GK – Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark)
He lost a penalty shoot-out and yet fully deserves this. He made a wonderful save right at the end to keep the scores level and in total saved 3 out of 6 penalties. Croatia also had a total of 6 shots on target so don’t underestimate his performance during the match. Special mention should also go to Russia’s Igor Akinfeev.
CB – Davinson Sánchez (Colombia)
He’s only 22 you know. He was the only shining light in a pretty poor Colombian performance, were they were obsessed with trying to disrupt England rather than play their own game. He won 16 defensive aerials – 16!!! Has taken a while at Spurs to settle but it now looks like they have a gem.
CB – Andreas Granqvist (Sweden)
The 33-year-old is fast becoming one of the stand-out players at this year’s tournament. He’s been general of a defence which has looked incredibly well drilled and organised. They’ve only conceded 2 goals so far. England will struggle to break them down.
CB – Sergei Ignashevich (Russia)
Yes, I know about his rugby tackle on Ramos, but that aside, he was excellent. Russia changed it up in this game and went for 5 at the back with the clear intent to wait the game out and see. It worked as Spain were woefully ponderous. He’ll be glad he came out of retirement now.
DM – Paul Pogba (France)
Some of his passing was immense as he created opportunities for France’s glorious attack. The French midfield bullied Argentina and dominated the game. When France needed to up it, they found it easy to do so. More of this please.
RM – Kieran Trippier (England)
I’ve taken liberties with formation but I don’t care. Trippier is fast becoming the best right sided player at the tournament. 2 successful dribbles, 3 defensive aerials won and 8 successful tackles sum up a wonderful performance. Sure, he should have done better for the Colombian equaliser but he was fantastic throughout the game.
CM – Willian (Brazil)
Okay, so he plays out wide, but he could be an attacking midfielder! 😊 His dribbling was outstanding (7 successful) but he also won 2 headers and completed 2 tackles. He was the energy and drive for much of Brazil’s play. All tournament we have talked of Coutinho and Neymar, but this was Willian’s match to shine. Don’t forget his assist for Neymar either.
CM – Eden Hazard (Belgium)
It looked like a massive upset was on the cards. I had predicted Belgium to annihilate Japan. I was glad to be contradicted in a wonderful game, won with a wonderful counter-attack. Hazard was Belgium’s star man though. He provided the assist for the equaliser and completed 5 dribbles. If they’re to beat Brazil, they need him at his best.
LM – Kylian Mbappé (France)
At only 19-years-old he was simply magnificent. For so long the discussion in France is how to get the best out of both Pogba and Griezmann. It now looks like a silly argument – Mbappé is the star man. He really is the perfect antidote to today’s modern highline defence. Push up at your peril. With Pogba pumping balls forward, Mbappé is ready to run onto them…and he won’t miss. Poor Marcos Rojo.
CF – Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen much of him over the years. Everyone raves about him and the stats point to a wonderful player, but my viewing has been restricted to the Champions League where he has looked decent in flashes but nothing more. This was the performance I hadn’t seen. Good lord he was impressive. It’s hard to know whether the first goal went in off his face or his head, but simply to get on the end of the cross required remarkable athleticism. The finish for the second was poetry.
CF – Harry Kane (England)
Was it the two wonderful penalties? Was it his ability to hold up play and win frees? Perhaps it was how he adapted his game after receiving a knock? In truth it was all of the above, in a performance which screamed of leadership. He has now scored 4 penalties out of 4 and every time England win a corner, defenders seem to freak out and panic at the mere sight of him. Glorious.