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World Cup Most Disappointing XI players

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With the final around the corner, we here at ProSoccerTalk already put together a list of our World Cup Team of the Tournament. With stars like Luka Modric, Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, and K’Golo Kante headlining the list of players performing at the highest level on the biggest stage, the summer has no doubt proven as exciting as ever.

[ MORE: PST Writers pick their World Cup Best XI ]

However, there’s always another side of the coin. Many top teams disappointed heavily this summer, and with that comes poor individual performances from those expected to have a major impact. This summer has seen players who may have slipped from stardom to obscurity due to age or poor form. So who was the most disappointing? Some of us here put together a starting lineup of players who have underwhelmed compared to expectations.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Teams such as Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina are heavily represented, as are other European nations like Denmark, Switzerland, and Poland who would have expected to perform better given their lofty FIFA rankings. Finally, the African nations will be disappointed to not reach the knockout phase, and make an appearance as a result.


Without further ado, here are some of our Disappointing Teams of the Tournament:

Kyle Bonn (4-3-3 formation)

GK: David De Gea (Spain)
DF: Alba (Spain), Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina), Gerard Pique (Spain), Lukasz Piszczek (Poland)
MF: Sami Khedira (Germany), Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Javier Mascherano (Argentina)
FW: Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Thomas Muller (Germany)

Matt Reed (3-4-3 formation)

GK: David de Gea
DF: Joshua Kimmich (Germany), Nicolas Otamendi, Gerard Pique
MF: Bernardo Silva (Portugal), Javier Mascherano, Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Mesut Ozil (Germany)
FW: Gabriel Jesus, Timo Werner (Germany), Robert Lewandowski

Daniel Karell (3-4-3 formation)

GK: David de Gea
DF: Gerard Pique, Nicolas Otamendi, Mats Hummels (Germany)
MF: Marco Reus (Germany), Javier Mascherano, Antoine Griezmann (France), Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
FW: Neymar (Brazil), Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Nicholas Mendola (4-3-3 formation)

GK: David De Gea (Spain)
DF: Jerome Boateng (Germany), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Sergio Ramos (Spain)
MF: Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Sergej Malinkovic-Savic (Serbia), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Bernardo Silva (Portugal)
FW: Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Timo Werner (Germany), Raheem Sterling (England)


The goalkeeper is a consensus pick in Manchester United’s David de Gea, who has won countless awards in the Premier League over the last few seasons with the Red Devils and has been linked for years with a move to Manchester United. His exploits in Russia this summer, however, were far from the standards he has set for himself in England.

In defense, there are also a pair of consensus picks in Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi and Spain’s Gerard Pique. Otamendi was fabulous for Manchester City in their runaway title chase this past season, while Pique has been one of the best defenders in the world for years with Barcelona. Neither was up to their usual standards as both teams proved leaky at the back. Also appearing is Germany’s Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich, who both failed to meet expectations in a wildly disappointing group stage exit.

In the middle of the pitch, Javier Mascherano is a consensus pick, with the 31-year-old starting each and every game of the Argentina’s World Cup yet failing to cover the back line effectively at an advanced age. Jorge Sampaoli’s faith in him proved to be a big reason for Argentina’s early exit. Germany’s Sami Khedira suffered a similar fate, although at least Jogi Low had the sense to bench him quickly. Others appearing here include disappointing attackers Christian Eriksen, Mesut Ozil, and Alex Iwobi. Eriksen was consistently double-teamed with Denmark offering little else up front, and they were left unable to threaten opposing defenses with any regularity. Ozil has been criticized often over the years at Arsenal, and he failed to provide much for Germany in creativity. Iwobi is a youngster who had been pegged as a potential breakout star at the World Cup, but he failed to deliver and the African teams left much on the table. Even Antoine Griezmann, who some have labeled a potential Golden Ball candidate, makes an appearance as the Frenchman has often struggled with the final ball up front and he occasionally appears unable to operate on the same page as his teammates.

Finally, up front brings us consensus pick Robert Lewandowski, who yet again failed to come up clutch on the big stage. He has gone missing recently in big European games for Bayern Munich, and he was unable to engineer anything special at the head of the attack for 8th ranked team in the world. Brazil youngster Gabriel Jesus makes a pair of appearances, having disappointed mightily up front for Brazil playing the central striker role. There were louder and louder calls to start Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino in his place as the tournament went on, but those fell on deaf ears with manager Tite. Germany’s pair of Thomas Muller and Timo Werner represent other disappointments, with the hero of the 2014 World Cup final and the country’s young new talisman both putting forth forgettable performances. And finally, yes, Argentina superstar Lionel Messi makes the cut. While many claim his team weighed him down, there is no debating Messi’s tournament was one to forget. Altogether, the six strikers that appear here combined for just one goal in the entire tournament, from Messi.

Akinfeev, Russia knock Spain out of World Cup

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Igor Akinfeev made an unbelievable stop on Iago Aspas to end a riveting round of penalty kicks as Russia eliminated Spain from the World Cup on Sunday.

A Russian own goal was equalized when Artem Dzyuba scored a 42nd minute penalty, but Spain could not break down Russia over 120 minutes.

Akinfeev, who struggled in the 2014 World Cup, made nine saves in regulation and stopped penalties from Isco and Aspas as David De Gea couldn’t get to any of Russia’s four finishes.

Russia will face the winner of Denmark or Croatia in the quarterfinal.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Spain went ahead on the own goal, as a Nacho-won free kick from the right bounded off the back of Sergei Ignashevich’s right calf during a tussle with Sergio Ramos in the 12th minute.

La Furia Roja wasn’t scared off by the slow start, and Aleksandr Golovin kept up a fine World Cup with a give-and-go that ended with a curling shot just wide of the far post.

Russia would get its chance to make it 1-1 when Dzyuba headed a corner back across goal and off the raised hand of Gerard Pique. He finished his chance.

The Russian crowd continued to get behind its men, who closed up shop in a bus-parking that would make Tony Pulis crowd. Andres Iniesta broke through the lines, but his pass was turned wide of the goal.

Not much shame in that, but the hosts could not find the clinical finishing required to get a goal in regulation.

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Spain continued its possession and control in the first period of stoppage time, with Marco Asensio forcing Igor Akinfeev into a save.

Akinfeev has had a redemptive tournament after a rough 2014 World Cup saw him spill a South Korean goal into his net, and he made several stops as the match moved toward penalty kicks.

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Akinfeev stopped Isco on Spain’s third chance and made an unreal stop on Iago Aspas’ bid to force Russia to a fifth kick.

Spain coach Hierro backs de Gea

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Fernando Hierro has made it clear who he thinks will be starting in goal for La Furia Roja.

The interim Spanish National Team coach shut down rumors and whispers that he was considering a goalkeeper change for the knockout stage of the World Cup, saying in an interview on Spanish station RNE that David De Gea will start the next match against Russia. De Gea has made some uncharacteristic errors during the tournament, including on Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal in Spain’s wild 3-3 draw with Portugal in the opening match of Group B.

[ MORE: 2018 World Cup Best XI (so far)]

“Yes, he will play,” Hierro said, referring to De Gea.

De Gea also allowed two goals to Morocco, which saw Spain rescue a point in second half stoppage time thanks to Iago Aspas.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The 27-year-old de Gea has been in sparkling form in the past for both Spain and Manchester United, but there were whispers after his performance in the group stage that he could have been replaced by Kepa Arrizabalaga or Pepe Reina.

Now, it seems that Hierro trusts in de Gea, which could bode well for the future for both Spain and Man United.

Manchester United reportedly set to add Lee Grant to GK corps

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Is Manchester United set to add Lee Grant as a third goalkeeper behind David De Gea and Sergio Romero?

That’s the report from The Telegraph, which says Jose Mourinho likes the idea of the 35-year-old goalkeeper as his safety net.

[ MORE: Rooney to DC this week ]

Romero missed the World Cup through injury, and has tossed aside rumors that he was angling for an Old Trafford exit.

Grant was most recently with Stoke City, where he started 31 Premier League matches. Twenty-eight of those came in 2016-17.

He also has spent significant time with Derby County (two stints), Burnley, and Sheffield Wednesday.

Grant represented England at all youth levels between 15 and 21, though that time was long ago.

Spain draw Morocco, win Group B in dizzying final five minutes

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Spain survived a near-disaster scenario, which could have seen them eliminated from the 2018 World Cup (pending result elsewhere), but still struggled en route to a 2-2 draw with Morocco in Kaliningrad, Russia, on Monday.

From start to finish, it was a muddled mess of a performance for Fernando Hierro’s side. And yet, rather than facing Uruguay, who clinched Group A with a 3-0 victory over Russia earlier in the day, Fernando Hierro’s side finishes top of Group B (based on goals scored) and will face the hosts in the round of 16. More importantly, they’ll (likely) avoid the likes of Brazil, France and Germany in their half of the knockout bracket.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Khalid Boutaib, Isco, Youssef En-Nesyri and Iago Aspas scored the goals, in that order, as Spain scraped their way to a 1W-2D-0L record in the group stage.

The scoring opened in perhaps the most unlikely way imaginable: a giveaway by Andres Iniesta, though plenty of blame could be given to Sergio Ramos as well, and an easy breakaway for Boutaib, who raced in on goal and slid the ball between David De Gea‘s legs to make it 1-0 (WATCH HERE).

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Morocco’s lead didn’t last long, though, as Iniesta atoned for his earlier error, with a little help of some silky operators wearing red. A quick passing sequence down the left side of the penalty area freed Iniesta to play the simple, but perfectly timed, ball to Isco for a close-range finish. (WATCH HERE)

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The second half’s first great scoring chance came in the 55th minute, and it nearly put Spain behind again. Nordin Amrabat unleashed a powerful, right-footed strike from the corner of the penalty area, leaving De Gea completely helpless in goal, but the Watford man was denied by the 90-degree angle where the crossbar meets post. Another wake-up call for the 2010 World Cup winners, but a massive let-off in the end.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

En-Nesyri headed home the would-be winner from Faycal Fajr’s corner kick in the 81st minute, seconds after Gerard Pique was perhaps suspected of having committed a handball offense inside the penalty area.

It wasn’t the last bit of drama, though, as Aspas flicked home the equalizer in the 90th minute. He was initially ruled offside by the assistant referee, but a video review indicated he was perfectly level when the ball was crossed into the box.