The best players of the World Cup preliminary round
Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Bruno Fernandes already let it rip in the World Cup group stage
the WM-Preliminary round is history – and with that it’s all over for one or the other star. Kevin de Bruyne, Joshua Kimmich and Federico Valverde fell through the grid. However, it is also time to take stock and give a special mention to the strongest players of the preliminary round.
1. Kylian Mbappe (France)
One can from Kylian Mbappe keep what you want, but he is simply world class in terms of sport. The 23-year-old proved that again in the group stage of the World Cup. The PSG star was instrumental in the turnaround with his two goals against Australia and also shone against Denmark with an assist and a last-minute goal to win. You really can’t deliver more. Accordingly, Mbappé was initially shipped to the bench against Tunisia to save energy.
2. Cody Gakpo (Netherlands)
Despite seven points in the group stage, Elftal were actually quite disappointing. This is especially true for the offensive. The only exception was Eindhoven star Cody Gakpo. The youngster scored in all three preliminary round matches against Senegal, Ecuador and Qatar and caused a constant stir. Without the offensive player, the preliminary round could have ended like Belgium or Germany from Oranje’s point of view.
3.Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)
Whoever is in the team with Cristiano Ronaldo has to earn every goal hard. After all, he would like to score every goal for himself – regardless of whether he was on the ball or not. Bruno Fernandes was still the best Portuguese of the preliminary round and one of the best players of the entire tournament. The United star was instrumental in the 3-2 win over Ghana with two assists and was also responsible for the second win with his brace against Uruguay.
4. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Lionel Messi hunt with Argentina following his big dream of finally becoming world champion. In the group phase not everything went smoothly for Messi and Co, but the superstar was there at the decisive moment. After the sensational bankruptcy against Saudi Arabia, in which Messi was still the best player on his team, the PSG star brought salvation against Mexico with his dream goal from 25 meters. He also prepared the 2-0. He was also strong in the last game against Poland, although he missed a penalty. Messi is in top form but still has room for improvement in terms of efficiency.
5. Alvaro Morata (Spain)
Efficiency is the word that is probably best used as an antonym for morata suitable. The Spaniard is a self-confessed killer, which is why he never became a world-class striker despite his footballing class. At the 2022 World Cup, however, it will be different. Morata scored and provided an assist in the 7-0 win against Costa Rica. However, his joker goal against the DFB team was much more important. Morata scored another goal against Japan, but it didn’t prevent defeat. But the Spaniards shouldn’t really care.
6. Enner Valencia (Ecuador)
You can feel a little sorry for Ecuador. The South Americans really played a good World Cup and they Eleven Valley for example playfully disassembled. In the end, however, the end is certain as a bitter result. However, it wasn’t due to Enner Valencia. The attacker made things clear with a brace against Qatar and also scored the goal in the 1-1 draw with Holland. Only against Senegal did he get nothing.
7. Ritsu Doan (Japan)
Japan is one of the surprises par excellence in the World Cup group stage. Ritsu Doan definitely played a big part in that. The Freiburger scored the important equalizer against the DFB team and did the same in the last group match against Spain. He was also involved in creating the winning goal. Overall, Doan can be commended for a very efficient performance.
8. Mohammed Kudus (Ghana)
Mohammed Kudus may have missed out on the round of 16 with the Black Stars but was one of the discoveries of the tournament. The Ajax youngster had a very gripping performance against Portugal before becoming a hero against South Korea with two goals. The midfielder also performed well against Uruguay but was not rewarded for his efforts. 17 duels, a penalty and a hit against the post symbolize his excellent but ultimately unlucky performance. We will still be hearing a lot from kudus.
9. Wojciech Szczęsny (Poland)
The Poland keeper has played a flawless preliminary round and is instrumental in his homeland remaining represented. In the games against Mexico and especially Saudi Arabia he came under fire, but kept his clean slate. That was no longer possible against Argentina, but at least he saved a penalty from Lionel Messi. So far, Wojciech Szczęsny is clearly the keeper of the tournament.
10. Casemiro (Brazil)
Casemiro has been a real constant in world football for years. The six is one of the best players of all against the ball and is an important anchor of the Selecao with his strong tackle and his equally good positional play. He also brought these qualities to the pitch in his two appearances against Serbia and Switzerland. On the other hand, it is rather unusual that Casemiro was also dangerous with the ball. The Brazilian almost scored from long-range against the Serbs before scoring the important winning goal against Switzerland.
11. Adrian Rabiot (France)
Who can replace Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté in midfield at Les Bleus? After the preliminary round, you have to state very clearly that Rabiot succeeded. The Juve star presented himself as a strong player, a keen runner and led the young midfield with his experience. In the 4-1 win over Australia, he was also instrumental in turning things around with a goal and an assist. The 27-year-old has rarely been seen so strong.
12. Josko Gvardiol (Croatia)
The Leipzig star really does not have it easy in a Croatian defense that is not really well manned. Surely it was incredibly lucky that Croatia only conceded one goal in the preliminary round. Lukaku alone had more chances in the last ten minutes than an ordinary striker gets in the whole tournament. Gvardiol still cleared everything that was possible. A very strong performance, which makes him forget his rather mixed first half of the season at RB Leipzig for the time being.
13. Theo Hernandez (France)
The lightning-fast full-back also showed in the preliminary round of the World Cup that he is now one of the best players in his position. The Milan star is a real weapon, especially on the way forward. Hernández shone with one assist each against Australia and Denmark and boasted terrific passing and tackling rates. This shows that he is now a complete left-back. It’s just bitter that he moved into the team because of his brother’s injury.
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This article was originally published on 90min.de as The best players of the World Cup preliminary round released.