World Cup Group Stage Awards
With the group stages complete now, here are our awards for the best and worst of the World Cup so far…
TEAM OF THE GROUP STAGE – CROATIA
Special mention goes to Belgium for their impressive start but Croatia’s crushing 3-0 win over Argentina seals this award for them. The Croats won all 3 of their games and will be confident of at least a quarter-final spot.
PLAYER OF THE GROUP STAGE – LUKA MODRIC (Croatia)
Another award for Croatia as the Real Madrid midfielder showed why he is one of the best central midfielders in the world. Impressive whether playing deep or in a more advanced role, Modric scored 2 goals in 3 games and captained the side to 3 wins.
MATCH OF THE GROUP STAGE – PORTUGAL 3-3 SPAIN
This opening group game had it all, penalties, free kicks, a hat trick and 2 contenders for goal of the tournament. World player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo was in imperious form here scoring all 3 of Portugal’s goal including a stunning free-kick late on to cancel out Nacho’s superb volley.
GOAL OF THE GROUP STAGE – TONI KROOS (GERMANY vs Sweden)
Many contenders here and this could’ve easily been another award for Croatia and Luka Modric. I’ve gone for Kroos just because of the importance of the game with his stunner keeping Germany clinging on, for a while anyway.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT (TEAM) – GERMANY
Could there be anyone else? The 2014 champions could’ve easily lost all 3 games. None of their key players stepped up except Kroos, with Muller and Ozil particularly poor. Their defence was a joke throughout and they are deservedly going home.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT (PLAYER) – LIONEL MESSI
This may be harsh as he did score a great goal against Nigeria to help Argentina survive. However, with top players around him like Ronaldo, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku to name a few stepping up, his performances overall have been very disappointing. People have said that Messi is let down by his teammates but he is also letting them down by not really doing much at all.
BEST SURPRISE (TEAM) – JAPAN
I don’t think anyone expected Japan to make it through. Although Colombia was down to 10 men for most of the game, Japan did well to defeat them.
BEST SURPRISE (PLAYER) – ANDREAS GRANQVIST (SWEDEN)
The former Wigan defender has been vital for Sweden so far. He has contributed 2 goals and defended superbly for the Swedes.
GROUP STAGE XI
Fernando Muslera (Uruguay) – 3 clean sheets for Muslera were the driving force for Uruguay winning all 3 group games, especially as they scraped through 2 of those games.
Kieran Trippier (England) – Trippier has been excellent for England in the wing back role. His set piece delivery has been incredibly productive with England scoring more from set pieces than any other team.
Jose Gimenez (Uruguay) – The Atletico Madrid defender has been superb helping the South Americans to 3 clean sheets. He also scored the winner against Egypt in the opening game.
John Stones (England) – England and Uruguay dominating the defensive positions here. Stones has led England’s back line superbly and contributed with 2 goals against Panama. Was sorely missed when taken off against Belgium.
Andreas Granqvist (Sweden) – The 33-year-old has been a revelation for the Swedes. He has scored 2 goals and defended admirably in their 3 games.
Philippe Coutinho (Brazil) – Brazil haven’t set the world alight so far
but Coutinho looks to be in fine form. He scored a brilliant goal against Switzerland and the opener against Costa Rica and has been Brazil’s stand out player so far.
Jordan Henderson (England) – The pivot, as Gareth Southgate calls him, in England’s midfield, Hendo has been a key man in getting England to the knockout stages. His intensity and energy were missed against Belgium.
Luka Modric (Croatia) – For me, the best player in the World Cup so far. Modric has captained Croatia to 3 straight wins scoring 2 goals in the process.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – The world’s best player has stepped up for Portugal as he usually does. Scoring 4 goals, including a hat-trick against Spain, Ronaldo has dragged Portugal through.
Harry Kane (England) – The top scorer in the group stage, and he only played 2 games. Kane scored twice against Tunisia including a stoppage-time winner and then hit a hat-trick against Panama. Will be vital for England going forward.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) – Lukaku has also only played 2 games but scored a brace in each. Lukaku was a huge reason Belgium were able to dominate Panama and Tunisia so easily.
Special mentions – Diego Godin (Uruguay), Isco (Spain), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Hirving Lozano (Mexico), Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland), Son Heung Min (South Korea)
– Robert Shiers