World Cup 100: Ranking the Top Players Heading to Russia

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You can tell the World Cup 2018 is just around the corner; the kits are out, the wall charts are being hung up and the FIFA 18 patch is being played liberally across the globe. We’re edging toward fever pitch.customized nfl jerseys

To continue building toward June 14, the date of the opening bout between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, we’re presenting the first edition of our World Cup 100, a ranking of the best players heading to the finals in each position.

It takes the same format as our Premier League 100, which ran in weekly installments throughout the 2017-18 season. This version will run on a round-by-round basis, updating after each set of games.nfl custom jerseys cheap

This first version is unique in comparison to the future ones; whereas once the World Cup begins we’ll be assessing and ranking based solely on performances in Russia, this edition is a general “who are the best players making the trip.”

Determining who is better than who is a difficult task when it comes to certain positions, as there are entire gluts of players who seem about level—particularly in the centre-back and attacking midfield sections.

2017-18 is a good indicator, but can’t be the sole marker used for who is better than who. Manuel Neuer barely played last season but is clearly one of the best goalkeepers on the planet, so the ranking is not based strictly on cheap custom nfl jerseys how players got on over the last 10 months.

“If he travels with us, he’ll be No. 1,” Joachim Low said of the Manuel Neuer situation last week, per Bundesliga.com. “He’ll go either as fully fit or not at all.”cheap customized nfl jerseys

The fact he’s on the plane, cheap nfl custom jerseys having excelled in two behind-closed-doors friendlies, suggests he’s sharp and ready to go. But Neuer hasn’t played since September due to a broken metatarsal, so it’s reasonable to expect he might be at 90 percent of his powers—at least for the first few games. That paves the way for David De Gea to take the No. 1 spot heading into the tournament.nike nfl jerseys cheap

Germany and Brazil’s strength in the goalkeeping department is made clear by their 40 percent occupancy of this top 10, and it’s a crop dominated by Europe too, with just Alisson, Ederson and Keylor Navas hailing from outside it.nfl jerseys cheap nike

Argentina (-1)

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Argentina’s pre-tournament preparations could hardly have gone any worse. They organised three friendlies, but two (against Israel and Nicaragua) were cancelled, and the other was a 4-0 win against an awful Haiti side.

Given La Albiceleste were facing so many questions coming into this period, this represents a disaster. This was where coach Jorge Sampaoli was supposed to iron out his approach, formation and XI for the World Cup.

This leaves them clear outsiders to lift the trophy as we approach the big kick-off. The only reason they rank as high as sixth is because of the presence of Lionel Messi—a man who is capable of winning matches on his own.

Portugal are a little tough to gauge. There are times when they look stodgy and slow (like against Belgium in their 0-0 draw), but others when they seem fluid and fun (like in the 3-0 win over Algeria).best nfl jerseys

But despite that inconsistency, you have to consider them a top-five team heading to the finals. They boast a number of world-class players (including Cristiano Ronaldo), have a familiarity few nations can match and manager Fernando Santos’ grinding style is perfectly suited to intensive tournaments—check Euro 2016 for evidence of that!

Perhaps he’ll opt to entertain us, utilising young stars Goncalo Guedes and Bruno Fernandes. Perhaps he’ll lean on his usual reactive, physical style. Whichever he chooses, the fact Portugal can win two ways makes them a contender.nfl jersey for cheap

France’s results during this preparation period have been largely fine; wins against the Republic of Ireland and Italy were followed by a draw with the USA.

That said, of all the strongest teams heading to the tournament, Les Bleus arguably have the most question marks hanging over their personnel and starting XI.

What shape the midfield and forward lines take isn’t totally clear, while Djibril Sidibe’s battle with Benjamin Pavard for the right-back berth has been tight. Then there’s the transfer speculation hanging over certain players—notably Antoine Griezmann, per AS—which could cause issues.

Perhaps the group games solve the former issue, nfl jerseys cheap authentic ready in time for the knockouts; there’s little manager Didier Deschamps can do about the latter one, though.

Germany’s pre-tournament performances haven’t been great, but we’ve learnt over time that it’s not necessarily an issue for them. In 2014 they drew 0-0 with Poland and 2-2 with Cameroon amid a fairly turgid March-June period, then won the World Cup in July.custom nfl jerseys cheap

Coach Joachim Low caused a big stir by leaving Leroy Sane out of his 23-man squad for Russia—a decision that led to outrage on social media—but he believes in his options of Marco Reus, Julian Draxler and Julian Brandt more, and belief is key for Low. It’s often a case of “customized nfl jerseys cheap what have you done for me lately?” as opposed to a matter of club form with him.

The defending champions have been immeasurably buoyed by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer proving his fitness; he’s available and set to captain the side. He was called into action plenty of times as Die Mannschaft struggled past Saudi Arabia on Friday, flashing his sharpness.custom nfl jerseys