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World Cup 2018: Best XI From The Second Round Of Group Matches

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, RUSSIA - JUNE 24: Harry Kane of England celebrates after scoring his team's fifth goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Panama at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 24, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photo by Maja Hitij - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

At this point, a handful of players have started singling themselves out as potential stars of this World Cup.

Interestingly, many of the high profile players that were slated to take the tournament by storm, while (as usual) a crop of previously unheralded or even relatively unknown quantities have been making names for themselves and driving their national sides on through the groups.

But who were the standout performers from the second wave of World Cup group matches?

 

Goalkeeper:

Robin Olsen (Sweden). Was unlucky to be beaten by that impressive Toni Kroos at the end of Sweden’s defeat to Germany, particularly as it was the last act of what had been a terrific performance. The FC Copenhagen keeper had stood firm in the face of increasingly strong German attacks and will definitely have turned a few heads with his overall display.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 23: Robin Olsen of Sweden celebrates after Ola Toivonen of Sweden scored a goal to make it 0-1 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Sweden at Fisht Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

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Defenders:

John Stones (England). Two goals for the Manchester City defender in what has been a good tournament so far in the centre of the back three. Stones wasn’t required to make a tackle or block a shot against Panama but was on hand to make five clearances.

Dejan Lovren (Croatia). In the absence of Vedran Corluka, Lovren has really stepped up. Last week’s match brought out five clearances, two blocked shots, one very quiet Argentine attack and a commanding performance from the Liverpool centre-back.

Kenneth Omeruo (Nigeria). The Chelsea defender put in a thoroughly convincing performance against Iceland last week, completing a very impressive seven clearances and three interceptions as nothing could penetrate the Nigerian defence. His next job will be to keep Messi and Aguero quiet, but he will be confident.

VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 22: Kenneth Omeruo of Nigeria during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Iceland at Volgograd Arena on June 22, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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Midfielders:

Eden Hazard (Belgium). Two goals against Panama in what was a lively performance from the Chelsea man. The ball appeared stuck to his feet at times as he embarked on more dribbles than any other player, and while he didn’t see as much of the ball as the midfielders, Hazard was deadly when it did arrive to him.

James Rodriguez (Colombia). Against Poland, James gave Colombia exactly what they were missing against Japan. The Bayern playmaker provided assists for two of the three goals, but he was dangerous throughout with his ball retention, dribbling, passing, and chance creation. He could yet play a huge role in this tournament.

Luka Modric (Croatia). The heartbeat of this Croatia side in what was a comprehensive win against Argentina. Topped the performance off with a brilliant goal, but was at the forefront of the overall team display in what was a more advanced position for the Real Madrid man.

Ivan Rakitic (Croatia). Almost level with Modric in terms of performance against Argentina (with Marcelo Brozovic not far behind), Rakitic had more dribbles and shots than any other Croatian player and was full value for his late goal.

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, RUSSIA - JUNE 21: Ivan Rakitic of Croatia celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 21, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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Forwards:

Ahmed Musa (Nigeria). A thorn in Iceland’s side during their clash last week, and the driving force behind the Super Eagles’ 2-0 victory. The Leicester forward scored both goals in the victory, and will be relishing a crack at Argentina’s shaky defence on Tuesday.

Harry Kane (England). A hat-trick against Panama to take the outright lead in the Golden Boot race (with five). Kane is the one world-class player that this England side possesses, and will be the primary reason for the side’s success in the knockout stages.

Romelu Lukaku (Belgium). A brace against Tunisia to add to his brace against Panama. With so many sides lacking a great finisher (Morocco, Peru etc), the presence of such a clinical striker is making a huge difference to Belgium. Lukaku is one of the deadliest in the game, and the perfect focal point for a creative genius like Kevin De Bruyne.

Author: The PA Team

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