Disappointing World Cup players
The 2018 World Cup is into its second week, with every team having taken to the field at least once. It's generally been a good tournament so far, featuring a handful of excellent games and many more intriguing ones, but there have already been contrasting fortunes for the 32 nations taking part.
In this slideshow, we've picked out the 13 most disappointing players in Russia so far - including high-profile stars and international newbies...
13. Marwan Mohsen (Egypt)
Egypt have been hugely disappointing in their two matches to date, with defeats by Uruguay and Russia knocking them out with a match to spare. The shoulder injury nursed by Mohamed Salah has clearly been an issue, but the Pharaohs could still have shown more regardless of their star man’s fitness.
The likes of Ramadan Sobhi, Mahmoud Kahraba, Trezeguet and Mohsen failed to pick up any of the slack, with the Al-Ahly striker particularly poor in the opening two matches – admittedly not helped by Hector Cuper’s ultra-conservative style.
12. Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Uruguay)
With Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani ahead of him, and Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin keeping the back door shut behind him, Uruguayan playmaker De Arrascaeta was expected to shine in Group A.
While tidy enough in the hour of football he’s played at the World Cup, the Cruzeiro man has been disappointing – much like Uruguay as a team. The Celeste have already made it into the knockout stage of the competition but will need to improve massively if they’re to be a genuine threat in the latter stages – as will De Arrascaeta.
11. Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Coming into the tournament, Lewandowski was expected to be the difference for a Polish side who were top seeds in the draw for the group stage. But his impact was minimal, with one effort – a weak strike from a free-kick – the sum total of his display in the 2-1 loss to Senegal.
It was a poor return from arguably the world’s best pure No.9 of the last few years, and Poland will need much better from their talisman should they want to extend their stay in Russia beyond the first round.
10. Timo Werner (Germany)
Werner forced his way into the world champions’ starting XI after scoring three times in the Confederations Cup a year ago and three more in qualifying for the World Cup. Add to that 34 goals in 63 games for RB Leipzig over the last two seasons, and the Mannschaft would appear to have an ideal replacement for World Cup icon Miroslav Klose.
Given what was expected of Werner, his performance against Mexico was poor. Still, there’s plenty of time for him to show what he can really do.
9. David de Gea (Spain)
The De Gea of Manchester United is a world away from the De Gea of Spain, with his goalkeeping style seemingly much more suited to a more defence-minded team. While his status as one of the best in his position is without question, his performance against Portugal was a far cry from the match-winner we’ve seen season after season in the Premier League.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal was easily avoidable and turned the game back into Portugal’s favour at a crucial time. “I'll keep training and try to do things right. I haven't killed anyone,” he shrugged post-match.
8. Juan Antonio Pizzi (Saudi Arabia)
OK, not a player here, but coach Pizzi is the man who must take responsibility for Saudi Arabia’s poor showing in Russia. The former Chile boss tried to take the game to hosts Russia in the opening match, resulting in the Green Falcons – who were incredibly open defensively – getting hammered 5-0.
Their organisation at the back was also poor against Uruguay – and that’s on him. Saudi Arabia may have given a better account of themselves in the latter match, but the bottom line is they’re out after two games.
7. Sami Khedira (Germany)
Juventus midfielder Khedira lasted an hour before being replaced by Joachim Low in the opener against Mexico, but by then the damage had already been done. Hirving Lozano’s first-half goal proved to be enough for the Mexicans to take all three points against the World Cup holders, and Khedira struggled desperately in the heart of the midfield – Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado were superior in every way.
Not since 1962 and Pele’s Brazil have a team defended their World Cup title. If Germany are to do so they will have to improve dramatically and quickly – and Khedira must now fear for his place in the team.
6. William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)
Nigeria centre back Troost-Ekong stood out for the Super Eagles in their World Cup opener against Croatia – for all the wrong reasons. The Netherlands-born Bursaspor defender frequently gave the ball away, undoing much of the good work of Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo ahead of him.
With matches against Iceland and Argentina to come, Nigeria still have a chance of reaching the knockout stages but their hopes of making an impact at the tournament took a hit with the 2-0 defeat to Croatia – mostly because of the feeble manner of it.
5. Angel Di Maria (Argentina)
When Argentina struggle, it’s Lionel Messi who gets the majority of the criticism – something that persisted even when the Barcelona man was awarded the Player of the Tournament prize in Brazil four years ago.
Penalty aside, Messi actually played quite well against Iceland, but he wasn’t helped by PSG winger Angel Di Maria, whose place in the side must surely be under serious consideration by boss Jorge Sampaoli. The ex-Real Madrid man was ineffectual all game – and left on the bench for the Albiceleste’s crunch game against Croatia.
4. Christian Cueva (Peru)
Peru were eliminated after two games because despite looking bright, they didn't take their chances. This is not the fault of one man alone, but there are few clearer chances than an unopposed shot from the penalty spot. In first-half stoppage time against Denmark he blazed his spot-kick high over the bar; Peru went on to lose 1-0.
Cueva was notably quieter after the break, seemingly unable to recover from the psychological blow of missing from 12 yards. Against France he was brighter again, but again his final-third decision-making was often questionable – like Peru as a whole. Another 1-0 loss meant it was suitcase-packing time for a team who have been attractive but ineffective.
3. Aziz Bouhaddouz (Morocco)
With 13 minutes remaining in Morocco’s opening match against the weakest team in the group, boss Hervé Renard looked to St. Pauli striker Bouhaddouz to change the game in the Atlas Lions’ favour. What he wasn't anticipating was his substitute heading a 95th-minute free-kick beyond his own goalkeeper and handing all three points to Iran.
The striker wasn’t trusted off the bench in Morocco’s second game as they toiled against Portugal, drawing another blank and ensuring an early exit from Russia 2018 despite a decent performance against a strong side.
2. Nikola Kalinic (Croatia)
Croatian striker Kalinic makes the list without even kicking a ball, which really is going some. After he'd reportedly refused to come off the bench in the victory over Nigeria citing a back injury, Zlatko Dalic sent the striker home from the biggest show on earth.
“The same thing happened during the Brazil friendly in England, as well as before the practice session on Sunday,” Dalic reasoned. “I’ve calmly accepted that and since I need my players fit and ready to play.”
Kalinic probably wishes he’d grimaced through now – especially as his mates went on to hammer Argentina – but the 30-year-old may well have prematurely ended his international career after picking up just 41 caps and scoring 15 goals.
1. Carlos Sanchez (Colombia)
There really isn’t a great deal to say about Sanchez’s performance in Colombia’s opener against Japan. It lasted three minutes, led to the opening goal for Japan and put an end to Jose Pekerman’s tactical plan for the match – Juan Cuadrado was replaced on the half-hour mark as the Cafeteros looked to limit the damage.
Reflex reaction or not, Sanchez’s best Luis Suarez impression surely cost his country a result in their opening match against the weakest team in the group. It leaves Colombia in a difficult position with Senegal and Poland to come.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.