World Cup flops: The most disappointing XI from Russia 2018
GK: David de Gea (Spain)
Premier League fans have grown so accustomed to De Gea’s consistent brilliance that it came as a shock when his error allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to score the second of his three goals in Spain’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Portugal, as a shot directly at him squirmed through his hands.
That was, in fairness, the only major mistake the goalkeeper made, with De Gea a spectator for long periods of La Roja’s matches against Iran, Morocco and Russia. The Manchester United man wasn’t at his best, however, and he was also criticised by sections of the Spanish press for failing to save any of the four penalties he faced in the last-16 shoot-out with the hosts.
RB: Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
A harsh inclusion perhaps, but at the very least Kimmich failed to further enhance his lofty reputation in Russia. The right-back was continually caught too high up the pitch in the 1-0 loss to Mexico which set the tone for Germany’s tournament, with Hirving Lozano repeatedly taking advantage of the space he left behind.
Kimmich may have improved against Sweden and South Korea, but his contributions in both attack and defence were below the level we’re used to.
CB: Gerard Pique (Spain)
The headlines after Portugal and Spain’s 3-3 draw rightly belonged to Cristiano Ronaldo after his hat-trick and superb all-round display, but another conclusion drawn from that match was that Pique looked defensively suspect.
The Barcelona defender steadied himself in the 1-0 victory over Iran, but was then fortunate to avoid a red card after a mindless lunging tackle against Morocco. In the round of 16 loss to Russia, meanwhile, it was Pique who gave away the penalty with an inexplicable handball.
CB: Jerome Boateng (Germany)
Boateng and defensive partner Mats Hummels came in for heavy criticism after the 1-0 reverse to Mexico, but the fault largely lay elsewhere as Germany’s centre-backs were left exposed time and time again.
Boateng had no such excuses against Sweden, though, with the Bayern Munich man turning in a dismal display which culminated in a deserved red card in the second half after a reckless lunge on Marcus Berg. Positionally poor and sloppy in possession, he could easily have given away an early penalty for a foul on Berg.
LB: Raphael Guerreiro (Portugal)
Guerreiro was one of the stars of Portugal’s unlikely triumph at Euro 2016, but he struggled to reproduce his form of two years ago this summer. The left-back misfired against both Spain and, more surprisingly, Morocco, when Nordin Amrabat continually got the better of him in Portugal’s narrow 1-0 win.
He also didn’t cover himself in glory in the last-16 loss to Uruguay, switching off at the back post to allow Edinson Cavani to latch onto Luis Suarez’s cross and open the scoring.