World Cup 2018: Golden Ball Power Rankings
As every team has completed two games in the FIFA World Cup, it is a good time to take stock of which players are excelling in the tournament. While most of the discussion surrounding World Cup awards pertain to the ‘Golden Boot’- awarded to the top scorer, more interesting is the race for the Golden Ball- the award for the best player in the tournament. Previous winners of the prestigious award include the who’s who of footballing history: Ferenc Puskas, Bobby Charlton, Pele, Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi- to name just a few. So who have been the best players in Russia this summer up to this point?
The number of fantastic performances by players in this World Cup is so exhaustive that it was almost impossible to narrow this list down to 10 players. Even these honourable mentions exclude quite a few players who have excelled in Russia.
At 19 years old, one would expect Kylian Mbappe to struggle at his first major tournament. The reality has been completely different as the Paris St Germain forward has excelled for France. Mbappe has been a constant spark for a talented yet often toothless French attack. His tap-in against Peru was crucial for Les Blues’ chances of finishing first in the group. Slightly less important has been his link-up play with Antoine Griezmann, his clever movements and his creativity (averaging one key pass per game).
Aleksandr Golovin (who has been heavily linked to Arsenal) has been among the best young players of the tournament so far. While much of the discussion surrounding the Russian has pertained to his exquisite free-kick against Saudi Arabia, his contributions have been so much more than that. The Russian has contributed two assists while creating five chances against Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Such performances bode well for the host nation’s hopes later in the tournament.
The recent uproar surrounding Xherdan Shaqiri’s goal celebrations against Serbia has overshadowed the Swiss winger’s excellent performances in the World Cup so far. The Stoke City player was a constant threat on the counter against Brazil before whipping in an excellent corner for Steven Zuber’s equalizer. Shaqiri’s performance against Serbia was even better as he was the best player on the pitch before scoring the winner in the 90th minute. While the Swiss’s performances have not been as spectacular as those who made the list, he continues to be a player to watch as Switzerland look to shock some favourites later in the tournament.