Major upsets in the FIFA 2018 World Cup
5) David De Gea
Touted by some as the best goalkeeper in the world and rightly so following his miraculous performances for Manchester United, many expected De Gea to star in Russia as well. However, for all his fine saves and confidence he exudes for Manchester United, the Spaniard just hasn’t been able to bring his A game for the national side. And the same trend continued in Russia this summer. His campaign got off with a howler against Portugal as he let the ball slip from his hands to hand Portuguese and Ronaldo a goal. His group stages save rate is also well below par at a rate of just 16.7, which means that 6 out of the 7 shots fired at him have ended up in the net.
Known for flexing their muscles in major tournaments, Germany emphatically failed in Russia much to everyone’s surprise. Having shown a lack of organisation ever since the spine of Schweinsteiger, Klose and Lahm all called quits, Low had somehow managed to get some good performances from the reigning champions. However, in Russia, they failed in a way virtually no one had imagined. Always a heavy favourite for title, Germany were rightly defeated by Mexico in the first game and while a win against Sweden was nothing short of remarkable, they failed to step up and were embarrassed by South Korea. When one looks at the team on paper, there’s no way this team could have ended at the bottom of a group consisting of South Korea, Sweden and Mexico.
3) Jerome Boateng
The German players had little confidence when they went down a goal in reach of the games in this World Cup. Part of it was down to a lack of leadership in the team. With no Schweinsteiger, Lahm or Klose to motivate, Low must have hoped of much better showing from the team’s senior players like Khedira, Hummels and Boateng. Khedira unarguably had his worst showing for the national team while Boateng gave away 8 fouls and conceded a red card in just 2 games. While his ball playing skills are still top class, Boateng definitely waived away some of his suitors with such immature performances.
2) Lionel Messi
While it would be unfair to blame Lionel Messi for Argentina’s horrible showing in Russia, the Argentine is guilty of not showing up when his side needed him. He had an off day against Iceland but against Croatia, he was taken out of the game way too easily. For a team of Argentina’s quality, Messi needed to be the leader instead he was invisible. He did score a fine goal against Nigeria which helped Albiceleste qualify for the next round but against France, where Mbappe was running riot Messi just watched with his head down.
Unarguably one of the best strikers in the world, Robert Lewandowski has had to face sheer criticism in the past few months. First for a lowly performance against Real Madrid which once again knocked Bayern out of the Champions league and then for publicly declaring his desire to leave Bayern Munich. The Pole had the best stage to shut his critics in the World Cup instead he has certainly further provoked his reporters with back to back miserable showings in the World Cup. Poland’s style of play didn’t exactly help Lewandowski but his overall play was also not good enough. He ended the World Cup with 0 goals and just 3 shots on target. Poor showing for a player of his class.