Remember the name! Four underrated performers at FIFA World Cup

While Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Iniesta are the usual suspects when it comes to expectations of being the hero, others have put their hands up even when the superstars of teams have failed this time

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Vikrant Jha

FIFA World Cup 2018 has, so far, been, to say the least, a tournament which has produced major upsets already. From four-time champions and the cup-holders Germany getting out of the group stage, to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both missing a penalty, the World Cup has produced miraculously unexpected outcomes.

When the world glued their eyes to watch the Ronaldos, the Messis and the Neymars to amaze one and all with their highly destructive skills, it has been some lesser known players than them who have actually lit this World Cup. Definitely, Ronaldo comfortably led his side to the round of sixteen and Messi did it when his team needed the most against Nigeria, yet the show has been stolen by those who are yet to make a name at the global stage. Here are some showstoppers from this World Cup so far:

Luka Modric for Croatia

Having tied against Iceland in their opening encounter, Lionel Messi-led Argentina were desperate for a win against Croatia in the next match. But when the world expected Messi to score a stunner, it was Mordic who stunned with a fantabulous goal, which almost put Argentina on the brink of a group-stage departure. The goal was special because Croatia were already leading by a goal and it was Argentina who were pressing to equalise. Against the run of play, Modric found himself with the ball right outside the Argentine penalty area. But he had arguably the best Argentina defender in the World Cup, Nicolas Otamedni for company. However, the Croatian midfielder beat Otamendi not once but twice and fired a shot in from considerable distance to score one of the best goals so far in the tournament. In the match before, the 32-year-old converted from the spot to lead Croatia to a 2-0 victory against Nigeria and followed his heroics against Argentina with a good match against Iceland. His combination with Ivan Rakitic has been hailed as the “best-midfield” in this World Cup by experts as even Jose Mourinho termed the Croatian mid-filed the “best in the World”.

Coutinho for Brazil

If it is one man who has held the Brazilian ship in 2018, it has not been Neymar but Coutinho. From scoring the goal in the added time against Costa Rica when the game looked settled for a draw to providing a pin-point cross to his Barcelona team-mate Paulinho against Serbia to give Brazil the much-needed breakthrough, Coutinho has put his hands up every time Brazil needed one of its superstars to. In the drawn contest against Switzerland as well, it was Coutinho’s beautiful curler in the 20th minute that had started the Brazilian goal scoring and had provided Brazil with a vital lead that they could not capture on.

Romelu Lukaku for Belgium

From being termed as one of the biggest “waste” at Manchester United merely months ago, Romelu Lukaku soon transformed into one of the most feared attacker at the world stage as soon as Belgium started their campaign against Tunisia. A brace in the first match followed by another brace against Panama, he has already become the only Mexican to score four goals in a single World Cup finals. Scoring all four goals in the field game, Lukaku is not looking like just a player at this World Cup, but he has emerged as a force to reckon with. He is currently tied with Ronaldo at the second position in the race for the Golden Boot and has a match in his hand to better Ronaldo or even take the top spot.

Harry Kane for England

The ‘hurricane’ from England, who is currently topping the chart for the highest scorer at FIFA World Cup with five goals against his name, has led the Three-Lions to two-victories in two games. The Pommie Captain was the sole scorer for his team in their first league match against Tunisia, which they won 2-1. After Harry Kane helped England take the lead in the 11th-minute, a penalty conceded in the 35th minute needed Harry Kane to step up and win it for his side. He did exactly that in the first minute of the injury time as England won the match 2-1.

And when England ran riot against a hapless Panama in the next match, Harry Kane scored a hat-trick and moved ahead of Ronaldo in the race for the Golden Boot, although having played one match less than the Real Madrid star.

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