Opinion: World Cup stars and busts after the end of group stage play

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Jacob Adams


Forward: “Chucky” Lozano, Mexico.

The 22-year old PSV player had a lot of hype coming into the World Cup, and now reports say that F.C. Barcelona are calling for him. His lone goal was the decider in the upset win versus Germany. While his scoring ability and dribbling are what most people talk about, his workrate is unmatched. After his goal, he helped defend and got back to keep the Germans out of rhythm. He arguably stopped a clear South Korean goal, as he ran across the penalty box and cleared a cross. Wherever he goes during this summer’s transfer window, that team will have a player with huge upside.

Forward: Harry Kane, England.

Harry Kane is already a well-known player, a borderline star; however, he has been the heartbeat of this English side. He won their opening match against Tunisia with his two goals, including his goal in stoppage time that gave England three points. Then, he snagged a hatrick in the massacre versus Panama. Kane is only 24-years old with a long career ahead of him. Will he stick to the Tottenham Spurs? It’s hard to say, but I can see bigger clubs approaching him soon.

Defender: Andreas Christensen, Denmark.

Denmark have been a tough matchup for opponents on the defensive front, only giving up one goal from a penalty, and holding France to no goals. It’s an impressive feat, and Christensen has been a large part of that. The Chelsea center back will look to find more playing with the EPL giants, or else he may be walking out the door. At 22-years old, many teams will be beckoning to get the young center back with high upside.


Japan came into this World Cup with one of the oldest teams, and the veterans have carried them to the knockout stage. Kagawa, Honda, and Inui may seem like names of the past, but the trio have combined for impressive performances. Honda has a goal and an assist with less than 90 combined minutes played, an incredible feat. Even though they went through the tournament on the “Fair Play” rule, which means they got less yellow cards than Senegal, credit is still due. The celebration may be coming to an end, though, as their shaky defense faces a tough test versus Belgium.



Forward: Ousmane Dembélé, France.

It has been a mixed group stage performance from the French. While they finished at the top of their group, it was not in the most impressive way. Dembele wasn’t the cause for this, but more is to be expected from the Barcelona winger. His performances have been selfish, he has been going for the world class strike versus just crossing the ball in or passing back. If he wants to keep playing, he needs to improve, especially with the talent in the forward position for France.

Team Germany:

The Germans fell into the trap of previous World Cup champions being eliminated in the group stage the following World Cup. I believe this trend has to do with teams wanting to knock down the champions and, of course, a cocky attitude from the winners. Germany would carry possession high up the pitch, then their broken defense would get burned on the counter attack. It’s how Mexico beat them, how Sweden almost captured a point, and how South Korea knocked them out of the tournament. Joachim Löw may have seen the end of the days coaching the previous World Champs; however, he should be remembered for the trophies won under his reign and not this embarrassing exit.

Argentina (In General):

I have never seen a team with so many attacking options not produce goals. On top of the world class finishers they have, they also have the first or second best player in the world (depending on who you ask). Messi’s penalty miss was a big hit to team moral, since he single handedly got them to the World Cup. The goalkeeping and defense has been woeful, as well. This team clearly misses their starter, Sergio Romero. Otamendi has also been a disappointment, and when he’s playing bad, it’s a red card waiting to happen. His composure is a big liability for this Argentina team.

The Argentina federation has basically fired their coach — in the middle of the biggest tournament in the world — and the team chemistry is horrible. Just a complete mess from the previous World Cup runner-ups. However, they did limp into the knockout stage, and sent Diego Maradona into a roller coaster of emotions. Maradona went from dancing with Nigerian female fans in the press box, to flashing them the middle finger, and finally being carried out by EMTs. What a night. Argentina has been extremely disappointing, but never count out a team that has Messi, Aguero, DiMaria and Higuain, amongst many others.

 Jacob Adams is an opinion columnist. Reach him at [email protected]