Part of our 2018 FIFA World Cup Hub
Now that each of the 32 teams at the World Cup have played two of three group matches, it’s time once again to look back at the top 3 losers, top 3 winners, and top 3 leaders for the Golden Boot award.
3rd Place: Colombia
Despite bouncing back from a defeat to Japan to win 3 points from a disappointing Poland to keep their hopes alive. While they will still likely go through to the next round, they should have been going into their last match knowing that a win would give them top spot. It may prove to be costly, especially if the winner of England or Belgium get a well-deserved win against the other.
2nd Place: Poland
Poland came in as group seeds, after manipulating their FIFA ranking to avoid having to face a top-7 team. It was not enough to prevent them from being eliminated after just two games, with losses against Senegal and Colombia, conceding multiple goals to both. By securing their early ticket home, they will be one of this tournament’s biggest disappointments. They simply did not have the skill to beat Colombia on a good day, and lost to Senegal because they could not take good enough advantage of their quality players.
1st Place: Argentina
This hardly requires an explanation. Argentina came into the tournaments as one of the 2nd-tier favourites, having made it to the final in 2014 where they came very close to winning it outright. It is hard to imagine Messi not retiring from the national team after this World Cup, especially if they fail to beat Nigeria and are eliminated. Or, if Messi has one more disappointment left in him, he might stick around for next year’s Copa America. He has been a curse as much as a blessing to this side, and with Nigeria finding their form and the tension between Argentina’s players and coach, it is no longer difficult to see La Albiceleste crash out.
3rd Place: Japan
Japan have become joint favourites to progress from Group H, and despite failing to beat Senegal, they have shown more than enough quality to beat Poland and win the group. The team is professional and industrious, and have shown that they can play smart enough to threaten almost any side at this tournament. They are very likely to be the biggest surprise team to qualify for the next round.
2nd Place: Russia
Russia advanced to the next round for the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Thanks to group favourite Uruguay’s arguably lacklustre performances, the hosts will only need a draw to win the group, especially important when either Spain or Portugal could be waiting on the other side. It would still be a surprise to see Russia in the quarterfinals, but it wouldn’t be shocking.
1st Place: Mexico
Mexico has set themselves up in prime position to win a group including title holders Germany, needing only a draw against Sweden in order to do so. It could very well allow them to avoid Brazil in the next round, in which case you would really fancy them to reach the quarterfinals on foreign soil for the first time in 40 years. Mexico were eliminated in the round of 16 in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014, and look more likely than not to advance further this time.
After 2 of 7 games, the top three contenders remain unchanged, but Harry Kane takes the top spot from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Gold: Harry Kane
5 goals (2 against Tunisia, 3 against Panama), 0 assists.
Silver: Romelu Lukaku
4 goals (2 against Panama, 2 against Tunisia), 0 assists, played fewer minutes than Ronaldo.
Silver: Cristiano Ronaldo
4 goals (3 against Spain, 1 against Morocco), 0 assists, played more minutes than Lukaku.
This Round: Croatia 3-0 Argentina
Group Stage: Croatia 3-0 Argentina