By Michael Place MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- The World Cup in Russia has thrown
up no shortage of surprises as favorites have been toppled,
heroes vanquished and new stars born. Here we look at the five
biggest shocks of the tournament so far.
Germany dumped out:
The World Cup
champions curse continued as Joachim Loew’s men were dumped out
in the group stage. It was the third consecutive time that the
holders have failed to reach the round of 16, following on from
Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014.
wasn’t right from the start of their first match against Mexico,
which they lost 1-0. A brilliant Toni Kroos free-kick routine
saved their blushes against Sweden before they collapsed to a
2-0 loss to South Korea in their final group match.
Messi kept in check:
Argentina fans had
hoped that this tournament would provide a glorious and belated
coronation for Lionel Messi after the Albiceleste lost three
straight finals in major tournaments: the 2014 World Cup, 2015
Copa America and 2016 Copa America.
However both Messi
and Argentina were found wanting, sputtering through the group
stage before being knockout out by France in the last 16. Messi
looked a shadow of the player that has won five Ballon d’Or
awards, scoring just once in four matches.
Rated before the
tournament as Russia’s worst ever team, the hosts quickly went
about proving their doubters wrong by romping to a 5-0 win in
their tournament opener against Saudi Arabia, led by a Denis
Cherchesov’s side won their next match against Egypt 3-1 before
losing 3-0 to Uruguay after being reduced to 10 men early. They
then beat 2010 champions Spain on penalties in the round of 16
but bowed out in the quarterfinals against Croatia in another
duel decided by spot-kicks.
golden generation has finally turned potential into concrete
results by reaching the last four of the World Cup for the first
time since 1986. Coach Roberto Martinez has succeeded where his
predecessors failed by making the team greater than the sum of
The Spaniard has
also shown great tactical pragmatism by setting up his side to
suit the characteristics of his best players and exploit the
weakness of opponents. This was exemplified in the team’s 2-1
quarterfinal victory over Brazil, when Kevin de Bruyne was
deployed as a false nine while Roman Lukaku and Eden Hazard
where pulled wide.
forward almost single-handedly fired his team to victory over
Argentina in the round of 16 by scoring twice and earning a
penalty. In doing so, he became the first teenager since Pele in
1958 to net a brace in a single World Cup match. His explosive
speed and lethal finishing has drawn comparisons with Brazil
Four future stars
shining among young players in World Cup
KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) --
While many people feel sorry to see Messi,
Ronaldo and Neymar leaving the World Cup pitches earlier than
expected, some young players stood out to show that they deserve
equal, if not more, attention from the media and fans.
They have impressed
audiences with their great skills, superb goals and have shown
the world that they are the future stars.
There should be no
doubt that Mbappe, the Golden Boy of 2017, is the most talented
player of his generation. Born in 1999, the PSG striker will
become the world’s second-most expensive player if his loan from
Monaco to PSG turns permanent this summer.
In the 4-3 thriller
against Argentina, Mbappe scored twice and set up another for
Antoine Griezmann, becoming the first teenager to score a brace
in the same World Cup match after Pele. Had it not been for
Mbappe, Didier Deschamps’s side might have already been
eliminated in the first match of the knock-out stage in the
After the match,
Mbappe finally cemented his place in the starting line-up. With
France taking on another talent-studded team Belgium in the
semifinals, Mbappe could be the devastating weapon for Les
Although the hosts
were eliminated by Croatia on penalties in the quarterfinal
clash, this can’t shadow the highlight performance of Golovin.
considered by many as the most talented Russian player in the
last decade after Andrey Arshavin. It’s not easy to define his
role, but it’s not hard to conclude that he usually does a good
In the emotional
opening match in which Russia crushed Saudi Arabia 5-0, Golovin
dominated the front pages although Denis Cheryshev, who replaced
injured Alan Dzagoev, was rated the man of the match.
The playmaker now is
closely linked with a summer move to Serie A giant Juventus. The
Bianconeri have offered 20m to CSKA Moscow for Golovin, but
after his wonderful performance in this World Cup, higher price
defending champion Germany 1-0 in their opening match of Group
F, and it was Lozano who scored the sole goal through the
Just like another
legendary soccer star Luis Hernandez, Lozano is small, quick and
has a seemingly endless bag of tricks.
As a winger, his
footwork, agility and desire to drive forward with the ball
surged Mexico to the last 16 clash.
It is reported that
Manchester United and Arsenal have joined the battle to sign
Harry Kane (England)
24-year-old Kane can’t be tipped as a future star, but there is
no denying that the captain of the young “lions” still has
potential to feature.
Kane scored 41 goals
in 48 matches across all competitions for Tottenham Hotspur in
the 2017-18 season. Now he has brought that form to the England
national team and made his way to become the current top scorer
in the World Cup with six goals from just four games.
composure and finishing ability have helped England move on to
the semifinals, the best record since 1990. In the upcoming
match against Croatia, Kane remains absolutely essential to