World Cup 2018: Player's stock after the tournament

Eden Hazard

His stock has definitely risen, especially given his performances for Belgium during the knockout stages in Russia. It’s not like he’s an unknown player but he had an excellent World Cup. He was one of, if not the best and most consistent player Belgium had for the tournament. He was somewhat disappointing in the semifinal against France though out of the front three of Lukaku, De Bruyne and himself, he was easily the best of the lot. He was helped by the fact that the bar for was set low – given that he an underwhelming season with Chelsea. He’s played better in seasons where Chelsea has gone on to win the league than when they haven’t. This was all his own doing. He still had an excellent tournament and always looked to be a threat whenever the ball was at his feet. Hazard was clever both on and off the ball. His runs were sharp and his passes always found teammates in dangerous areas. Had he had a center forward with greater technical ability, he would have been able to combine better with his striker on one-twos that would have created even more opportunities for Les Diables Rouges. His attitude and ability to focus during any given game has been questioned, and rightly so. At times for Chelsea he simply looked disinterested and would often slack off to the wings. He would make lazy runs and he would pass to get the ball off his feet; and to create goal scoring opportunities.  We saw a different Hazard for the World Cup. He was taking people on in one-on-one chances and it would most certainly be worrying if a player of his caliber wasn’t interested in playing on the greatest stage. Fit and situation are clearly important for him. Playing for Belgium, he’s surrounded by players that compliments his skill set and that he gets along with on and off the pitch. Roberto Martinez is a manager that empowers Hazard and lets his captain express himself on the football field. The same cannot be said for his previous two managers at Chelsea. With the departure of Ronaldo, the rumors surrounded his departure for Real Madrid will only get stronger, his ability to ingratiate himself into the system in place at the Camp Nou will be key. He’ll be playing with the most talented group of players of his career and he will not have to do much defensive work. He’ll be excellent in taking players on, should he move to La Liga, and will likely find success at Los Blancos.

 

Kieran Trippier  

He has a fantastic tournament playing for the Three Lions who finished fourth – making to their first semifinals in 28 years. He benefitted largely from Gareth Southgate’s decision to play with 3-in-the-back formation instead of playing a more traditional lineup with four defenders. This pushed him out wide into the role of a wingback where he mainly had to focus on his attacking responsibilities. Had Southgate decided to have three traditional central defenders on the pitch or played with a back four, Kyle Walker would have been favored over Trippier in the fullback/wingback role for England. He took full advantage of the opportunities offered to him was amongst the best in his position for the duration of the World Cup. What mas most surprising about Trippier was the quality of his deliveries. He consistently was able to create space in the final third and deliver balls into the box to with lethal precision. The Three Lions relied on him on set pieces and he delivered whenever called upon to do so; especially in a semifinals against the Croats where he scored a wonderful free kick. Kyle Walker might be the bearer of good fortune for Trippier. Not only did he play as a center half, the natural fullback moved to Manchester City prior to the beginning of the 2017-18 season. This open up the right back slot back in Tottenham and with Serge Aurier being a wildcard, Trippier was able to cement his status as a starter for the Spurs. He’s much better as a wingback than a fullback given his offensive skillset and lack of defensive instincts. Many a time during England’s campaign, he was beaten on 1 v 1 situations. At the highest level, there are still concerns over his defensive attributes though he has plenty of time to improve as a defender.     

 

Robert Lewandowski

He suffered largely because of the situation he was in and the squad he was surrounded by. He was a victim of a stale side. Much of this Poland size is well within the process of fossilization. The spine of the team has been around in the international game for many years and have clearly aged. That being said, this country was only going to go as far as Lewandowski would take them. They were excellent during qualifying, led by Lewandowski who scored a ton of goals. Given how poor he was in Russia many are now skeptical of his world class status and his value as a top quality striker. That’s a hard pill to swallow given that he is one of the best center forwards in the game. In the event he is to make a move away from the Allianz Arena, he will deadly in for other teams and in other leagues. He can play with his back to the goal and set up teammates with his vision and passing. He doesn’t need the ball with his feet and his timely runs often find him in goal scoring positions. Regardless of his stock, teams will be more than happy to have his services. Nevertheless, he has been underwhelming at best over the past weeks and months. Lewandowski has been very poor in the Champions League for the past two seasons. His work rate has dropped in his most recent season with Bayern Munich. His body language on the pitch has changed to the point where he appears to be completely disengaged with the rest of the Bayern attack. Lewandowski now has the arrogance of stating that his teammates do not do enough to get the best out of him and boost his scoring record. When things did not go Poland’s way, Lewandowski disappointed and showed no urges to try and make something happen for this side. 

 

Mesut Özil  

The stock of the entire German national team has fallen of the cliff. Leroy Sane is the German player who can come out smiling given that he was sorely needed. But, nobody’s stock has fallen more than Özil’s. In the big games, the do or die moments for Germany, he was nowhere to be seen. He was dropped against Sweden and was invisible in a must win game against South Korea. He was jogging around the pitch as if he did not have care in the world or Germany’s impended exit was of no meaning to him. Each and every time he had a chance to score he’d lay the ball off to a teammate and simply looked disinterested at the events of the game. Hugely disappointing.

 

 

 

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