Australia, but he’s done little else in Russia so far despite being moved into his favoured second-striker role for matches against Peru and Denmark. France will need more from their star man when they do battle with Argentina this weekend.


Lionel Messi

Star man

Lionel Messi’s penalty miss against Iceland could have been fatal to Argentina’s hopes of qualifying from Group D, but he was still their standout performer in the opening game. The 31-year-old was quiet in the 3-0 loss to Croatia, before delivering a first-half masterclass – and scoring arguably the goal of the tournament so far – in the pivotal 2-1 win against Nigeria.

Must improve

Javier Mascherano was dire against Nigeria; sloppy with his distribution, shoddy with his positioning and suspect with his decision-making. Though a brilliant player at his peak, it’s hard to see how the China-based 34-year-old is justifying his place in the team at present.


Diego Godin

Star man

Diego Godin has been superb at the heart of a backline which is yet to concede in Russia. The Atletico Madrid man’s reading of the game is exceptional, and his aerial ability has been important in both boxes. He’s even showed a willingness to carry the ball forward in a bid to start attacks.

Must improve

Matias Vecino struggled to influence Uruguay’s first two matches against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, when his passing was too safe and pedestrian. The Inter midfielder improved when moved into his favoured box-to-box role in the victory over Russia, but Uruguay can’t afford for him to produce another poor performance in the knockout phase.


Goncalo Guedes

Star man

Cristiano Ronaldo delivered the outstanding individual performance of the tournament so far with his hat-trick against Spain, when his contributions in general play were almost as notable as his goals. The Real Madrid superstar then netted a headed winner against Morocco to underline his importance to the Portuguese cause.

Must improve

Gonçalo Guedes failed to impress in his two starts against Spain and Morocco, so much so that he was dropped for the 1-1 draw with Iran. The 21-year-old is likely to return for Saturday’s clash with Uruguay, but he will have to be more clinical in front of goal and improve his decision-making on the counter-attack.



Star man

Isco has added a different dimension to this Spain side in his first major tournament, with his ability to drift by defenders in one-on-one situations frequently quickening the tempo of La Roja’s play. The Real Madrid schemer has been a delight to watch up to now.

Must improve

Gerard Pique looked vulnerable throughout the 3-3 draw against Portugal, and it was his foul which allowed Ronaldo to equalise with that brilliant free-kick late on. The Barcelona defender could easily have been sent off for a two-footed lunge against Morocco and will have to refocus ahead of the last 16.


Igor Akinfeev

Star man

Aleksandr Golovin ran the show in Russia’s 5-0 thrashing of Uruguay in the World Cup curtain-raiser, pulling the strings in a No.10 role to set the hosts on their way. His creativity was again key in the 3-1 defeat of Egypt, and Russia missed his influence when he was rested for the loss to Uruguay.

Must improve

Igor Akinfeev didn’t make a single save against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, such was the lack of threat posed by Russia’s first two opponents. The CSKA Moscow shot-stopper didn’t cover himself in glory against Uruguay, though, and his slow reactions are a warning for the knockout phase.


Luka Modric

Star man

Luka Modric’s diminished popularity back home hasn’t stopped him turning on the style in Russia. The midfield metronome scored a superb goal to cap a tremendous all-round display against Argentina, while he was also excellent in the victories over Nigeria (where he converted a penalty) and Iceland.

Must improve

Mario Mandzukic has yet to find the net at this World Cup, which will be a concern for manager Zlatko Dalic. The Juventus striker missed an excellent chance against Argentina and generally looked off the pace, but he could be fresher in the last 16 after being rested in the 2-1 triumph over Iceland.


Kasper Schmeichel

Star man

Kasper Schmeichel delivered one of the best goalkeeping displays of the competition so far against Peru, when he made several excellent stops to keep Los Incas at bay. The Leicester glovesman was unable to stop Mile Jedinak’s penalty against Australia, but he’s yet to concede from open play in Russia.

Must improve

Left-back Jens Stryger Larsen has looked vulnerable to pace in the last couple of weeks: Peru winger Andre Carillo and buccaneering right-back Luis Advincula caused him problems in Denmark’s opening match, as did Australia’s Matt Leckie in the two sides’ 1-1 draw.



Star man

Tite’s decision to redeploy Philippe Coutinho in a central role paid dividends in the group stage, with the Barcelona man scoring two goals and creating another. Coutinho brings creativity to the Seleção midfield and has suddenly become one of his country’s most important players.

Must improve

Willian hasn’t been at his best thus far, even allowing for the fact he’s had to perform a selfless role by providing width on the right flank while attacks are funnelled down Neymar’s side on the left. Despite his diligent defensive work, the Chelsea forward hasn’t offered much in the final third.


Hirving Lozano

Star man

Hirving Lozano scored one of El Tri’s most memorable World Cup goals with the winner against holders Germany in their opening game. He then turned provider in the victory over South Korea by setting up Javier Hernandez’s 50th Mexico goal, and has impressed throughout with his speed and dribbling.

Must improve

Edson Alvarez was poor in the 3-0 defeat by Sweden, the 20-year-old right-back scoring an own goal and showing some suspect positioning throughout. The youngster has contributed to Mexico's cause going forward, but there have been signs of weakness when he’s been forced to defend.



Romelu Lukaku

Star man

Romelu Lukaku scored four goals in his two group stage appearances, three of which were lovely finishes. The striker’s touch and movement have also been sharp, with Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens completing a fearsome front three.

Must improve

It feels harsh to criticise Yannick Carrasco for his occasional struggles at left-wing-back; this, after all, is an attack-minded winger playing out of position. Carrasco has left space in behind him, though, and better teams could exploit that in the knockout rounds.


Eiji Kawashima

Star man

Takashi Inui has been Japan’s key creative spark on the left flank, drifting infield onto his favoured right foot to combine with team-mates and take shots at goal. The tricky attacker has one goal and an assist to his name so far.

Must improve

The 35-year-old goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima showed his age in the group stage. Notwithstanding a fine save to deny Poland’s Bartosz Bereszynski, the Metz man has looked shaky between the sticks and was at fault for two of the four goals that Japan conceded.


Andreas Granqvist

Star man

Andreas Granqvist is Sweden's country’s top scorer in Russia, having netted penalties against both South Korea and Mexico. The 33-year-old captain has led by example at the back, dominating opposition strikers in the air and even demonstrating a willingness to carry the ball forward to start the Scandinavians' transitions.

Must improve

Sweden’s strength lies in the collective, and it’s therefore difficult to pick a player who must improve, but Marcus Berg may have to be a little more clinical in the knockout stages. Despite some excellent hold-up play, he’s yet to find the net at the World Cup.


Haris Seferovic

Star man

Manuel Akanji has barely put a foot wrong at the World Cup so far. The Borussia Dortmund centre-back is a fine reader of the game who’s rarely caught out positionally, and his composure on the ball is another asset for this Switzerland side. 

Must improve

It’s not clear whether Haris Seferovic was rested or dropped for Switzerland’s 2-2 draw with Costa Rica on Wednesday, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was the latter. The Benfica striker rarely looks assured in front of goal and should have done better with his finishing against both Brazil and Serbia.


Juan Fernando Quintero

Star man

Juan Quintero has endured a tough few years since the last World Cup, but he’s been back to his best in Russia so far. A delightful player to watch, the left-footed playmaker scored a brilliant free-kick against Japan and produced a magnificent through-ball to set up Radamel Falcao in the 3-0 victory over Poland.

SEE ALSO How tragedy, reggaeton and rapping make Colombia's Juan Fernando Quintero the most unlikely star of World Cup 2018

Must improve

Yerry Mina may have scored twice in the group phase, but his defending left a lot to be desired. The Barcelona defender had to be bailed out by centre-half partner Davinson Sanchez on more than one occasion, and Jose Pekerman will need him to up his game in the knockout stage.


Jesse Lingard Panama



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Star man

Harry Kane may be the World Cup’s top scorer, but Jesse Lingard has been England’s most impressive performer so far. His dynamic runs off the ball have been a key part of the team’s attacking strategy, while he also scored England’s best goal of the group stage.

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Must improve

Raheem Sterling’s finishing let him down in the 2-1 victory over Tunisia, although he was far from alone in that regard. The Manchester City man hasn’t played badly up to now, but it’s also fair to say he hasn’t yet transferred his scintillating club form to the international stage.

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