Ranked! The 13 most disappointing players of the 2018 World Cup so far
13. Marwan Mohsen
Egypt have been hugely disappointing in their two matches so far, with as many defeats eliminating them from the competition with a round of matches spare. The injury and fitness issues of talisman Mohamed Salah have clearly been an issue, but the Pharaohs are not a one-man team.
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. Still, his performances have been especially disappointing.
12. Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Uruguay)
Cruzeiro schemer De Arrascaeta’s form in the early weeks of the Brazilian season was immense, leading to the 22-year-old being linked with a move to Europe – namely, Monaco. With Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani ahead of him to create for, and as solid a base as this World Cup has in behind, it was thought De Arrascaeta could take the tournament by storm – particularly with Uruguay being drawn in the weakest group alongside Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
While tidy enough in the hour of football he’s played at the World Cup, he 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)
Bayern goal-getter Lewandowski is reportedly a target for Chelsea and Champions League winners Real Madrid this summer, and his performance in Poland’s opener against Senegal suggests his mind may be elsewhere.
Coming into the tournament, the free-scoring striker was expected to be the difference for a Polish side edging towards the older end of the scale. But his impact was minimal, with one effort – a weak strike from a free-kick – the sum total of his match.
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 group stage.
10. Timo Werner (Germany)
Germany won the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 without a first choice No.9 in the team, and a 36-year-old Miroslav Klose well on his way to international retirement.
Four years on, Werner has forced his way into the world champions’ starting XI, having scored 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 Germany have an ideal replacement for all-time World Cup marksman Klose.
But 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 defensively-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 upon 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 a manager of Russia 2018. Argentina-born former Spain striker Pizzi took over the head coach role at Saudi Arabia having failed to guide two-time reigning South American champions Chile to the World Cup.
But after been given a second chance to coach a team at the biggest tournament on the planet – and with a relatively kind group to try to negotiate – Pizzi tried to take the game to hosts Russia in the opening match, resulting in the Green Falcons getting hammered 5-0.
Defensively they were a shambles – and that’s on him. They were better in the second game against Uruguay, but lost 1-0 anyway and are out after two matches.
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 was already 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 at 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 – another negative result may see them go the way of previous champions and fall at the first hurdle.