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World Cup 2018: 3 stars who deserve a start in the final round of group matches

ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
940   //    25 Jun 2018, 00:35 IST

Germany v Sweden: Group F - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Reus - sensational talent

The FIFA World Cup is up and running in Russia and the action has been absolutely exhilarating to say the least. We have seen sensational goals, own goals, late drama and major upsets all through what has been a stunning tournament that has lived up to expectations.

At the start of the tournament, the top sides were expected to ease through to the second round, from where the real action was expected to begin. However, the smaller nations have made it tough for these superpowers, and this has made the tournament all the more difficult to predict.

With most of these sides boasting some of the top talent playing in some of the best European clubs from around the world, national team coaches find it extremely difficult to select the final 23 touring party, as they have to leave out quite a few quality players out.

It becomes even more harder to select the final playing XI, as quite a few of these players come into the tournament having made strong cases for themselves after good performances for their respective clubs.

If the decisions made by the manager fail to come off and if this sees the international team in trouble, they are heavily scrutinized. It has been the same case in this World Cup too as a few selections made by managers have failed to come off and fans have clamoured for changes to be made.

In this article, we list players who deserve a place in the starting XI for their respective countries in the final round of group stage matches, ahead of the players currently in the playing XI.


#1 Paulo Dybala (Argentina)

Argentina v Croatia: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Dybala - sensational talent

To say that Argentina is in a crisis is a massive understatement. They are struggling on the pitch as there is absolutely no kind of cohesion and understanding in their play and they look a disjoint unit.

There are problems off the pitch as well, since there seems to be a lack of trust, and the united feeling in the team seems to be missing. And yet, all is not lost for the Argentines as Nigeria's victory over Iceland has put their fate in their own hands.

The main man behind Argentina's problems seems to be none other than their coach- Jorge Sampaoli. The man who won multiple titles with Chile and Sevilla FC was entrusted with the thankless task of ending Argentina's long wait for an international glory.

They just about sneaked into the World Cup thanks to their talismanic skipper's hat-trick in the final qualification match. Despite this, Messi's presence in the team ensured that Argentina would still start as one of the favourites. However, Sampaoli's decisions have almost neutralized Messi's presence in the team.

The world knows that Argentina rely on their attack that possess the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala. Their defense and midfield is nowhere near as good as this front-line.

So it's the manager's job to design such a system where he can put most of these top stars together to bring out the best of Messi and Argentina.

He has however failed miserably, as he has left Dybala and Higuain on the bench in both games and also put di Maria on the bench in a crucial fixture against Croatia.

It's well known that Dybala's playing style is very much similar to Messi's, and that they occupy very similar areas on the pitch. Were Dybala's replacements; Acuna and Meza any better?

The answer is no and the manager should have noticed this and brought Dybala on earlier, so that he could make a substantial impact. Surely, Dybala would have played better than those two even when played out of his favoured position.

Argentina still has a decent chance to go through and Sampaoli must somehow devise a system to play Dybala and Messi along with one of Aguero or Higuain.

These players are capable of pieces of individual brilliance, and they need to be on the pitch for a longer period than the likes of Acuna and Meza.

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ANALYST
Neeraj, a 20-year who has sports running through his blood and mind 24x7 is a cricket-crazy fan. With Rahul Dravid as his role-model and Dale Steyn as his inspiration, he hopes he can still make it big as a fast bowler.
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