World Cup 2018: Two Tottenham players make Team of Round 1

With so many excellent performances in a stunning round of group games, it's tough to narrow it down to just 11 names.


What an opening round to the World Cup we’ve been treated to.

We’ve seen nine penalties awarded in eight of the 15 World Cup games so far, with a further four goals arriving from direct free kicks, and we’re yet to see a single goalless draw.

With another of excellent performances from players in all groups, it’s extremely difficult to narrow our selection down to just eleven players, meaning names such as Diego Costa, Andre Carrillo and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic unfortunately miss out.

Here is RealSport’s team of the first round of group games.

  1. 1 GK: Hannes Halldorsson [Iceland]


    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    Who else but the hero of Iceland's draw with Argentina?

    Hannes Halldorsson crucially saved a penalty - a tame one in fairness - from Lionel Messi with the score still poised at 1-1, as well as producing a number of key saves to keep Iceland in the game.

    Whenever Argentina broke through the Icelandic defence, Halldorsson was a brilliant final barrier, making nine saves in total.

  2. 2 RB: Kieran Trippier [England]


    REUTERS/Sergio Perez

    Who's created the most chances at the World Cup thus far?

    Neymar? No. Lionel Messi? No. Mesut Ozil? No. It's England's right wingback Kieran Trippier.

    The Tottenham player created six chances against Tunisia, the most of any other player and more than the rest of the English side combined, such was his brilliance on Monday night.

    Trippier constantly looked a danger from set pieces - his corner set up Harry Kane's winner - and his crossing was unrivalled, completing ten, the same total as his teammates combined.

  3. 3 CB: Diego Godin [Uruguay]


    REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

    The epitome of the word warrior.

    With Uruguay lacking in attack, the onus was on captain Diego Godin to inspire his troops and lead by example.

    That he did.

    Godin was absolutely brilliant against Egypt, often taking it upon himself to bypass the tentative midfield and progress the ball into the final third himself, making 68 passes at a success rate of 85.3%.

    As per, Godin was, too, typically immovable at the back, completing four tackles, five clearances and eight interceptions, as well as winning 15 duels.

  4. 4 CB: Jose Gimenez [Uruguay]


    REUTERS/Darren Staples

    Jose Gimenez, alongside Diego Godin, was the driving force behind Uruguay's late victory over Egypt, not only from a defensive standpoint, but offensively too.

    Rising high above Ahmed Hegazi, like a majestic leaping salmon, Gimenez powerfully headed in a 90th minute winner to ensure La Celeste were off to a perfect start.

  5. 5 LB: Aleksandar Kolarov


    REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

    Aleksandar Kolarov's 11th international goal was enough to send Serbia top of Group E with a 1-0 win over 2014 quarter-finalists Costa Rica.

    Serbia grew into the game as it wore on, but struggled to find a breakthrough until Kolarov whipped a stunning free kick from 25 yards over the Costa Rican wall, which left Real Madrid 'keeper Keylor Navas grasping at thin air.

    Why was it Manchester City let him go, again?

  6. 6 RW: Aleksandr Golovin [Russia]


    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    It's only fitting that the hosts have a player in the Team of Round 1, but what a welcome addition Aleksandr Golovin is.

    Producing a goal and two assists in the opening game of the tournament, Golovin was the standout performer in Russia's 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia as he sent the hosts on their way to victory.

    Golovin provided two perfectly enticing crosses - resulting in two headed goals - as well as a spectacular free kick in the last few seconds of the game.

    It's no surprise that the current CSKA Moscow star is linked with half of Europe following that performance.

  7. 7 CM: Valon Behrami [Switzerland]


    REUTERS/Marko Djurica

    The Swiss midfielder may have only lasted 71 minutes, but such was the intensity of his performance that he ran himself into the ground.

    Valon Behrami was a crucial element of Switzerland's impressive 1-1 draw with tournament favourites Brazil and he spent his time doggedly chasing the ball and winning back possession for his side. He won the second-most tackles (6) of any player.

    Completing 93% of his passes, moreover, Behrami was also the most accurate passer of any outfield player.

    He was a thorn in Neymar's side and was the reason the talisman was kept quiet during the game, hence his vitality to the result.

  8. 8 CM: Kevin De Bruyne [Belgium]


    REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

    Despite winning 3-0, Belgium weren't particularly convincing against World Cup debutants Panama, with Los Canaleros containing them for the entirety of the first half.

    However, Kevin De Bruyne rose above his teammates and was thoroughly compelling as Belgium's central devil in their hunt for glory.

    Although Roberto Martinez forces him to play a deeper role in a midfield double pivot, De Bruyne was able to get forward against the low block of the Panamanians and his exquisite outside-of-the-boot assist for Romelu Lukaku's first goal typified his performance.

    Slick, sharp and creative.

  9. 9 LW: Hirving Lozano [Mexico]


    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    Touted as one of the players to watch headed into this tournament, Hirving Lozano certainly lived up to his reputation with the game-winning goal as Mexico produced one of the shocks of the World Cup in beating reigning world champions Germany.

    The PSV winger was lively down the left flank and consistently took advantage of the space afforded to him.

    His pace, direct running and willingness to get forward stood out in the first half and he proved to be the difference between the two sides when he coolly netted after getting in behind Joshua Kimmich for the umpteenth time.

  10. 10 ST: Harry Kane [England]


    REUTERS/Sergio Perez

    Just when panic, doubt and frustration began to creep into England's game and there was a semblance of the same old story, Harry Kane rose to the challenge.

    Netting a brace on his World Cup debut from two set pieces, Kane proved his few lingering doubters wrong yet again with a game-winning performance in the world's biggest tournament.

    In doing so, the 24-year-old became the first England player to score two goals in a single World Cup game since Gary Lineker in 1990 and ensured the Three Lions won their opening game for the first time in 12 years. 

  11. 11 ST: Cristiano Ronaldo [Portugal]


    REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

    88 minutes have elapsed. Portugal are trailing 3-2 to Spain. They win a free kick.

    Who else but Cristiano Ronaldo to take it?

    As he stepped up, huffing and puffing over the ball, Ronaldo looked so confident, so assured, as if he'd been born for this very moment. The second his swerving effort left his boot, you just knew David de Gea could do nothing about it.

    The 33-year-old, on his 45th attempt, netted a World Cup free-kick and became the oldest player to score a hat-trick at the tournament, doubling his overall goal tally in the process.

    It was a true captain's performance as he single-handedly ensured Portugal drew their opening game - Ronaldo also scored a penalty and a snapshot that slipped under de Gea.

    It was one of the great World Cup performances from one of the greatest players of all time.

World Cup Team of Round 1:

Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss all the action from Day 6 of the World Cup in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.

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Oli Stein

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Oli graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in History and has worked with RealSport since September 2016.

Currently assistant football editor and Tottenham correspondent.

Follow him on Twitter: @steinoliver_

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