It’s that time again when the ‘quadrennium’ rolls around, where all the nations from around the world compete every four years to determine who’s best at playing the lovely game called football. As the finals are upon us, I can’t imagine there being a better time to reflect upon the past month.
It’s been a weird World Cup, for sure. Some of the tournaments highest ranked teams were eliminated pretty early on, which left room for some underdogs to perform better than expected. And yes, we’ve had some players on both ends of that spectrum that have gone above and beyond their natural talents and have livened up the World Cup for us. Let’s take a look at some of these players.
It’s hard to get past the Real Madrid midfielder this World Cup. The only thing he’s done wrong is taking penalties, but apart from that he’s been playing his games at the highest level and he’s a big part of the reason why Croatia made it so far.
The Belgian has been the only one on his team (except for Courtois) to perform on his level each and to do so consistently every match. Sadly it wasn’t enough to get past France. He kinda fizzled and never kept trying.
I know what you’re thinking – he was eliminated very early on in the tournament. It’s hard to deny he made an impact though, scoring a hattrick against Spain (before we knew Spain was having a bad tournament) in his opening game. Every bit of danger Portugal created was made by this man.
Spain was a major letdown this tournament. Yes, their loss against Russia was subpar in every way. But the one good player on the pitch for Spain, was really good. Isco was beautiful to watch, created lots of chances and fought for every ball. Amazing player.
It doesn’t always have to be the striker that pulls his team through. With France’s defensive tactics being what they are, the defensive abilities of Varane have been needed more than once. He’s been defending so well, I’m sure Lloris didn’t even need to be there for some of the matches.
While he’s not the most team-oriented player, no one can complain if you’re scoring six goals for your team. He hasn’t really been able to make his mark in the knockout phases, but he’s been the best player for the English side so far.
When everyone was looking at Neymar and Neymar was falling down, Coutinho was scoring beautiful goals and creating all the chances. Considering how little Neymar did for his squad, I’m sure we can all agree that Coutinho was their best player this tournament.
It’s hard to be the best striker on a team when you’re playing next to Luis Suarez, but it wasn’t much of a problem for Cavani. Hardly a coincidence that Uruguay gets knocked out the one match that Cavani has to stay on the bench due to an injury.
While Belgium’s defense wasn’t up to par for most of the matches, their keeper was. This was the one man responsible for Brazil’s defeat, as he kept out pretty much every ball the Brazilians shot at him.
Perhaps one of the best and most surprising centre-backs this tournament. I’m pretty sure no one outside of Croatia knew who this guy was before the World Cup, but he’s certainly become a name to keep an eye on now! It’s hard to make a name for yourself in a team that hosts stars like Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, Kovacic, Mandzukic and Brosovic – but he did it.