World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players in Russia After Quarter-Finals

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJuly 8, 2018

World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players in Russia After Quarter-Finals

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    EMMANUEL DUNAND/Getty Images

    All of a sudden, we're down to four candidates. The 2018 World Cup finals have flown by, and France, Belgium, England and Croatia have a chance of winning it.

    With the quarter-finals done, it's time to update our World Cup 100—a position-by-position ranking of the top-performing players in Russia.

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

    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, then he is placed in the one he's played the most minutes in.
    • If he has played the same number of minutes in two separate positions, then he is placed in the one he played in most recently.

    Because of team eliminations and rotating lineups, 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 previous edition here.


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    Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

    There were some big performances between the sticks at the quarter-final stage.

    Belgium's Thibaut Courtois and England's Jordan Pickford played big parts in their teams' victories—each making several excellent saves. Hugo Lloris produced one massive stop to keep France's sheet clean, and Danijel Subasic came up big in a penalty shootout for Croatia once again.

    All four of them are either rising fast or entering the rankings, and all four will contest the semi-finals.

    Biggest rise: Thibaut Courtois (New!)

    Biggest fall: Yann Sommer (-5)


    Top 10 Goalkeepers
    1Kasper Schmeichel (Stay)Denmark
    2Thibaut Courtois (New!)Belgium
    3Danijel Subasic (+5)Croatia
    4Guillermo Ochoa (-2)Mexico
    5Jo Hyeon-woo (-2)South Korea
    6Alireza Beiranvand (-2)Iran
    7Robin Olsen (Stay)Sweden
    8Jordan Pickford (New!)England
    9Hugo Lloris (New!)France
    10Yann Sommer (-5)

Right-Backs/Right Wing-Backs

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    Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

    Mario Fernandes' equalising header in extra time against Croatia looked set to ensure he remained at the top of the right-back rankings...but then the Russian dragged a penalty wide in the shootout.

    That act gives England's Kieran Trippier, who has been sublime (and error-free) in all four games he's played in Russia, a clear path to the No. 1 spot. 

    Croatia's Sime Vrsaljko and France's Benjamin Pavard put in steady performances as their teams won. Moussa Wague moves back into 10th despite not playing (Senegal were knocked out in the groups), but Brazil's Fagner was so poor against Belgium he had to drop out.

    Biggest rise: Multiple (+3)

    Biggest fall: Multiple (-2)


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

Left-Backs/Left Wing-Backs

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    Keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet is a tough gig. All things considered, Uruguay's Diego Laxalt did well in his attempt to do so.

    It was by no means a shutout performance, as the Frenchman wriggled free on a few occasions, but for the most part Mbappe was stymied. 

    On the same pitch, Lucas Hernandez impressed again, as his combative style helped to stop Uruguay from gaining ground through Nahitan Nandez and Martin Caceres.

    Biggest rise: Lucas Hernandez (+3)

    Biggest fall: Ehsan Haji Safi (-2)


    Top 10 Left-Backs/Left Wing-Backs
    1Diego Laxalt (+1)Uruguay
    2Ludwig Augustinsson (-1)Sweden
    3Yuto Nagatomo (Stay)Japan
    4Lucas Hernandez (+3)France
    5Yuri Zhirkov (-1)Russia
    6Youssouf Sabaly (-1)Senegal
    7Jesus Gallardo (-1)Mexico
    8Ashley Young (New!)England
    9Ivan Strinic (New!)Croatia
    10Ehsan Haji Safi (-2)Iran


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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Two England centre-backs in the top four. What strange alternate reality is this?

    Harry Maguire notched his first goal for his country at quite the time, heading home to break the deadlock against Sweden and setting The Three Lions on course for victory. He's had an incredible tournament, as have compatriots John Stones and Kyle Walker—the latter of which has crept into the top 20 for the first time.

    Raphael Varane and Domagoj Vida, both goalscorers, enter the rankings, too, while Belgium's Toby Alderweireld makes a big leap (+6) thanks to his masterful display against Brazil.

    Biggest rise: Multiple (+6)

    Biggest fall: Nikola Milenkovic (-6)


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

Defensive Midfielders/Central Midfielders

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    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    It's as you were for the top three, as N'Golo Kante, Luka Modric and Paul Pogba all played well to varying degrees. France's Kante was the strongest of the lot, cementing top spot for another week.

    Kevin De Bruyne's performance against Brazil was majestic and clever, as the midfielder played an unfamiliar false-nine role but thrived regardless. He stays in the central midfield section, having played the majority of his football in Russia in that role, though.

    Brazil keenly felt Casemiro's absence as Fernandinho toiled in his place, committing fouls, failing to stop counter-attacks and, of course, scoring an own goal!

    Biggest rise: Jesse Lingard (New!)

    Biggest fall: Andres Iniesta (-3)


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

Attacking Midfielders/Wingers

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    DIMITAR DILKOFF/Getty Images

    Mbappe's reign at the top was short-lived. Four days, to be exact.

    It's not that he played poorly against Uruguay—he was bottled up to an extent but did break free and exert his influence every now and then—it's just that Eden Hazard was incredible for Belgium against Brazil, continuing his own stellar tournament.

    We have two big movers in Russia's Denis Cheryshev (scored another screamer) and France's Antoine Griezmann (grabbed a goal and an assist), while those who were knocked out at the group stage steadily filter down the list.

    Biggest rise: Antoine Griezmann (+6)

    Biggest fall: Multiple (-2)


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


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    Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

    Harry Kane played well against Sweden. The Englishman didn't find himself on the scoresheet (for once) but did play smartly, holding the ball up and distributing with slickness. It was a performance to be pleased with but one not good enough to hold off Romelu Lukaku in the rankings.

    The Belgian's incredible showing against Brazil might well be his best ever—considering the stage, the opposition and what he did to them—as his reworked role off the right flank put him in the perfect spot to take advantage of the space Marcelo left.

    Olivier Giroud is yet to score at this World Cup, but his importance to this France side cannot be underestimated. His performance against Uruguay served as yet more evidence of that.

    Biggest rise: Romelu Lukaku (+2)

    Biggest fall: Multiple (-1)

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



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