World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players in Russia After the Round of 16
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.
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)
|1||Kasper Schmeichel (+5)||Denmark|
|2||Guillermo Ochoa (+7)||Mexico|
|3||Jo Hyeon-woo (-2)||South Korea|
|4||Alireza Beiranvand (-2)||Iran|
|5||Yann Sommer (-2)||Switzerland|
|6||Keylor Navas (-1)||Costa Rica|
|7||Robin Olsen (+1)||Sweden|
|8||Danijel Subasic (New!)||Croatia|
|9||David Ospina (-5)||Colombia|
|10||Hannes Halldorsson (-3)||Iceland|
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)
|1||Mario Fernandes (Stay)||Russia|
|2||Kieran Trippier (+3)||England|
|3||Thomas Meunier (+3)||Belgium|
|4||Martin Caceres (New!)||Uruguay|
|5||Ramin Rezaeian (-2)||Iran|
|6||Luis Advincula (-2)||Peru|
|7||Sime Vrsaljko (+1)||Croatia|
|8||Henrik Dalsgaard (-6)||Denmark|
|9||Benjamin Pavard (New!)||France|
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)
|1||Ludwig Augustinsson (+1)||Sweden|
|2||Diego Laxalt (New!)||Uruguay|
|3||Yuto Nagatomo (+3)||Japan|
|4||Yuri Zhirkov (+1)||Russia|
|5||Youssouf Sabaly (-4)||Senegal|
|6||Jesus Gallardo (-2)||Mexico|
|7||Lucas Hernandez (New!)||France|
|8||Ehsan Hajsafi (-5)||Iran|
|9||Aleksandar Kolarov (-2)||Serbia|
|10||Aziz Behich (-2)||Australia|
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)
|1||Andreas Granqvist (Stay)||Sweden|
|2||Diego Godin (Stay)||Uruguay|
|3||John Stones (Stay)||England|
|4||Jose Gimenez (+1)||Uruguay|
|5||Yerry Mina (+11)||Colombia|
|6||Thiago Silva (+1)||Brazil|
|7||Manuel Akanji (-1)||Switzerland|
|9||Simon Kjaer (+1)||Denmark|
|10||Harry Maguire (New!)||England|
|11||Morteza Pouraliganji (-7)||Iran|
|12||Nikola Milenkovic (-4)||Serbia|
|13||Jan Vertonghen (-1)||Belgium|
|14||Carlos Salcedo (+4)||Mexico|
|15||Kim Young-gwon (-4)||South Korea|
|16||Toby Alderweireld (-1)||Belgium|
|17||Victor Lindelof (New!)||Sweden|
|18||Majid Hosseini (-5)||Iran|
|19||Ilya Kutepov (New!)||Russia|
|20||Andreas Christensen (-6)||Denmark|
Defensive Midfielders/Central Midfielders
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)
|1||N'Golo Kante (+1)||France|
|2||Luka Modric (-1)||Croatia|
|3||Paul Pogba (+1)||France|
|4||Philippe Coutinho (-1)||Brazil|
|6||Andres Iniesta (Stay)||Spain|
|7||Roman Zobnin (+4)||Russia|
|8||Rodrigo Bentancur (+10)||Uruguay|
|9||Kevin De Bruyne (+1)||Belgium|
|10||Valon Behrami (-5)||Switzerland|
|11||Ivan Rakitic (+2)||Croatia|
|12||Idrissa Gueye (-4)||Senegal|
|13||Jordan Henderson (+1)||England|
|14||Hector Herrera (-5)||Mexico|
|15||Wilmar Barrios (New!)||Colombia|
|16||Omid Ebrahimi (-4)||Iran|
|17||Nahitan Nandez (New!)||Uruguay|
|18||Gaku Shibasaki (+2)||Japan|
|19||Saeid Ezatolahi (Stay)||Iran|
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)
|1||Kylian Mbappe (+13)||France|
|2||Eden Hazard (+2)||Belgium|
|4||Aleksandr Golovin (+1)||Russia|
|5||Nordin Amrabat (-3)||Morocco|
|6||Takashi Inui (+3)||Japan|
|7||Hirving Lozano (Stay)||Mexico|
|8||Ante Rebic (+5)||Croatia|
|9||Dries Mertens (+6)||Belgium|
|11||Denis Cheryshev (-8)||Russia|
|12||Andre Carrillo (-4)||Peru|
|13||Carlos Vela (-3)||Mexico|
|14||Juan Quintero (-8)||Colombia|
|15||Yurary Poulsen (New!)||Denmark|
|16||Xherdan Shaqiri (-4)||Switzerland|
|17||Ivan Perisic (Stay)||Croatia|
|18||Shinji Kagawa (New!)||Japan|
|19||Antoine Griezmann (New!)||France|
|20||Christian Eriksen (Stay)||Denmark|
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)
|1||Harry Kane (Stay)||England|
|2||Edinson Cavani (+4)||Uruguay|
|3||Romelu Lukaku (-1)||Belgium|
|4||Artem Dzyuba (+1)||Russia|
|5||Cristiano Ronaldo (-2)||Portugal|
|6||Luis Suarez (New!)||Uruguay|
|7||Diego Costa (-3)||Spain|
|8||Olivier Giroud (New!)||France|
|9||Ahmed Musa (-2)||Nigeria|
|10||M'Baye Niang (-2)||Senegal|