SportsClub selects the World Cup team of round three as PSG stars Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar steal the show, writes DEAN WORKMAN.
Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark)
The Leicester City goalkeeper was Denmark’s star as they pushed the much fancied Croatia all the way in their last-16 clash. Schmeichel was on hand to deny Croatia throughout the game, even saving a late extra-time penalty to ensure his team had a chance in a penalty shoot-out. The Danish keeper pulled off another two saves in the shoot-out but unfortunately, it was not enough, as Croatia progressed to the quarter-finals. Schmeichel may have been on the losing end, but still deserves his spot in the team of the round.
Right back: Mario Fernandes (Russia)
The Russian right back was solid throughout as he helped take his team all the way to penalties, where they eventually knocked out 2010 champions Spain. Fernandes offered a defensive stability and discipline as he helped organise his side throughout the match.
Centre back: Yerry Mina (Colombia)
For the second time in this World Cup, Mina put in an accomplished performance to earn himself a spot in the team of the round. The young Barcelona man was a rock at the back for Colombia against England as he not only did well to keep Harry Kane quiet but was also a threat in both boxes. The defender did well to deal with the potent England threat from set plays, while he got forward to leap highest and score a last-minute equaliser to give his side a lifeline in the competition.
Centre back: Diego Godin (Uruguay)
Widely regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation, Godin showed he still has a lot left in the tank with a star showing against Portugal in his team’s 2-1 win. Godin was a general at the back, shouting commands and organising his team throughout as they produced a defensive masterclass to get past Portugal and book a place in the quarter-finals.
Left back: Diego Laxalt (Uruguay)
The Genoa man was another one of the contributors to Uruguay’s win over Portugal. Laxalt was defensively sound while also offering a threat on the counter and overlaps throughout.
Right centre midfield: Shinji Kagawa (Japan)
The former Manchester United man may have suffered a 3-2 loss to Belgium, but he put in an accomplished performance. Kagawa offered the link between defence and attack for Japan, with most of their attacking threat coming through the Borussia Dortmund man. The midfielder provided the assist for his the opener, while he also came close to putting his name on the score sheet.
Centre midfield: Paul Pogba (France)
The Manchester United midfielder played an important role in France’s 4-3 win over Argentina. Pogba helped control the midfield, breaking down play and starting attacks in a performance which would have silenced many of the doubters.
Left centre midfield: Emil Forsberg (Sweden)
Forsberg was the difference in the tactical game of chess between Sweden and Switzerland, as his goal fired the Swedish side into the quarter-finals. Forsberg was Sweden’s creative influence and looked the most likely to break down the stubborn Swiss defence before his deflected strike left Jan Sommer with little chance in the Switzerland goal.
Right forward: Kylian Mbappe (France)
Mbappe set the World Cup alight with a stunning performance against Argentina. The Paris Saint-Germin forward was electric going forward with the Argentine defence unable to handle the young strikers pace. This was evident when Mbappe won the penalty for his side’s opener before scoring two goals in four minutes, making him the first teenager to score more than once in a World Cup tournament since Michael Owen in 1998.
Striker: Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
The Paris Saint-Germain striker was Uruguay’s star man in their 2-1 win over Portugal. Cavani worked tirelessly with his strike partner Luis Suarez to defend from the front and not allow Portugal a second’s rest at the back. Cavani combined this work rate with an end product as he brilliantly linked up with Suarez before dispatching a back-post header to give his side the lead. Portugal hit back to equalise before a stunning curling strike from Cavani found the top corner to book his side a spot in the last eight and earn him a spot in the team of the round.
Left forward: Neymar (Brazil)
While Neymar’s off-the-ball antics and play acting have captured the majority of the headlines, his actual performance against Mexico was to be admired. The Brazilian was a threat before he unlocked the Mexican defence, getting on the end of a Willian cross to open the scoring. He then put the result beyond doubt by setting up Roberto Firmino to tap home and send the Brazilians into the quarter-finals.
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