World Cup 2018: Top 5 performers in Russia
- Who were your Top 5 of the World Cup 2018? Please let us know in the comments section.
FIFA World Cup 2018 was a massive success, with France lifting the coveted trophy after waiting for 20 years. The runners-up, Croatia, could not win the tournament but definitely went out with their heads held high, winning millions of hearts with their fearless victories and free-flowing football. They reached the finals for the first time in the history of the sport, which was an incredible feat.
It was an unpredictable month-long journey in the tournament, as most of the favourites for the trophy faced early exits. Top stars in the world like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Mohamed Salah failed to impress at the world's biggest sporting event, making way for new heroes in Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe, Luka Modric and Harry Kane.
You could call it the tournament of the underdogs as the formerly massive gap in talent between the favourites and the smaller teams was reduced considerably in 2018. 2010 champions, Spain, were knocked out by hosts Russia; 2014 winners, Germany, failed to qualify for the knockout stages from their unchallenging group, and winners, France, gracefully knocked Argentina out of the extravaganza.
It was a wave of change in the final 4 of the competition and the emergence of new footballing superstars, as they bravely led their teams to the final stages of the competition. Let's take a look at the 5 best performers for their respective nations in the FIFA World Cup 2018:
#5 Harry Maguire (England)
The 25-year-old defender, Harry Maguire, was one of England's standout performers at World Cup 2018, winning more aerial duels (33) than any other defender in Russia. The former Sheffield United and Hull City player joined EPL side Leicester City for a reported €17 million in the summer of 2017 and hasn't looked back since.
The defender scored the crucial opening goal against Sweden in England's last 16 clash at the World Cup, as he grew from strength to strength with each passing game. Maguire’s commanding presence and dominance in the backline helped dig England out of their most vulnerable moments. His ability to surge powerfully and directly through the pitch also helped relieve the pressure on the team and also created openings in attacking areas.
A big, strong centre-back who isn't afraid of carrying the ball out of defence, Maguire possesses all the traits to be a world-class footballer. He is at the perfect age to move to a top European club and it will be extremely surprising if Leicester don't receive a big offer for the defender in this transfer window.
By being given the opportunity to express his full range of abilities under Gareth Southgate's progressive and expansive England side, he showed his class while establishing himself as both - a rare central defender and a talented footballer. He is now linked with some of the top Premier League clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool.
It remains to be seen which club the defender eventually joins before the season starts or whether chooses to stay with the Foxes. Only time will tell.