Getty Images

Ranking top 100 players at 2018 World Cup

2 Comments

Here it is. Pro Soccer Talk has ranked the top 100 players at the 2018 World Cup this summer.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Trying to whittle this list down to 100 was near on impossible with plenty of incredible players left out of it altogether. That shows us how stacked the tournament in this summer, despite the likes of Chile, Italy and the Netherlands not even qualifying…

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Below is the list in full, broken up into sections of 10 with analysis on each 10.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


Getty Images

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
2. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
3. Antoine Griezmann (France)
4. Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
5. Neymar (Brazil)
6. Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium)
7. Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
8. Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
9. David de Gea (Spain)
10. Harry Kane (England)

Ronaldo just edges Messi given his heroic end to the season at Real Madrid, while Griezmann should deliver once again for France. The top 10 sees one player from 10 different nations, with Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, Luis Suarez and Neymar all carrying the hopes of a nation on their shoulders.


Getty Images

11. Manuel Neuer (Germany)
12. David Silva (Spain)
13. Luka Modric (Croatia)
14. N’Golo Kante (France)
15. Toni Kroos (Germany)
16. Andres Iniesta (Spain)
17. Eden Hazard (Belgium)
18. Sergio Aguero (Argentina)
19. Gabriel Jesus (Brazil)
20. Kylian Mbappe (France)

This is when we start to see the likes of Spain and Germany having multiple players in the list. Silva and Iniesta will boss games for Spain, while Germany’s solid spine will see Neuer and Kroos star. Watch out for new kids on the block, Gabriel Jesus and Kylian Mbappe.


Getty Images

21. Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)
22. Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)
23. Thomas Muller (Germany)
24. Paul Pogba (France)
25. Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
26. Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
27.  Christian Eriksen (Denmark)
28. Mats Hummels (Germany)
29. Marcelo (Brazil)
30. Sergio Ramos (Spain)

Three German stars in this section to underline their strength in-depth. A sprinkling of top-class center backs in Vertonghen, Hummels and Ramos highlights with full backs Marcelo and Kimmich completing the defensive theme.


AP

31. Alisson (Brazil)
32. Diego Costa (Spain)
33. Raheem Sterling (England)
34. Mesut Ozil (Germany)
35. Dele Alli (England)
36. Isco (Spain)
37. Diego Godin (Uruguay)
38. Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
39. Casemiro (Brazil)
40. Olivier Giroud (France)

Diego Costa and Isco have the potential to be match winners for Spain, so too do Romelu Lukaku for Belgium, Olivier Giroud for France and Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling for England. Think of this as the “if they turn up, they’ll be game-changers” section.


Getty Images

41. Sadio Mane (Senegal)
42. Paulo Dybala (Argentina)
43. Raphale Varane (France)
44. Jordi Alba (Spain)
45. Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina)
46. James Rodriguez (Colombia)
47.  Bernardo Silva (Portugal)
48. Ousmane Dembele (France)
49. Kyle Walker (England)
50. Ivan Rakitic (Croatia)

Plenty of goals and speed from 40-50. Mane will carry Senegal’s hopes, while James will do the same for Colombia. Kyle Walker is one to watch out for. He has the potential to have a great tournament and have a big impact from center back.


Getty Images

51. Toby Alderweireld (Belgium)
52. Nabil Fekir (France)
53. Angel di Maria (Argentina)
54. Marquinhos (Brazil)
55. Koke (Spain)
56. Nemanja Matic (Serbia)
57. Hirving Lozano (Mexico)
58. Jerome Boateng (Germany)
59. Willian (Brazil)
60. Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)

Mexico and Serbia appear for the first time with “Chucky” Lozano set for a breakout tournament for El Tri out wide. Matic will steady Serbia’s ship, while the list of stars just keeps on going for Belgium, Spain, Brazil and Germany.


AP

61. Leon Goretzka (Germany)
62. Dries Mertens (Belgium)
63. Son Heung-min (South Korea)
64. Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)
65. Marcus Rashford (England)
66. Mehdi Benatia (Morocco)
67. Javier Hernandez (Mexico)
68. Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
69. Saul Niguez (Spain)
70. Sami Khedira (Germany)

This seems like a section filled with stars who usually don’t get to shine. Rashford takes a back seat for England, usually, and the likes of Hernandez, Shaqiri and Mertens go about their jobs with minimal fuss. Goretzka is one to watch as he should feature heavily for Germany.


AP

71. Roberto Firmino (Brazil)
72. Vincent Kompany (Belgium)
73. Ivan Perisic (Croatia)
74. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Serbia)
75. Julian Draxler (Germany)
76. Thomas Lemar (France)
77.  Fernandinho (Brazil)
78. Mousa Dembele (Belgium)
79. Emil Forsberg (Sweden)
80. Dusan Tadic (Serbia)

Look at the strength of names we still have on this list as we approach 80. Belgium and Brazil continue to have players included, while Serbian playmakers Tadic and Milinkovic-Savic should get them into the knockout rounds.


Getty Images

81. Pione Sisto (Denmark)
82. Pepe (Portugal)
83. Jesse Lingard (England)
84. Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
85. Paulinho (Brazil)
86. Samuel Umiti (France)
87. Joao Miranda (Brazil)
88. Joel Campbell (Costa Rica)
89. Hector Herrera (Mexico)
90. Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina)

A few of these players can be classed as “breakout stars” with Sisto and Lingard both capable of the sublime moments going forward. Costa Rica stalwarts Navas and Campbell make the list too as they aim for another shock run at the World Cup.


AP

91. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia)
92. Ederson (Brazil)
93. Iago Aspas (Spain)
94. Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)
95. Thiago Alcantara (Germany)
96. Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica)
97. Blas Perez (Panama)
98. Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
99. Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
100. Jose Jimenez (Uruguay)

The final 10 in our top 100 sees some fringe players for the big nations who, if given the chance, should make a splash. Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi will lead the Super Eagles’ attacking unit in a tough group. Watch out for Iago Aspas who has impressed for Spain in recent months, and Mitrovic who is on fire.

Nigeria beats Iceland; Argentina still alive

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
Leave a comment

Ahmed Musa scored a pair of terrific goals as Nigeria set up Group D for a thrilling final day with a 2-0 win over Iceland in Volgograd on Friday.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was arguably Iceland’s Man of the Match before he sent a penalty kick over the bar.

Nigeria now has three points, two more than Argentina and Iceland. Nigeria plays Argentina and Croatia faces Iceland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Gylfi Sigurdsson swung a dangerous early free kick over the bar, then produced the game’s second chance. That one was caught by Francis Uzoho, the 19-year-old Deportivo de la Coruna backstop.

Nigeria’s breakthrough came courtesy a lethal counter attack, as Kenneth Omeruo headed a cross clear of the Eagles’ 18. Kelechi Iheanacho collected and found Victor Moses racing down the right flank.

Moses’ cross was collected by Musa with an unorthodox outside of the boot trap, allowing him a second against his surprised mark. Musa lashed home for 1-0.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The game was delayed for a bit when Ragnar Sigurdsson was waylaid with a head injury.

Wilfred Ndidi had a rip deflected over the bar in the 57th, and Nigeria opted for a short corner.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Musa then basically put it to bed when he cut into the 18 and danced around two defenders with the goalkeeper in between before putting a composed finish into the goal.

Iceland got new life through an 81st minute penalty kick awarded via Video Assistant Referee, but Gylfi Sigurdsson blazed it over the bar.

Jorginho to Man City? Italian report, Noel Gallagher say so

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

I don’t know about you, but I like my transfer news served up piping fresh from the hot stove of Oasis.

Well, at least ex-members of Oasis.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Noted Man City fanatic Noel Gallagher was performing in Naples on Friday with his band the High Flying Birds.

After pumping through a couple Oasis tunes and a cover of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” on Thursday, the singer tossed a little banter toward the crowd.

You see, Man City really wants Napoli midfielder Jorginho, and Gallagher at least looks like a man in the know as Italy’s Corriere Della Sport is reporting that the midfielder is trading his blue shirts between countries.

Jorginho will cost City $57 million, according to the report, which follows this barb from Noel.

Coutinho saves Brazil from Neymar’s VAR humiliation

AP Photo/Michael Sohn
Leave a comment

Dominant Brazil needed stoppage time to find a way past Costa Rican backstop Keylor Navas and pick up a 2-0 win in Saint Petersburg on Friday.

Neymar embarrassingly saw an awarded penalty overturned when he flopped instead of shooting following a tug from Giancarlo Gonzalez, but Philippe Coutinho toe-poked a shot through Navas’ legs in the first of six stoppage time minutes.

Neymar would later add a goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time from Douglas Costa.

Brazil finishes the group stage with Serbia, while Costa Rica waits on Switzerland.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Brazil controlled the first 12 minutes of the match, but Costa Rica just missed a bid to make it 1-0 against the run of play.

Deportivo La Coruña midfielder Celso Borges darted into the box to drag a low shot just wide of the far post.

Gabriel Jesus had the ball in the back of the goal in the 26th minute, but was deemed offside. And Keylor Navas stymied another Brazil rush a minute later.

But Costa Rica’s packed-in camp held Brazil at bay into the break.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Brazil fired out of the gates to start the second half, and Navas was again busy as Neymar clattered into him in search of a loose ball. Well, kinda loose.

When Philippe Coutinho’s hammered shot was blocked out for a corner, it simultaneously felt like Brazil’s goal was either inevitable or destined to not arrive.

Navas then pushed a Neymar point-blank bid over the bar.

Tite opted to bring on Roberto Firmino, but Navas kept up his heroics by collecting a header off another Brazil corner.

The possibility of a scoreless draw felt even more likely when Neymar stole the ball and whipped a 21-yard shot just off the upper 90.

Neymar looked to have a won a penalty kick when Gonzalez tugged him in the six, but VAR overturned the call.

Fabregas praises Vela vs. Germany, not impressed by Ronaldo

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas was left off the Spain squad for this summer’s World Cup, and has been working as a pundit for the BBC.

Friday morning found him posting a column — well, we doubt he handled the posting — on the tournament so far, one that talked about how Spain rebounded from a tournament-opening loss to win the World Cup.

[ MORE: Lichaj moves to Hull ]

Fabregas then touched on Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup, saying credit due to his four goals but also questioning how impressed anyone should be with three goals from set pieces and a fourth from a David De Gea gaffe.

You cannot say that he and Portugal have shown great combinations or tiki-taka football to score great goals.

You have to give him credit, of course, but his goals have come from set-pieces, penalties or mistakes.

Seems a bit of anti-Real Madrid carryover there, although the sentiment is real (Portugal has not been impressive despite its four points).

Fabregas then went on to highlight one particular performance in the tournament: Mexico and LAFC midfielder Carlos Vela’s work in El Tri‘s upset of Germany.

Vela left Real Sociedad to join Los Angeles FC at the start of the year and people seem to think that when you go to the MLS, or that type of league, your level drops.

That was not the case when he played against Germany, because Kroos could not shake him off. He tried but he could not influence the game.

See, Cesc: You can totally come to our shores and run point for a team. Toronto is really close to me, if you’re asking, but Philly, Columbus, and New York are reasonable enough drives.