FourFourTwoSA selects the World Cup team of round three as Lionel Messi and Neymar finally make their mark, writes DEAN WORKMAN.
Goalkeeper: Hyun-Woo Choo (South Korea)
The South Korean keeper, nicknamed De Gea, put in a memorable performance as his side produced a historic World Cup performance to beat Germany 2-0. Choo pulled off a number of crucial saves while remaining a calming influence on his backline throughout.
Right back: Martin Caceres (Uruguay)
The Lazio defender put in an accomplished performance as his side comfortably beat the hosts 3-0 to top Group A. Caceres performed valiantly in defence, not allowing the Russia attackers an inch, while also providing an attacking threat down the right.
Centre back: Marcos Rojo (Argentina)
The Manchester United man made all the headlines as his stunning late winner secured progression for Argentina, knocking out Nigeria in the process. Rojo provided a defensive stability which lacked in his side’s previous game, while also expertly taking his chance to give his side the three points.
Centre back: Yerry Mina (Colombia)
For the second time in two game weeks, Mina makes the World Cup team of the round. The Barcelona defender was composed in possession, rock solid at the back and was a constant threat. Mina, for the second week, rose highest from a set piece to net what turned out to be the winner for his side.
Left back: Ludwig Augustinsson (Sweden)
The Swedish left back put in a standout performance in his side’s historical 3-0 win over Mexico, which secured Sweden’s progression to the knockout stages ahead of defending World Cup champions Germany. Augustinsson brilliantly marshalled the left flank and got forward to great effect as he scored the opener for his side.
Right centre midfield: Eva Benega (Argentina)
The Sevilla man may have missed Argentina’s loss to Croatia but was reinstated in the starting XI for the game against Nigeria. Benega produced an accomplished performance, showing off his ball-playing capabilities, as he brilliantly put through Messi for his side’s opener. The midfielder added a composure to the Argentinian midfield, which had been sorely missing against Croatia.
Centre midfield: Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)
The Barcelona man has had a fantastic start to the tournament in Russia and continued that trend with yet another standout performance. Coutinho proved a constant threat for Serbia as his guile and creativity threatened to unlock their defence at any moment. Eventually, the pressure came off as Coutinho’s beautiful pass saw Paulinho give his side the all-important lead.
Left centre midfield: Milan Badelj (Croatia)
He may not be guaranteed a starting spot in the Croatian midfield, but Badelj did all in his power to convince Zlatko Dalic otherwise by putting in an impressive showing against Iceland. The midfielder opened the scoring for his side in the first half and then provided the assist to Ivan Perisic’s late winner.
Right forward: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Finally, Messi has made his mark in Russia. After two subdued performances, the Barcelona man stepped up to help secure progression for his side. The Argentina captain opened the scoring with a brilliantly taken goal and remained a constant threat throughout, ensuring that the Nigerians paid him extra attention.
Striker: Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
The Barcelona striker helped guide his side to a 3-0 win over hosts Russia to secure top spot in Group A. Suarez opened the scoring early on in the game with a smartly taken free kick which helped set the tone for the day. Suarez constantly harried and pressed the Russia defenders while also remaining a constant goal-scoring threat.
Left wing: Neymar (Brazil)
The Brazilian superstar may not have scored against Serbia in his side’s 2-0 win, but did manage to grab an assist, while he also constantly worried the Serbian defence. Neymar would have certainly had his name on the scoresheet if it weren’t for some brilliant goalkeeping by Vladamir Stojkovic, but his flair, skill and attacking intent see him make this team of the round.
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