World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players in Russia After the Round of 16

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJuly 4, 2018

World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players in Russia After the Round of 16

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    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    The 2018 World Cup knockout stage has begun, and the round of 16 played out over the last four days. That means it's time to update our World Cup 100—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 be updated 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 were 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 same number of minutes in two separate positions, he is placed in the one he played in most recently.

    Because of managers rotating options throughout the tournament and teams dropping out, we're also in a position in which some players have played one more match than others. In such instances, those who have kept consistently higher performances over a larger number of games were rewarded with a higher rank.

    You can view the third edition here.


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    MB Media/Getty Images

    For 50 minutes on Monday, it looked quite a lot like Guillermo Ochoa was set to repeat his heroics of 2014, when he kept Brazil at bay in the group stage with a stunning display. But finally, after huffing and puffing, Brazil blew his door down in the 51st minute, when Neymar converted Willian's scuffed cross-shot.

    Don't let that, or the 88th-minute strike by Roberto Firmino, detract from what was a stellar showing by the Mexican shot-stopper.

    He can consider himself unfortunate not to rank No. 1, but Kasper Schmeichel saved three penalties against Croatia—one in extra time and two in the shootout—and deserved to pip him.

    Biggest rise: Guillermo Ochoa (+7)

    Biggest fall: David Ospina (-5)


    Top 10 Goalkeepers
    1Kasper Schmeichel (+5)Denmark
    2Guillermo Ochoa (+7)Mexico
    3Jo Hyeon-woo (-2)South Korea
    4Alireza Beiranvand (-2)Iran
    5Yann Sommer (-2)Switzerland
    6Keylor Navas (-1)Costa Rica
    7Robin Olsen (+1)Sweden
    8 Danijel Subasic (New!)Croatia
    9David Ospina (-5)Colombia
    10Hannes Halldorsson (-3)Iceland

Right-Backs/Right Wing-Backs

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    Mario Fernandes' spectacular World Cup continued with a spectacular performance against Spain. Not only was he remarkably solid against La Roja's prime danger men, but he also impacted Russia offensively, hauling his side up the pitch, carrying the ball forward and winning set pieces.

    Martin Caceres looks far more comfortable on the right than the left for Uruguay, and now that he's on his strong side, he can push on and interact with his forwards as well as defend stoutly.

    It takes a good full-back performance to largely stymie the combination of Carlos Vela and Hirving Lozano, and Brazil's Fagner somehow managed it. Adopting a "bend but don't break" philosophy, he looked to be losing his battle at times but rarely allowed a shot on goal or crossing opportunity.

    Biggest rise: Martin Caceres (New!)

    Biggest fall: Henrik Dalsgaard (-6)


    Top 10 Right-Backs/Right Wing-Backs
    1Mario Fernandes (Stay)Russia
    2Kieran Trippier (+3)England
    3Thomas Meunier (+3)Belgium
    4Martin Caceres (New!)Uruguay
    5Ramin Rezaeian (-2)Iran
    6Luis Advincula (-2)Peru
    7Sime Vrsaljko (+1)Croatia
    8Henrik Dalsgaard (-6)Denmark
    9Benjamin Pavard (New!)France
    10 Fagner (New!)Brazil

Left-Backs/Left Wing-Backs

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    Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

    Diego Laxalt leaps into the left-back rankings and into second despite only playing two full games. If you're perplexed by that—some others have played double the minutes—take it as a marker of just how brilliant he's been in his 211 minutes on the pitch.

    The summit is occupied by Ludwig Augustinsson, who has been incredibly steady all tournament and maintained defensive consistency—something few can claim to have done.

    Lucas Hernandez put in an excellent showing against Argentina in the round of 16, racing up and down the flank with purpose, dealing with Cristian Pavon well and troubling La Albiceleste with his crossing.

    Biggest rise: Diego Laxalt (New!)

    Biggest fall: Ehsan Hajsafi (-5)


    Top 10 Left-Backs/Left Wing-Backs
    1Ludwig Augustinsson (+1)Sweden
    2Diego Laxalt (New!)Uruguay
    3Yuto Nagatomo (+3)Japan
    4Yuri Zhirkov (+1)Russia
    5Youssouf Sabaly (-4)Senegal
    6Jesus Gallardo (-2)Mexico
    7Lucas Hernandez (New!)France
    8Ehsan Hajsafi (-5)Iran
    9Aleksandar Kolarov (-2)Serbia
    10Aziz Behich (-2)Australia


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    BENJAMIN CREMEL/Getty Images

    For the first time in these World Cup 100 editions, Diego Godin and Andreas Granqvist didn't trade places in first and second, the latter holding on to his perch following a predictably solid outing against Switzerland.

    By contrast, Godin was largely good against Portugal but was marking Pepe when the centre-back headed home in the second half.

    Thiago Silva's tournament so far has been close to perfect, the Brazilian once again impressing as the Selecao made it three straight clean sheets. His partner, Miranda, has been rock-solid too.

    Yerry Mina scored three (!) goals in three games from centre-back, a ridiculous haul, but his defending fluctuated; at times it was tremendous, and at times it was quite poor.

    Biggest rise: Yerry Mina (+11)

    Biggest fall: Morteza Pouraliganji (-7)

    Top 20 Centre-Backs
    1Andreas Granqvist (Stay)Sweden
    2Diego Godin (Stay)Uruguay
    3John Stones (Stay)England
    4Jose Gimenez (+1)Uruguay
    5Yerry Mina (+11)Colombia
    6Thiago Silva (+1)Brazil
    7Manuel Akanji (-1)Switzerland
    8Miranda (+1)Brazil
    9Simon Kjaer (+1)Denmark
    10Harry Maguire (New!)England
    11Morteza Pouraliganji (-7)Iran
    12Nikola Milenkovic (-4)Serbia
    13Jan Vertonghen (-1)Belgium
    14Carlos Salcedo (+4)Mexico
    15Kim Young-gwon (-4)South Korea
    16Toby Alderweireld (-1)Belgium
    17Victor Lindelof (New!)
    18Majid Hosseini (-5)Iran
    19Ilya Kutepov (New!)Russia
    20Andreas Christensen (-6)Denmark

Defensive Midfielders/Central Midfielders

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    Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

    Luka Modric's performance against Denmark was punctuated by two moments—one glorious, one awful. As the game crept toward penalties, he released Ante Rebic one-on-one with a perfect through ball, but when he was brought down and a penalty was awarded, Modric stepped up and had his effort saved.

    That levelled Modric's rating, paving the way for N'Golo Kante—who was once again stellar for France—to take top spot. Paul Pogba's part in that midfield deserves a lot of praise too; his long passing incisive, his work rate admirable.

    Roman Zobnin has been one of the surprise packages of the tournament; the fact Russia left Igor Denisov, who would usually play in his spot, at home because of a managerial feud simply hasn't been the talking point expected.

    Biggest rise: Rodrigo Bentancur (+10)

    Biggest fall: Multiple (-5)


    Top 20 Defensive Midfielders/Central Midfielders
    1N'Golo Kante (+1)France
    2Luka Modric (-1)Croatia
    3Paul Pogba (+1)France
    4Philippe Coutinho (-1)Brazil
    5Casemiro (+2)Brazil
    6Andres Iniesta (Stay)Spain
    7Roman Zobnin (+4)Russia
    8Rodrigo Bentancur (+10)Uruguay
    9Kevin De Bruyne (+1)Belgium
    10Valon Behrami (-5)Switzerland
    11Ivan Rakitic (+2)Croatia
    12Idrissa Gueye (-4)Senegal
    13Jordan Henderson (+1)England
    14Hector Herrera (-5)Mexico
    15Wilmar Barrios (New!)Colombia
    16Omid Ebrahimi (-4)Iran
    17Nahitan Nandez (New!)Uruguay
    18Gaku Shibasaki (+2)Japan
    19Saeid Ezatolahi (Stay)Iran
    20 Paulinho (New!)Brazil

Attacking Midfielders/Wingers

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    SAEED KHAN/Getty Images

    Sometimes it's tough to select the No. 1 in certain positions. Sometimes the answer is staring you right in the face.

    Kylian Mbappe's whirlwind performance against Argentina led him to the top of the rankings, making this very much an example of the latter. He displaced Isco, who had a lot of touches against Russia but didn't do too much with them.

    Neymar grabbed a goal and an assist against Mexico as his upward curve continued, while Ante Rebic impressed again during Croatia's win over Denmark.

    Biggest rise: Kylian Mbappe (+13)

    Biggest fall: Multiple (-8)


    Top 20 Attacking Midfielders/Wingers
    1Kylian Mbappe (+13)France
    2Eden Hazard (+2)Belgium
    3Isco (-2)Spain
    4Aleksandr Golovin (+1)Russia
    5Nordin Amrabat (-3)Morocco
    6Takashi Inui (+3)Japan
    7Hirving Lozano (Stay)Mexico
    8Ante Rebic (+5)Croatia
    9Dries Mertens (+6)Belgium
    10Neymar (+6)Brazil
    11Denis Cheryshev (-8)Russia
    12Andre Carrillo (-4)Peru
    13Carlos Vela (-3)Mexico
    14Juan Quintero (-8)Colombia
    15Yurary Poulsen (New!)Denmark
    16Xherdan Shaqiri (-4)Switzerland
    17Ivan Perisic (Stay)Croatia
    18 Shinji Kagawa (New!)Japan
    19Antoine Griezmann (New!)France
    20Christian Eriksen (Stay)Denmark


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    ODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

    Striking performances don't get much better than Edinson Cavani's against Portugal. The man was everywhere, defending headers in his own box, linking attacks from deep and putting balls in the back of the net too.

    He outshone Cristiano Ronaldo that night by a distance. Ronaldo's tournament started incredibly brightly but steadily dimmed with each performance. Cavani's showing was enough to take him above Romelu Lukaku too; the Belgian shrunk into his shell a bit against Japan and missed a series of chances—though he did produce a good dummy in the buildup to Nacer Chadli's winner.

    But while Cavani's been superb, Harry Kane deserves to keep his spot at the top of the rankings; his performance against Colombia was so mature, so effective, and to keep his cool and bury that spot-kick after several minutes of disruption...well, it was distinctly un-English to say the least.

    Biggest rise: Luis Suarez (New!)

    Biggest fall: Diego Costa (-3)


    Top 10 Strikers
    1Harry Kane (Stay)England
    2Edinson Cavani (+4)Uruguay
    3Romelu Lukaku (-1)Belgium
    4Artem Dzyuba (+1)Russia
    5Cristiano Ronaldo (-2)Portugal
    6Luis Suarez (New!)Uruguay
    7Diego Costa (-3)Spain
    8Olivier Giroud (New!)France
    9Ahmed Musa (-2)Nigeria
    10M'Baye Niang (-2)Senegal