World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players in Russia After Every Team's Second Game

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 25, 2018

World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players in Russia After Every Team's Second Game

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    Jam Media/Getty Images

    With the 2018 World Cup second round done and dusted, it's time to update our WC100: a ranking of the top-performing players in Russia, position by position.

    We've watched every game, rated every player and constructed a top 10 or 20 for each position and crowned the kings of each. It will update after every round of matches, so keep your eyes peeled for future editions.

    Please bear in mind that only performances at these World Cup finals are considered for these rankings. Reputations count for nothing. Play well in Russia and be rewarded; don't, and you won't find your name here.

    In terms of categorising player positions, we've introduced the following rule:

    • If a player has played multiple positions, he is placed in the one he's played the most minutes in (example: David Silva, Spain).
    • If he has played the exact same number of minutes in two separate positions, he is placed in the one he played in most recently (example: Carlos Salcedo, Mexico).

    You can view the first edition here.

Goalkeepers

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    GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images

    Costa Rica have not found the back of the net yet in this tournament, but their own one is being well-protected. Keylor Navas has been the best goalkeeper through two matches at this World Cup, making nine saves in total, several of them quite incredible.

    Jo Hyeon-woo has been similarly busy for South Korea, the team's leaky defence allowing him the chance to pull off a number of excellent saves, as was Robin Olsen of Sweden in the heart-wrenching loss to Germany.

    David Ospina saw off Round 2 for the goalkeepers in style, making crucial close-range stops to prevent Poland from mounting a comeback against Colombia.

    Biggest rise: Keylor Navas (+5)

    Biggest fall: Mohamed El-Shenawy (-5)

    Top 10 Goalkeepers
    RankPlayerNation
    1Keylor Navas (+5)Costa Rica
    2Hannes Halldorsson (-1)Iceland
    3David Ospina (New!)Colombia
    4Kasper Schmeichel (-2)Denmark
    5Jo Hyeon-woo (-1)South Korea
    6Guillermo Ochoa (-1)Mexico
    7Robin Olsen (New!)Sweden
    8Mohamed El-Shenawy (-5)Egypt
    9Monir El Kajoui (-1)Morocco
    10Alireza Beiranvand (-1)Iran

Right-Backs/Right Wing-Backs

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    KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

    We have a clear best right-back through two rounds: Mario Fernandes. His opponents haven't been of the highest calibre, but you can only play what's in front of you, and the Russian has destroyed the left flanks of both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

    Thomas Meunier jumps into the top 10 and nestles into fourth place after his rampant showing against Tunisia, defending solidly and producing a spectacular assist for Romelu Lukaku. Moussa Wague comes in just ahead, having played two fine games and scoring his first international goal.

    If Cristian Gamboa played his club football to the same level as he plays for Costa Rica, he might just be one of Europe's best.

    Biggest rise: Kieran Trippier (+2)

    Biggest fall: Nacho Fernandez (-4)

    Top 10 RBs/RWBs
    RankPlayerNation
    1Mario Fernandes (+1)Russia
    2Kieran Trippier (+2)England
    3Moussa Wague (New!)Senegal
    4Thomas Meunier (New!)Belgium
    5Luis Advincula (-2)Peru
    6Sime Vrsaljko (New!)Croatia
    7Cristian Gamboa (New!)Costa Rica
    8Henrik Dalsgaard (New!)Denmark
    9Nacho Fernandez (-4)Spain
    10Edson Alvarez (New!)Mexico

Left-Backs/Left Wing-Backs

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    JOE KLAMAR/Getty Images

    This World Cup is doing Jesus Gallardo's stock a world of good. Any clubs watching him will be disappointed he joined Monterrey as recently as May, but they'll be keeping tabs on him from here on.

    Iran's Ehsan Haji Safi has impressed throughout his team's two defensive slogs, while Aziz Behich has been a pleasant surprise for Australia, defending well and acting as a good out-ball to spark counter-attacks.

    There's a clear drop-off from the top seven to the bottom three; the standards here aren't quite as competitive as they are with the right-backs.

    Biggest rise: Ehsan Haji Safi (+3)

    Biggest fall: Mohamed Abdelshafy (-3)

       

    Top 10 LBs/LWBs
    RankPlayerNation
    1Jesus Gallardo (+1)Mexico
    2Aleksandar Kolarov (-1)Serbia
    3Ehsan Haji Safi (+3)Iran
    4Aziz Behich (-1)Australia
    5Yuri Zhirkov (-1)Russia
    6Yuto Nagatomo (-1)Japan
    7Youssouf Sabaly (New!)Senegal
    8Marcelo (New!)Brazil
    9Martin Caceres (+1)Uruguay
    10Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (-3)Egypt

Centre-Backs

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    JORGE GUERRERO/Getty Images

    We have a swap at the top as Diego Godin leapfrogs Andreas Granqvist. There wasn't much Granqvist did wrong—despite Sweden conceding twice to Germany, Granqvist was still very good—but Godin deserves recognition for being an instrumental part in two clean sheets.

    Carlos Salcedo transfers from the right-back section to here having played in the centre against South Korea—and playing well! He's one of eight new entries as this section shakes up hard.

    John Stones enters at No. 3 not just because of his headed brace against Panama, but also thanks to his calm passing and solid defending in both games so far.

    Australia's Trent Sainsbury and Mark Milligan drop, but it's more to do with others performing superbly than them slouching.

    Biggest rise: Multiple (+4)

    Biggest fall: Trent Sainsbury (-5)

    Top 20 CBs
    RankPlayerNation
    1Diego Godin (+1)Uruguay
    2Andreas Granqvist (-1)Sweden
    3John Stones (New!)England
    4Jose Gimenez (-1)Uruguay
    5Morteza Pouraliganji (+4)Iran
    6Manuel Akanji (+1)Switzerland
    7Carlos Salcedo (New!)Mexico
    8Nikola Milenkovic (-2)
    Serbia
    9Trent Sainsbury (-5)Australia
    10Simon Kjaer (+1)Denmark
    11Andreas Christensen (+4)Denmark
    12Jan Vertonghen (+1)Belgium
    13Miranda (New!)Brazil
    14Mark Milligan (-4)Australia
    15Toby Alderweireld (New!)Belgium
    16Domagoj Vida (New!)Croatia
    17Kenneth Omeruo (New!)Nigeria
    18Dusko Tosic (-4)Serbia
    19Yerry Mina (New!)Colombia
    20Sergio Ramos (New!)Spain

Defensive Midfielders/Central Midfielders

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    Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

    Strap in for this section.

    There are some seismic moves both up and down, but a big drop doesn't necessarily mean the player played poorly. It's just the nature of performance assessment over such a short sample size (two games); the swings can be pretty massive.

    Hector Herrera, Andres Iniesta, Aaron Mooy and Sergio Busquets all played varying degrees of well in Round 2 but drop at least five each. That's simply because players like N'Golo Kante (+7) and Luka Modric (+12) were amazing, forcing the others down the list.

    Biggest rise: Luka Modric (+12)

    Biggest fall: Aaron Mooy, Sergio Busquets (-10)

    Top 20 DMs/CMs
    RankPlayerNation
    1Luka Modric (+12)Croatia
    2N'Golo Kante (+7)France
    3Valon Behrami (+1)Switzerland
    4Paul Pogba (+6)France
    5Roman Zobnin (-2)Russia
    6Hector Herrera (-5)Mexico
    7Omid Ebrahimi (+1)Iran
    8Casemiro (New!)Brazil
    9Kevin De Bruyne (+3)Belgium
    10Andres Iniesta (-5)Spain
    11David Silva (New!)Spain
    12Aaron Mooy (-10)Australia
    13Jordan Henderson (+2)England
    14Ivan Rakitic (New!)Croatia
    15Philippe Coutinho (New!)Brazil
    16Sergio Busquets (-10)Spain
    17Jesse Lingard (New!)England
    18Saeid Ezatolahi (New!)Iran
    19Nemanja Matic (-8)Serbia
    20Gaku Shibasaki (New!)Japan

Attacking Midfielders/Wingers

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    TF-Images/Getty Images

    Like in the defensive midfield/central midfield section, there are some eye-popping moves here. Again, it's the natural shifting as performances in a small sample carry a heavy weighting.

    Isco's masterclass against Iran earns him top spot, unseating Aleksandr Golovin, and Eden Hazard's destruction of Tunisia puts him third.

    Kylian Mbappe and Takashi Inui are big risers, the former tearing through Peru from the flank, the latter scoring, assisting and hitting the bar against Senegal.

    Christian Eriksen scored but then lost his rhythm a little, meaning he slides, while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's sophomore showing at these finals was quite the step down from his debut.

    Biggest rise: Takashi Inui (+9)

    Biggest fall: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (-8)

    Top 20 AMs/Wingers
    RankPlayerNation
    1Isco (+3)Spain
    2Denis Cheryshev (Stay)Russia
    3Eden Hazard (+5)
    Belgium
    4Aleksandr Golovin (-3)Russia
    5Hirving Lozano (Stay)Mexico
    6Carlos Vela (+3)Mexico
    7Nordin Amrabat (New!)Morocco
    8Juan Quintero (New!)Colombia
    9Takashi Inui (+9)Japan
    10Xherdan Shaqiri (New!)Switzerland
    11Ante Rebic (New!)Croatia
    12Kylian Mbappe (+8)France
    13Dries Mertens (-3)Belgium
    14James Rodriguez (New!)Colombia
    15Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (-8)
    Serbia
    16Hakim Ziyech (New!)Morocco
    17Christian Eriksen (-5)
    Denmark
    18Marco Reus (New!)Germany
    19Younes Belhanda (New!)Morocco
    20Dusan Tadic (New!)Serbia

Strikers

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    MARTIN BERNETTI/Getty Images

    Harry Kane is the leading scorer at this World Cup through two matches. He's netted five, with three of those coming on Sunday against Panama. Still, it's not enough to steal top spot off Cristiano Ronaldo, as the incredible nature of the Portuguese's performance against Spain still counts for plenty.

    Four new faces enter the top 10, all having played well in both games so far. Artem Dzyuba has won Russia's No. 9 role by sheer force, M'Baye Niang has been a serious handful for Senegal, the same can be said of Aleksandar Mitrovic for Serbia, and Ahmed Musa's two beautiful goals secured Nigeria a crucial win.

    Edinson Cavani's the only striker in the top 10 who hasn't scored yet, but his all-round contributions have been very strong (particularly in their opener).

    Biggest rise: Multiple (+1)

    Biggest fall: Edinson Cavani (-4)

            

    Top 10 Strikers
    RankPlayerNation
    1Cristiano Ronaldo (Stay)Portugal
    2Harry Kane (+1)England
    3Romelu Lukaku (+1)Belgium
    4Diego Costa (-2)Spain
    5Artem Dzyuba (New!)Russia
    6M'Baye Niang (New!)Senegal
    7Javier Hernandez (+1)Mexico
    8Aleksandar Mitrovic (New!)Serbia
    9Ahmed Musa (New!)Nigeria
    10Edinson Cavani (-4)Uruguay

                 

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