Best 11 from the first round of World Cup games

The World Cup is well underway, with the first round of group fixtures completed. It has been an entertaining start to the tournament too, with a total of 38 goals scored in the 16 games. This article takes a look at the stand out players in each position of the first round of Russia 2018 group fixtures.


GK: Hannes Halldórsson (Iceland)

Any goalkeeper that keeps out Lionel Messi is well worth a mention. Halldórsson marshalled his defence to a surprise 1-1 draw with Argentina, and to top it off, saved a penalty from Messi. If Iceland are to emulate their Quarter Final appearance of Euro 2016, the 34 year-old will need to be in top form.

RB: Henrik Dalsgaard (Denmark)

Henrik Dalsgaard was a key part of a Denmark defence that kept a lively Peru out to secure a 1-0 win in their first group game. The Brentford defender carried out his defensive duties professionally, as well as providing an outlet going forward for the Danes. Dalsgaard and the rest of the Denmark back four will be eyeing up a further clean sheet as they face Australia on Thursday.

CB: José Giménez (Uruguay)

José Giménez was a key part in the narrow 1-0 win for Uruguay over Egypt. As well as restricting an Egypt side without Mo Salah to limited chances on goal, Giménez netted an 89th minute winner for his country. The 23 year-old Atletico Madrid player rose above everyone in the box to powerfully head in a Carlos Sanchez free-kick.

CB: Andreas Granqvist (Sweden)

There was a sense of shock when Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist stepped out to take the penalty to put Sweden ahead against South Korea. However, the 33 year-old calmly slotted the penalty away, a goal which turned out to be the winner for Sweden. In truth, Granqvist and his fellow Sweden defenders did were not tested too much against South Korea, but nonetheless, they did not give South Korea’s attack anything to work with.

LB: Youssouf Sabaly (Senegal)

Youssouf Sabaly really injected pace and excitement into an otherwise drab first half of Senegal’s opening game against Poland. The Bourdeaux player, who is usually a right-back, really expressed himself, with regular surges forward. In the second half, Salaby was required to do more defensive work, and carried this out very well.

RM: Isco (Spain)

If Spain are to reach the latter stages of this World Cup, it may be largely down to Isco. The 26 year-old was very impressive in Spain’s 3-3 draw with Portugal, in the way he linked up with Iniesta and David Silva, as well as showcasing his superb dribbling ability. If the Real Madrid attacker carries on his form for the remainder of Spain’s campaign, it would not be a surprise for him to be crowned player of the tournament.

CM: Jordan Henderson (England)

Jordan Henderson is often made a scapegoat when England perform badly, but on Monday, he was a key part of an English side that recorded a 2-1 win against Tunisia. The 28 year-old was superb with his forward passing, as well as his ability to break up any Tunisia counter attack. The positive results of playing regular Champions League football with Liverpool are clear to see.

CM: Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

There may be a few of Europe’s giants taking a look at Aleksandr Golovin following his performance against Saudi Arabia. Golovin provided two assists for his teammates, as well as getting a goal himself, in Russia’s 5-0 demolition of a hapless Saudi side. How the host nation fare in the knockout stages may be down to how Golovin performs against better opponents.

LM: Hirving Lozano (Mexico)

On the back of a superb season as PSV’s top goalscorer, big things were expected from Hirving Lozano. In Mexico’s first game, the pacy winger really lived up to these expectations. He was a constant threat to Germany, and netted the winner for Mexico in what was an historic victory. Lozano will hope he can carry on his form in Mexico’s remaining group games against South Korea and Sweden.

ST: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

With the likelihood being that this will be Ronaldo’s last World Cup, it is evident that the five times Ballon D’Or winner is keen to make a mark in Russia. He did exactly that too, netting a hat-trick in Portugal’s opener against Spain. The pick of his goals was a stunning free-kick in the dying seconds of the game, securing a point for his country.

ST: Diego Costa (Spain)

Although Cristiano Ronaldo took the headlines in Spain’s 3-3 draw with Portugal, Diego Costa was equally as effective for Spain. The 29 year-old superbly took on the whole of the Portugal defence to make the game 1-1, and netted his second goal from a clever set piece routine from the 2010 World Cup winners. Costa will be eyeing up further goals in Spain’s next game against Morocco.

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