The tournament’s initial phase saw a number of upsets with many surprising heroes stepping up to claim the limelight.
The highl- anticipated game between England and Belgium brought to an end one of the most eventful World Cup group stages in recent history. Giants were killed and surprises were plentiful, as countries like Germany and Argentina struggled to live up to expectations, with the former even failing to qualify for the knockout stages.
So, we at Khel Now have put together a team of the standout players of the group stages in Russia.
Goalkeeper: Danijel Subasic
The 33-year-old AS Monaco shot-stopper is yet to concede a goal in this edition of the World Cup, as he managed to keep clean-sheets against the likes of Nigeria and Argentina, before he was rested for the game against Iceland. Subasic has stood out in a tournament where several high-profile keepers have failed to impress.
Right-Back: Youssouf Sabaly
Sabaly plies his trade for Bordeaux in Ligue 1 and was a star in a very attractive Senegalese side. The full-back played a part in both his side’s goals against Japan and demonstrated his incredible pace, athleticism and crossing ability and was unlucky to see his side lose out on progression.
Here is the Team of the FIFA World Cup 2018 group stages
Centre-Back: Jose Gimenez
Jose Gimenez was sidelined for Uruguay’s victory against Russia, but made enough of an impact in his previous games to make it onto our side. The 23-year-old has helped Uruguay keep nine clean-sheets in 12 games and even scored the first goal in his side’s match against Egypt.
Centre-Back: Andreas Granqvist
The Swedish captain has led his side admirably after taking over the armband from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2016, leading Sweden to the top of a very competitive group. The 33-year-old even chipped in with two goals in the group stage and partners Giminez in our side.
Left-Back: Ricardo Rodriguez
The 25-year-old AC Milan man has impressed in a very spirited Swiss side that finished second in their group. Rodriguez has put in a series of accomplished performances at left-back with his powerful runs and impressive crossing and has earned himself a place in our side.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Mile Jedinak
Jedinak was in red-hot form in this World Cup
The big Australian impressed in his side’s push to get themselves out of a group that included the likes of Denmark and France. The Australian captain scored two goals in his side’s three group games and was unlucky not to progress.
Central Midfield: Philipe Coutinho
The Brazilian manager, Tite moved Coutinho to a deeper position to accommodate Neymar and Gabriel Jesus further up the pitch, a move that proved to be a masterstroke as the Barcelona man chipped in with two goals as well as dictating the pace of his side’s games.
Central Midfield: Luka Modric
Croatia have arguably been the team of the tournament so far, with nine points out of their three group games. They owe their success in no small part to Real Madrid’s Luka Modric. The little midfielder scored two goals and mesmerised the crowds with his magical touches and movement. He joins Coutinho in midfield.
Left Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo seems more determined than ever in this World Cup
In what could very well be his final World Cup, Portugal’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, as ever, has carried them to qualification to the Round of 16. The 33-year-old laid down a marker with a brilliant hat-trick against Spain and followed it up with a well-taken header against Morocco, putting him right in contention for the Golden Boot.
Centre Forward: Harry Kane
The tournament’s leading goalscorer and England’s captain, Harry Kane is a shoe-in to make this team. The forward has five goals to his name so far and he was not even involved in England’s final game against Belgium.
Right forward: Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku has successfully shut his critics up in the World Cup
The big Belgian striker scored braces in his first two games and does not look like slowing down. Lukaku will be eying the Golden Boot following his side’s excellent start to the tournament, having won all three of their group games.
The Uruguayan goalkeeper has put in impressive performances and will have to continue to do so as he will be up against Ronaldo in the Round of 16.
The Athletico Madrid man partnered Jose Giminez in the heart of the Uruguay defence and has even scored a goal in his team’s group stage games.
The new Barcelona centre-back played two games for his country in Russia and scored two goals. Not a bad for a defender.
The midfielder has been a revelation for the hosts
The Russian #6 has scored three goals from midfield in a Russian side that has surpassed expectations so far in the competition.
Eriksen has been at his creative best for Denmark and has guided his side to a Round of 16 berth.
Along with Lukaku, Hazard has been Belgium’s best player. He has provided goals, assists and a lot more to his side.
The Spanish striker has done his bit and provided goals for his country. He has also held up the play well and brought the likes of Isco and Andres Iniesta into play.