World Cup: Combined XI best from round 16

ID : N-2239 Date : 2018/07/05 - 09:51

(Persia Digest) - Sportskeeda reports that one of the best World Cup tournaments ever somehow continues to get even better. With the defending champions Germany eliminated in the group stage, 16 teams continued on their quest to inherit the tag of World Champions.

As we have witnessed so far in this tournament, no team was going to give away the opportunity to progress further without putting up a fight. This made for some cracking encounters in the World Cup round of 16.Goals in every game mean that the group stage game between France and Denmark continues to be the only goalless tie of the tournament. Only one encounter was decided by more than one goal, Brazil's 2-0 win against Mexico. Three matches went the distance and were decided on penalties. There were some underdog victories as well with the biggest one being the elimination of 2010 champions Spain by hosts Russia.

Aforementioned Brazil and Russia made it through along with France, Uruguay, Croatia, Belgium, Sweden and England to set up some mouth-watering quarterfinal clashes. We look at the best individual performers in the first knockout round in a 4-3-3 formation:

Goalkeeper: Igor Akinfeev (Russia)

The Russian captain produced a heroic performance and his country beat the odds to progress against the much-favoured Spaniards. His man-of-the-match performance included 2 magnificent saves in the penalty shootout denying Koke and Iago Aspas.

There was nothing the 32-year-old could do about the own goal that his side conceded. He saved whatever else Spain threw at him over the course of the game. He registered nine saves over 120 minutes though very few really troubled him as Spain spent the game passing the ball around to little effect. Akinfeev then upstaged his much-fancied opposite number David de Gea in the penalty shootout to see his team though.

Right-back: Kieran Trippier (England)

he Tottenham man had a magnificent outing for England in their win against South American opponents Colombia. Trippier dominated his flank showing wonderful pace when going forward and tracking back.

He was solid in defense and provided a threat going forward with some wonderful link-up play and crosses while also looking to get on the end of crosses coming in from the opposite flank. Trippier was always assured on the ball and ran his socks off for the entire match. In the end he capped a brilliant performance by slotting home his penalty in the shootout.

Center-back: Ilya Kutepov (Russia)

 you watched the Russia vs Spain match, you may have lost count of the number of times that a Spanish attack ended at the feet (or head) of Kutepov. The fact that he seemed to be everywhere at the right time sees him take his place at the heart of this XI ahead of other brilliant defensive performers.

The 24-year-old who plays his club football with Spartak Moscow produced the kind of performance that makes the big clubs sit up and take note. Kutepov was solid in defence making several clearances and blocking the route to goal. He did all of this despite playing a portion of the second half and extra-time with cramp. Impressive.

Center-back: Yerry Mina (Colombia)

The only player on this list not to go through to the quarterfinals, Mina's performance for Colombia against England was undeserving of defeat. The tall and physical defender imposed himself on the match displaying wonderful composure alongside Davinson Sanchez at the heart of the Colombian defence.

Mina was dominant in the air and comfortable with the ball at his feet while demonstrating wonderful reading of the game. His last-gasp headed equalizer deep into stoppage time was his third goal of a fantastic tournament and fully deserved.

Strongly linked with a move away from Barcelona for whom he has made a handful of appearances, Mina may have seen an increase in the number of suitors after his World Cup displays. Barca though may be wise to ensure the 23-year-old remains at the Camp Nou.

Left-back: Diego Laxalt (Uruguay)

Laxalt, who plays his club football for Genoa in Italy as a midfielder was the standout performer in an Uruguayan back-line that kept Cristiano Ronaldo and co at bay during their round of 16 encounter.

Laxalt may have been a bit careless with his passing but his determination and tenacity in winning the ball back meant that no attack of note came down his side of the field. He displayed good positional awareness, wonderful pace and physicality in dealing with the Portuguese attackers. A hardworking and assured performance by the 25-year-old in the end.

Defensive midfielder: N'Golo Kante (France)

It may have gone unnoticed by many but Kante is having an impressive World Cup. Then again, consistent high-level performances are what we have come to expect from the Chelsea man that it is sometimes taken for granted.

The tireless Kante was all over Lionel Messi when he dropped deep and the Argentine midfield. Seems to be everywhere all the time putting in tackles and interceptions getting three of each in that match. He was calm and composed with the ball picking out his teammates and even occasionally managed to go on some driving runs down the middle. Kante continues to be a key player in France's World Cup aspirations.

Central midfielder: Ivan Rakitic (Croatia)

The Barcelona man has formed one of the most formidable midfield partnerships at the World Cup with Real Madrid man Luka Modric. Alongside his captain, Rakitic did a bit of everything in Croatia's win over Denmark.

He sprayed passes all over the pitch completing seven accurate long balls. He also mastered two key passes, two dribbles, two tackles and went close with a couple of shots. Rakitic was in the thick of the action throughout the entire contest. Topped off a brilliant performance by scoring the winning penalty in the shootout.

Attacking midfield: Willian (Brazil)

For the purposes of our lineup, Willian lines up in an attacking midfield role with the system allowing him to drift out wide. With that being said, it was impossible to leave out the Chelsea man as he put in a man-of-the-match display as the Brazilians overcame a stubborn Mexican side.

After a couple of lacklustre showings in Russia, Willian finally burst to life especially in the second half of the encounter completing seven dribbles and three key passes one of which was the assist for Neymar's goal. He tormented the Mexicans pushing Brazil all the way into the quarterfinals.

Left Forward: Neymar (Brazil)

Putting aside his theatrical antics, the Brazilian superstar was brilliant in the game against Mexico. Neymar showed flashes of brilliance on the ball and was always looking to put Brazil on the front foot.

He was not afraid to shoot at goal hitting the target four times while he also created 5 chances. His influence was felt throughout and he put his stamp on the encounter scoring Brazil's first goal and making the second. If only he can let the headlines be about his football at the end of matches.

Right Forward: Kylian Mbappe (France)

In an encounter that seemed symbolic of the passing of the torch, Kylian Mbappe lit up the World Cup in what was likely the final World Cup game for the great Lionel Messi. The French youngster showed no signs of nerves or naivety as he tore the Argentine defence to shreds scoring twice and winning a penalty.

Still only 19, Mbappe displayed pace, power, intelligence and composure in a memorable display. He dazzled Argentina with an outstanding seven dribbles in the match while being a constant threat. The brightest spark in this incredible, young French team, it would be hard to bet against France going all the way and Mbappe stealing the show once more.

Striker: Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)

Completing an all-PSG front line is Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani. After a couple of poor showings during the tournament, Cavani finally showed up for Uruguay, and he did so in a big way. Much of the pre-game talk centred around Luis Suarez and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo yet it was Cavani who stole the headlines in the end.

The striker was lethal in front of goal grabbing both of Uruguay's goals including a sensational curling finish for his second. His was an all-round display as he was always a willing runner providing an outlet when Uruguay were subdued. He also impressed with his willingness to defend winning three tackles.

Uruguay will be hoping that the injury that led to him leaving the match prematurely does not keep him out of the quarterfinal showdown against France.

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