World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players in Russia After Every Team's Second Game
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.
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)
|1||Keylor Navas (+5)||Costa Rica|
|2||Hannes Halldorsson (-1)||Iceland|
|3||David Ospina (New!)||Colombia|
|4||Kasper Schmeichel (-2)||Denmark|
|5||Jo Hyeon-woo (-1)||South Korea|
|6||Guillermo Ochoa (-1)||Mexico|
|7||Robin Olsen (New!)||Sweden|
|8||Mohamed El-Shenawy (-5)||Egypt|
|9||Monir El Kajoui (-1)||Morocco|
|10||Alireza Beiranvand (-1)||Iran|
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)
|1||Mario Fernandes (+1)||Russia|
|2||Kieran Trippier (+2)||England|
|3||Moussa Wague (New!)||Senegal|
|4||Thomas Meunier (New!)||Belgium|
|5||Luis Advincula (-2)||Peru|
|6||Sime Vrsaljko (New!)||Croatia|
|7||Cristian Gamboa (New!)||Costa Rica|
|8||Henrik Dalsgaard (New!)||Denmark|
|9||Nacho Fernandez (-4)||Spain|
|10||Edson Alvarez (New!)||Mexico|
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)
|1||Jesus Gallardo (+1)||Mexico|
|2||Aleksandar Kolarov (-1)||Serbia|
|3||Ehsan Haji Safi (+3)||Iran|
|4||Aziz Behich (-1)||Australia|
|5||Yuri Zhirkov (-1)||Russia|
|6||Yuto Nagatomo (-1)||Japan|
|7||Youssouf Sabaly (New!)||Senegal|
|9||Martin Caceres (+1)||Uruguay|
|10||Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (-3)||Egypt|
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)
|1||Diego Godin (+1)||Uruguay|
|2||Andreas Granqvist (-1)||Sweden|
|3||John Stones (New!)||England|
|4||Jose Gimenez (-1)||Uruguay|
|5||Morteza Pouraliganji (+4)||Iran|
|6||Manuel Akanji (+1)||Switzerland|
|7||Carlos Salcedo (New!)||Mexico|
|8||Nikola Milenkovic (-2)||Serbia|
|9||Trent Sainsbury (-5)||Australia|
|10||Simon Kjaer (+1)||Denmark|
|11||Andreas Christensen (+4)||Denmark|
|12||Jan Vertonghen (+1)||Belgium|
|14||Mark Milligan (-4)||Australia|
|15||Toby Alderweireld (New!)||Belgium|
|16||Domagoj Vida (New!)||Croatia|
|17||Kenneth Omeruo (New!)||Nigeria|
|18||Dusko Tosic (-4)||Serbia|
|19||Yerry Mina (New!)||Colombia|
|20||Sergio Ramos (New!)||Spain|
Defensive Midfielders/Central Midfielders
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)
|1||Luka Modric (+12)||Croatia|
|2||N'Golo Kante (+7)||France|
|3||Valon Behrami (+1)||Switzerland|
|4||Paul Pogba (+6)||France|
|5||Roman Zobnin (-2)||Russia|
|6||Hector Herrera (-5)||Mexico|
|7||Omid Ebrahimi (+1)||Iran|
|9||Kevin De Bruyne (+3)||Belgium|
|10||Andres Iniesta (-5)||Spain|
|11||David Silva (New!)||Spain|
|12||Aaron Mooy (-10)||Australia|
|13||Jordan Henderson (+2)||England|
|14||Ivan Rakitic (New!)||Croatia|
|15||Philippe Coutinho (New!)||Brazil|
|16||Sergio Busquets (-10)||Spain|
|17||Jesse Lingard (New!)||England|
|18||Saeid Ezatolahi (New!)||Iran|
|19||Nemanja Matic (-8)||Serbia|
|20||Gaku Shibasaki (New!)||Japan|
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)
|2||Denis Cheryshev (Stay)||Russia|
|3||Eden Hazard (+5)||Belgium|
|4||Aleksandr Golovin (-3)||Russia|
|5||Hirving Lozano (Stay)||Mexico|
|6||Carlos Vela (+3)||Mexico|
|7||Nordin Amrabat (New!)||Morocco|
|8||Juan Quintero (New!)||Colombia|
|9||Takashi Inui (+9)||Japan|
|10||Xherdan Shaqiri (New!)||Switzerland|
|11||Ante Rebic (New!)||Croatia|
|12||Kylian Mbappe (+8)||France|
|13||Dries Mertens (-3)||Belgium|
|14||James Rodriguez (New!)||Colombia|
|15||Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (-8)||Serbia|
|16||Hakim Ziyech (New!)||Morocco|
|17||Christian Eriksen (-5)||Denmark|
|18||Marco Reus (New!)||Germany|
|19||Younes Belhanda (New!)||Morocco|
|20||Dusan Tadic (New!)||Serbia|
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)
|1||Cristiano Ronaldo (Stay)||Portugal|
|2||Harry Kane (+1)||England|
|3||Romelu Lukaku (+1)||Belgium|
|4||Diego Costa (-2)||Spain|
|5||Artem Dzyuba (New!)||Russia|
|6||M'Baye Niang (New!)||Senegal|
|7||Javier Hernandez (+1)||Mexico|
|8||Aleksandar Mitrovic (New!)||Serbia|
|9||Ahmed Musa (New!)||Nigeria|
|10||Edinson Cavani (-4)||Uruguay|