The World Cup group stage is over, and boy howdy, it was good. Golazos, VAR, Messi, Ronaldo, Kane, Lukaku, tiebreakers and absurd scenarios - the last two weeks had it all. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), only one Everton player advanced to the knockout stage.
All three played well, though, and it’s time to review their performances.
Iceland 1-1 Argentina
Iceland 0-2 Nigeria
Iceland 1-2 Croatia
As you might expect, absolutely everything Iceland did in attack ran through Sigurdsson. He took every set piece, linked play between defense and attack, and generally was the star of the show. He looked completely fit, and in the middle of the park, he looked great.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get Iceland into the knockout rounds. Gylfi also skied a penalty that would have helped his side’s cause against Nigeria, and fair or not, that memory will last a little while.
B-. Gylfi did his best under the circumstances (teammate quality and a tough group) but still fell short, and the missed penalty was very unlike our beloved Iceman.
Senegal 2-1 Poland
Senegal 2-2 Japan
Senegal 0-1 Colombia
Senegal played really well in all three of their group games, and were downright unlucky to go out on FIFA Fair Play points (if that sounds ridiculous to you that’s because it is.) Gana marshaled their midfield, including a sterling performance against Poland. He also scored in that game. (before you ask: no. Not an own goal.)
Another B-. Aliou Cisse asked a lot of Idrissa, and for the most part, he delivered. Gana’s skillset just isn’t tailored to play like Arturo Vidal - equal parts capable in attack and defense - and we’ll dock his overall grade for what seemed like a brain fart on Colombia’s lone goal in the last match.
England 2-1 Tunisia
England 6-1 Panama
England 0-1 Belgium
Jordan Pickford faced precious few shots in the group stage. Panama and Tunisia are terrible, and Belgium were not really trying due to permutations in the bracket. He nearly saved a Tunisian penalty, and had absolutely no chance at getting to Adnan Januzaj’s curler on the final day.
Gareth Southgate won’t have seen anything that changed his mind one way or the other. Expect Pickford to start against Colombia, given that he’s, you know, better than Jack Butland.
Incomplete. Jordan fell victim to a penalty and a golazo, but he did have a solid save or two and distributed well. There are just not enough data points (yet) to glean anything from for a proper evaluation. England might be good. They might not. God save the Queen.