First XI: Best Players from the World Cup Group Stage
First XI: Best Players from the World Cup Group Stage
Heading into the Round of 16, we take a look back at the top performers of the group stage in our Statistical Starting 11, taking shape in a 3 – 5-2, and allowing only players that have moved to the Round of 16 into the squad.
Goalkeeper — Guillermo Ochoa (MEX)
Ochoa may have seen three go past him against Sweden, but his numbers show that he is the glue that is holding the Mexican defence together.
The Mexican keeper made 19 saves in the group stage, 6 more than the next-best, Kasper Schmeichel.
Ochoa faced 23 shots through 3 games, 8 more than the second-best qualifying keeper, Yann Sommer for the Swiss.
Central Defence — Yerry Mina (COL)
Mina has played out of his mind for the Colombians. The 23-year old centre back won 50% of his duels through 2 games and made himself a nuisance in the opponent’s half, scoring 2 goals in 3 matches.
In the Poland game alone, the Barcelona defender made 7 successful interceptions, frustrated the Poland attack, and released the Colombian attack by completing 75% of his long passes.
His next task will be to mark the leading goal scorer of the tournament, Harry Kane, but his recent form must give Colombian fans hope to advance past the Round of 16.
Central Defence — Diego Godin (URU)
Godin has been compared to the likes of Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta throughout the group stage by pundits around the world.
Do the stats show that he’s been that good? After playing all 3 games and all 290 minutes of the group stage, Godin’s stats are masterclass.
He won 31 duels, 60% of his aerial duels, and completed 87.6% of his passes. These numbers certainly explain why this Uruguayan defender has been compared with the likes of the aforementioned Italian legends.
Central Defence — Andreas Christensen (DEN)
Christensen of Denmark has played distributor as well as defender through his 3 group stage matches, completing 95.2% of his passes and 66% of his long passes.
The young Chelsea centre back averaged 5.82 interceptions per match and won 60% of his duels against an extremely talented French side.
Christensen will look to register his first shot in the Round of 16, but with the Danish playing so well defensively and Kasper Schmeichel seemingly blanketing the goal, this up-and-coming defender’s main goal will be to keep a clean sheet in the next match against a very dangerous Croatia side.
Central Midfield — Luka Modric (CRO)
Modric has played in a commanding midfield for Croatia throughout the group stage, showing wonderful skill and leadership throughout the first three matches.
Our Sportscode head to head window below shows Modric outshined Lionel Messi in several on-ball categories, while also putting in a shift off the ball in the Croatians dominant 3 – 0 win over Argentina.
With the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic around him, many would expect the Real Madrid man to play well, but his stats show he’s played even better than expected.
From the midfield, Modric scored 2 goals through 3 matches, completed 90% of his passes, and made 12 vital interceptions in the middle of the park.
Losing the ball on average a measly 5.9% of the time, Croatians should feel more than confident heading into a crucial game against Denmark in the Round of 16.
Central Midfield — Sergio Busquets (ESP)
Despite Spain not being the dominant side of past years, Sergio Busquets is again a fixture in the World Cup.
The veteran midfield commander compiled an impressive 92.8% pass completion rate, spraying long balls at a 53.8% completion rate, and won 14.2% of duels through 3 games.
The Barcelona man also provided a key and skillful assist in Spain’s opening draw with Portugal, heading the ball to the front of the net off a set piece to Diego Costa to nod home.
The Spaniards will hope that the veteran can withstand these minutes going into the Round of 16, as Busquets has played every minute for Spain thus far.
Winger — Hirving Lozano (MEX)
Lozano kicked off the World Cup with a moment he won’t soon forget, scoring the winning goal in a 1 – 0 victory against Germany, the defending champions. His fine form never dimmed from there.
The explosive play of the Mexican counter attack was led by Lozano throughout 2 of the matches, as he provided an assist in the second match against South Korea.
He also averaged 3.07 shots on target and completed 10 out of 10 dribbles against Sweden.
The promising Mexican squad will look to build off of the recent success of Lozano and attempt to dismiss their glaring loss to Sweden in their Round of 16 match against Brazil.
Winger — Juan Fernando Quintero (COL)
Quintero has somewhat flown under the radar, but the Colombian winger displayed excellent vision and distribution through the group stage.
Through 3 matches, Quintero delivered 5.04 through balls per 90 minutes which led to 2 assists.
With the blistering pace provided by Juan Cuadrado and the shiftiness of James Rodriguez, Quintero and Colombia will be a tough test for the English defence in the Round of 16.
Forward — Neymar (BRA)
Neymar’s critics were loud throughout the group stage, but before the pundits continue their shouts, maybe they should take a look at the star Brazilian’s stats through 3 games.
The PSG man averaged 98 minutes played, set up 1 goal, and put away 1 of his own. He played 14 key passes, led the 32-team field in deep ball completions with 15, and provided consistent pressure on opponent keepers as he averaged 4.93 shots a match with more than 50% on target.
Brazil will look to capitalize off Neymar’s fine form in the Round of 16 match against Mexico.
Striker — Harry Kane (ENG)
Kane enters the Round of 16 as the Golden Boot leader with five goals thus far, one ahead of Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Harry Kane scores; it’s just what he does. The England striker benefited from fine through balls by Kieran Trippier, a player that completed an astounding 75% of his through balls in the group stage.
When facing Colombia, Kane will face a defender he knows all too well in Davinson Sanchez, but will that be enough to keep Kane from adding to his tally?
Although Kane sits outside the top 20 in shots out of all players in the group stage, there’s a good chance he puts one in the back of the net in the Round of 16 against Colombia.
Striker — Romelu Lukaku (BEL)
Lukaku played only 2 out of the 3 group stage games which only makes his case for this team stronger.
Slotting home 4 goals in those 2 games with an accuracy of 83.7% of his shots on target should make the Belgians feel like they could go all the way.
Averaging only 2.83 shots a game, Belgium must feel like if they get the ball to this forward’s feet, fans are certain to see it ripple the back of the net.