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

Isco Spain World Cup

One shining star and another who must do better from every nation in the last 16, brought to you by Greg Lea 

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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.