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Top 20 players of the World Cup group stage

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Well this isn’t easy, Mr. Editor…

The World Cup group stage is complete, and we saw some outstanding performances from players in Russia.

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Harry Kane scored five, one more than Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo. Philippe Coutinho looked like the player Barcelona spent a whole lot of dough for, and Keylor Navas shone in defeat.

But what about the lesser known names? Aleksandr Golovin went from being linked with mid-table Premier League teams to the wish lists of the globe’s top sides. And Hirving “Chucky” Lozano delivered on his next big El Tri thing promise.

It’s safe to say many of these names will make our 20, but we still had a starting point of 33 names even with judicious trimming.

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Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri celebrates one of his two goals and two assists at the World Cup (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

20. Wahbi Khazri, Tunisia

19. Luka Modric, Croatia

18. Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland

17. Yerry Mina, Colombia

16. Kasper Schmeichel, Denmark

15. Viktor Claesson, Sweden

14. Lionel Messi, Argentina

13. Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium

12. Carlos Salcedo, Mexico

(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

11. Neymar, Brazil — 5.3 shots per game and a thrilling performance should have him in the Top Three, but his shameful dive zips him back to here at a minimum. Maybe next round, Ney.

10. Ivan Rakitic, Croatia

9. Philippe Coutinho, Brazil

8. Aleksandr Golovin, Russia

7. Jose Gimenez, Uruguay

6. N'Golo Kante, France

5. Eden Hazard, Belgium

4. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal

3. Isco, Spain

2. Harry Kane, England

1. Romelu Lukaku, Belgium

Honorable mention: Wilfred Ndidi, Nigeria; Gen Shoji, Japan; Kieran Trippier, England; Casemiro, Brazil; Thiago Silva, Brazil; Toni Kroos, Germany; Artem Dzyuba, Russia; Hirving Lozano, Mexico; Diego Costa, Spain; Luis Suarez, Uruguay; Diego Godin, Uruguay; Andreas Grandqvist, Sweden; Sardar Azmoun, Iran; Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia; David Ospina, Colombia; Cho Hyun-Woo, South Korea; Mohamed Salah, Egypt; Edgar Barcenas, Panama; Grzegorz Krychowiak, Poland; Aaron Mooy, Australia; Kendall Waston, Costa Rica; Salem Al Dawsari, Saudi Arabia; Amine Harit, Morocco; Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland; Luis Advincula, Peru; M’Baye Niang, Senegal.

Group C wide open as Denmark, Australia settle for draw

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Denmark and Australia settled for a 1-1 draw on Thursday, as this exciting Group C affair had nothing to separate the two nations at the end of 90 minutes.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

As it stands, the Danes lead the group with four points, while Australia earned its first point of the World Cup.

France will meet Peru later on Thursday, with Les Bleus having won its first match and Peru having suffered defeat to Denmark.

The Danes broke through after seven minutes when Nicolai Jørgensen picked out a perfect back-heel pass to Christian Eriksen at the top of the box, before the Tottenham Hotspur attacker volleyed home for a 1-0 lead.

Jørgensen nearly doubled the Denmark advantage in the 24th minute when the 27-year-old had an open header from close range that skewed just wide of the target.

Australia worked its way into the match following the opener, and were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute after VAR Mark Geiger altered an initial decision for a handball inside the box.

Mile Jedinak converted the spot kick to level the match at 1-1, giving the Socceroos life.

A dangerous free kick four minutes later almost gave Denmark the lead once again, however, Eriksen couldn’t get a crucial touch on the ball to knock it over the goal line before Ryan collected.

The second half continued with lightning pace from both sides, and Aaron Mooy‘s 71st minute blast came inches away from giving Australia an improbable lead.

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

The two nations will conclude Group C play on June 26, as Denmark faces France and Australia takes on CONMEBOL side Peru.

Two pens and Pogba: France nips Australia as VAR debuts

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  • France goals: Griezmann (58′), Pogba (80′)
  • Australia goal: Jedinak (62′)
  • Next: Australia-Denmark, France-Peru

Two penalties and an own goal was not how France and Australia wanted their World Cup openers to go, but Les Bleus will take the 2-1 result on Saturday in Kazan.

Aziz Behich’s possible own goal was prodded by Paul Pogba, while Antoine Griezmann scored a PK awarded via Video Assistant Referee and Australia’s Mile Jedinak also buried a penalty.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Australia came close to a surprise lead off a 19th minute free kick, as Hugo Lloris had to act quickly to slap Corentin Tolisso’s potential own goal away from the France frame.

The first half hour largely belonged to France despite the Socceroos clear desire to disrupt the flow of the match with physical play.

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

It didn’t take long into the second half for the World Cup to turn in its VAR card, with Antoine Griezmann’s controversially-won penalty given via video.

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The Socceroos earned their chance to level when Aaron Mooy‘s free kick was handled by Samuel Umtiti in the box.

Jedinak’s converted penalty was Australia’s first shot on target of the match, and came from a player who was questionable to participate in the opener thanks to an injury.

The video helped Pogba prod the winning, or losing, goal out of Behich with the ball turning off the cross bar and just crossing the line with 10 minutes to play.

World Cup, Group C preview: France, Australia, Denmark, Peru

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France: Following a slim quarterfinal loss to Germany in the 2014 tournament, France looks to take the next step behind one of the deepest squads in the world. Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba are among those pushing the attack while N'Golo Kante helps anything coming back the other way. Favorites to win the group comfortably, and perhaps the World Cup as well. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Australia: Solid in midfield with Aaron Mooy and Mile Jedinak and dangerous enough in attack, can the Socceroos limit the danger coming the way of star keeper Mat Ryan of Brighton and Hove Albion? If they do, perhaps a surprising run to second is possible. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Peru: Their captain’s suspension overturned, one of the most anonymous Top Ten teams in recent memory (Elo Ratings) looks to make a major statement in its first World Cup since the 1970s. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Denmark: Christian Eriksen is the unquestioned focal point of the Danish team, and will enter the tournament with hopes of results against Peru and Australia which deem the finale versus France dead rubber. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

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


Who’s going through: France and Peru.

 [ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Who’s going home: Denmark and Australia.

Marquee match: France versus Peru, June 21 in Yekaterinburg

Top 5 players to watch
1) N’Golo Kante — France
2) Antoine Griezmann — France
3) Paul Pogba — France
4) Christian Eriksen — Denmark
5) Samuel Umtiti — France

Which Premier League players will be at World Cup?

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There are 107 players from the Premier League who are going to the 2018 World Cup.

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Manchester City have more players going to the tournament (16) than any other club in the world, while the English national team are the only country in the entire competition to have 100 percent of their players from their domestic league.

Belgium have an incredible 11 of their 23-man squad who play in the Premier League, while Senegal and Brazil have six players each from the PL and Argentina, Denmark and France boast five players each in their final rosters.

Below is a breakdown of the PL players heading to Russia this summer, with players from recently relegated teams in 2017/18 and teams coming up to the PL in 2018/19 included.

Here’s a country-by-country breakdown.


Argentina
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United)
Marcos Rojo (Manchester United)
Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Willy Caballero (Chelsea)


Australia
Mat Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town)


Belgium
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur)
Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion)


Brazil
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Danilo (Manchester City)
Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Willian (Chelsea)
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Ederson (Manchester City)


Colombia
David Opsina (Arsenal)
Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur)


Croatia
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)


Denmark
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield Town)
Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield Town)


England
Jack Butland (Stoke City)
Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Nick Pope (Burnley)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
Phil Jones (Manchester United)
John Stones (Manchester City)
Harry Maguire (Leicester City)
Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur)
Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Fabian Delph (Manchester City)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea, on loan at Crystal Palace)
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)


Egypt
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal)


France
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City)


Germany
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)


Iceland
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley)


Japan
Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
Shinji Kagawa (Leicester City)


Korea Republic
Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)
Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea City)


Mexico
Javier Hernandez (Mexico)


Morocco
Roman Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers)


Nigeria
Wifried Ndidi (Leicester City)
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
Victor Moses (Chelsea)
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal)


Peru
Andre Carrillo (Watford)


Poland
Jan Bednarek (Southampton)
Grzegorz Krychowiak (West Brom, on loan from PSG)
Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City)


Portugal
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
Joao Mario (West Ham United, on loan from Inter Milan)
Cedric Soares (Southampton)
Adrien Silva (Leicester City)


Serbia
Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace)
Nemanja Matic (Manchester United)
Dusan Tadic (Southampton)
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United, on loan at Fulham)


Senegal
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Idrissa Gueye (Everton)
Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United)
Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City)
Alfred N'Diaye (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Badou Ndiaye (Stoke City)


Spain
David De Gea (Manchester United)
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
David Silva (Manchester City)


Sweden
Victor Lindelof (Manchester United)
Martin Olsson (Swansea City)
Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea City)


Switzerland
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)


Tunisia
Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City)