PSG strikers and match-winning midfielders are among our selection for the top players in the last 16.
Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark)
Defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for the Danes as they crashed out after losing on penalties to Croatia. Denmark had only managed to take the game to a shootout thanks to Schmeichel, who saved Luka Modric’s penalty in extra time to prevent the Croatians from going in front. He then kept out two further spot kicks, but it wasn’t to be his day.
Thiago Silva (Brazil)
The Brazil skipper’s reputation was only enhanced by his absence in 2014 as Selecao lost 7-1 to Germany as he watched on from the bench. Four years on, the PSG defender put in a commanding display with a 91% pass success rate and eight clearances against Mexico. Brazil have now reached the quarter-finals for a seventh successive tournament.
Yerry Mina (Colombia)
Colombia are out after defeat on penalties to England but they might have been sent home 45 minutes earlier were it not for the intervention of Mina, whose injury-time equaliser sent the game to extra time. The Barcelona centre back scored in each of his three appearances at the World Cup, meaning that he exits with more goals than club teammate Lionel Messi.
Maya Yoshida (Japan)
It’s not often that a side has conceded three goals and can be praised, but Japan’s efforts should not be forgotten. The Samurai Blue chose to attack the Belgian back line in the knowledge that they were protected by a solid defence as Yoshida made 14 clearances and had 71 touches, more than any of his teammates managed. What a game!
Benjamin Pavard (France)
One of the 13 members of the France squad to not have been to major tournament before, Pavard is winning admirers after starting three of Les Bleus’ matches in Russia. He scored his first international goal with an accurate half volley against Argentina, leading to an announcement from Stuttgart that the 22-year-old is not for sale.
Marouane Fellaini (Belgium)
Fellaini’s cameo against Japan threw up no surprises, but surprises weren’t what Belgium needed. The midfielder’s height and aggression immediately caused problems in the Japan penalty area, and within ten minutes of his introduction Belgium were level after he converted Eden Hazard’s cross. Roberto Martinez has considerable talent at his disposal, but the occasion called for Marouane. He delivered.
Rodrigo Bentancur (Uruguay)
At just 21 years old, Bentancur has started in each of Uruguay’s matches in Russia and registered his first assist in his country’s win over Portugal. That was to be his final contribution as he was substituted immediately after the winning goal, but in 63 minutes he recovered possession twice in an advanced position. It’s fair to say that he might be the future of Uruguayan football.
Nacer Chadli (Belgium)
Eyebrows were raised when Chadli was included in Martinez’ squad, but back in Belgium his contributions do not go unnoticed and one senses the rest of the world might have a clearer idea now. He worked tirelessly after he was brought on against Japan and was rewarded when he sprinted from inside his own area to complete a stunning move and win the game for Belgium. Brazil await.
Kylian Mbappe (France)
After two title-winning seasons in Ligue 1 with AS Monaco and PSG, Mbappe announced himself on the world stage with a brace against Argentina. The second youngest player in the tournament, Mbappe became the first teenager to score twice in a World Cup game since Pele’s double in the 1958 final. That’s not a bad club to be a member of!
Artyem Dzyuba (Russia)
Host nation Russia are through to the quarter-finals of a major tournament for only the second time in their history after victory over Spain on Saturday. Manager Stanislav Cherchesov’s plan worked perfectly as powerful striker Dzyuba won and converted a penalty to level the scores before half time. How far can the hosts go in this tournament?
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)
Cavani was the match winner against Portugal as his double set up a clash with France on Friday. First he met Luis Suarez’s cross to give Uruguay the lead, before he scored the decisive goal with a curling finish past Rui Patricio. He now has three goals in the tournament.