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. 

Guillermo Ochoa's shot chart vs Germany where he dealt with 10 on-target efforts and emerged with a clean sheet.

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.

Our Sportscode head to head output window shows Luka Modric was instrumental in Croatia's 3-0 victory over Argentina.

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.

Busquets was at his imperious best against Portugal, spraying 66 passes across the pitch at a 93.9% accuracy rate.

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)

Ney­mars 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.

Neymar was successful with 15 of his 19 dribbles against Serbia. He will look to dominate the ball for Brazil in the knockout rounds.

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.

Our Statistical First XI from the Group Stage

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