The 2022 FIFA World Cup group stage will draw to a close soon. The World Cup, true to its nature, has delivered a number of surprises already. A few of the biggest and most high-profile national teams in the world have been knocked out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup already.
Teams like Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Mexico have crashed out of the tournament. Their performances at the 2022 FIFA World Cup were underwhelming and were marked by the inability of several players to rise to the occasion.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the five most disappointing individual performances by superstars in the 2022 FIFA World Cup stage.
#5 Cristian Romero (Argentina) vs Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1 in their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener. It was one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Lionel Scaloni's side were on a 36-game unbeaten streak heading into the game and were fancied to have a comfortable outing.
Scaloni chose to go with his preferred centre-back pairing of Cristian Romero and Nicolas Otamendi. However, there were doubts over Romero's fitness heading into the game as he had not played for Tottenham Hotspur in a month. The 24-year-old did little to allay such concerns once the game started.
Romero was beaten time and again by the Saudi attackers. He looked vulnerable and lost a footrace to Al-Shehri which led to Saudi's equalizer. Romero couldn't do anything about Saudi's second goal either and was hooked on the hour mark.
#4 Unai Simon (Spain) vs Japan
Unai Simon had a largely forgettable outing in the group stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. His shot-stopping could have been better but it was Simon's horrendous distribution that has become a real cause for concern for La Roja.
Simon played his side into trouble multiple times in the game against Germany and was lucky to get away with it.
In the game against Japan, Simon should have ideally saved Ritsu Doan's opener after getting a hand to it. He kept playing awkward passes to his teammates which were either difficult to control or immediately put them in a compromising position.
Simon conceded two goals against Japan and was easily their worst player in the game.
#3 Niklas Sule (Germany) vs Japan
Niklas Sule started as a full-back against Japan and looked completely out of sorts. He did not look comfortable at all and offered nothing in attack. He was directly culpable for Japan's 83rd minute winning goal scored by Takuma Asano.
He was far too deep inside his own half and ended up playing Asano onside. Sule is a centre-back and deploying him on the right wing was quite a baffling decision from Hansi Flick. The German coach did not hold back in his criticism of the Borussia Dortmund centre-back in his post-match interview. Flick said (via Goal):
"Niklas simply has to pay attention. He played him onside because he dropped two or three steps too far. These are individual mistakes that we had to pay for today."
#2 Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) vs Morocco
Belgium suffered one of the biggest upsets of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, losing 2-0 to Morocco in their second group stage game. Belgium's golden generation is well past their prime now. The Belgian Red Devils were at the top of the FIFA Rankings for three years between 2018 and 2021.
But they have regressed and devolved into a rather ordinary unit and many of their players are no longer performing at a high level. Kevin De Bruyne is their best player right now but even he had a rather forgettable outing at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
He was one of Belgium's worst players against Morocco. The Manchester City man created just one chance in the game and lost possession 27 times in the game. De Bruyne also registered zero touches in the opposition box as Belgium fell to a disappointing defeat.
#1 Romelu Lukaku (Begium) vs Croatia
Despite performing poorly in the games against Canada and Morocco, Belgium could have progressed to the knockout stages with a win over Croatia. They had plenty of chances to put the game to bed but their striker, Romelu Lukaku, dropped one of the worst performances of the 2022 FIFA World Cup so far.
Lukaku came on for Dries Mertens at the break. The 29-year-old hit the post with the goal gaping at the hour mark. Lukaku then made a mess of a close-range header but the ball had already rolled past the byline and it wouldn't have counted.
He then made a meal of yet another opportunity that flowed from a De Bruyne shot. Lukaku was presented with a golden opportunity to win the game for Belgium in the dying embers of the game. However, the striker chested the cross into safety when he should have found the back of the net rather comfortably.