Group stage XI: Ronaldo? No question. The team of the World Cup so far

Paul Doyle
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Cristiano Ronaldo has the been the standout forward of the tournament so far.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: William Volcov/William Volcov/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Cristiano Ronaldo has the been the standout forward of the tournament so far. Photograph: William Volcov/William Volcov/Rex/Shutterstock

Alireza Beiranvand, Iran goalkeeper

Standing at 1.93 metres (6ft 4in) Beiranvand commands his box well while showing the reflexes and strong hands to make improbable saves, such as the one that denied Hakim Ziyech against Morocco or the double-stop from a Sergio Busquets shot against Spain. The only time the ball has beaten him was not from a shot, but a ricochet off Diego Costa. Group stage performance rating 8

Moussa Wagué, Senegal right-back

Left-back was a problem position for Senegal before the tournament but their manager, Aliou Cissé, solved the puzzle against Poland by moving the erstwhile right-back, Youssouf Sabaly, to the left and entrusting their right-back slot to Wagué, an inexperienced 19-year-old. The teenager justified that decision with an immaculate performance, helping his country to a famous win. Rating 6

Manuel Akanji, Switzerland centre-half

A powerful and composed bulwark in the heart of Switzerland’s defence, the 22-year-old ensured Gabriel Jesus barely featured when the Swiss held Brazil. Aleksandar Mitrovic did his utmost to avoid him when the Swiss played Serbia: the striker bullied Switzerland’s other centre-back, Fabian Schär, but came off second best whenever Akanji was close to him. Rating 7

Maya Yoshida, Japan centre-half

Outstanding in the win over Colombia, who were reduced to 10 men but still exerted plenty of pressure, which Yoshida helped to repel, negating any aerial threat from the South Americans. He was also a menace when he went forward for set pieces. An honourable mention must also go to Croatia’s Dejan Lovren. Rating 7

Jesús Gallardo, Mexico left-back

Mexico’s lightning counter-attacks against Germany were joyous to behold and Gallardo was often involved, combining slickly down the left with the goalscorer, Hirving Lozano. His attacking potency does not come at the expense of defensive stability. Rating 7

Héctor Herrera, Mexico midfielder

Herrera called the shots in the win over Germany. An all-rounder, he was the conduit of attacks thanks to his precise passing and also the leader in defence, making more tackles than anyone against the defending champions, combining the roles well by setting up the goal after hustling the ball from Sami Khedira. Rating 7

Ivan Rakitic, Croatia midfielder

An artful and industrious linchpin for Croatia, he deservedly rounded off the scoring during the dismantling of Argentina, having previously starred in the win over Nigeria. His determination, imagination and technique help make his side solid while enabling their attacks to flow. Rating 9

Nordin Amrabat, Morocco midfielder

The Watford player should not have featured against Portugal after being knocked out in a collision while playing at right-back during the narrow defeat to Iran. But he started, all the same, even throwing away his protective head wear as if it was holding him back, and showed his versatility – not to mention his strength and skill – by excelling in a more attacking role when moved further forward, tormenting the left‑back, Raphaël Guerreiro, from start to finish. Rating 7

Luka Modric, Croatia midfielder

His precise and nimble scheming is perhaps Croatia’s greatest weapon, a key part of what makes them genuine contenders. His goal against Argentina, following a penalty in the win over Nigeria, was one of the best of the tournament so far. Rating 9

Aleksandr Golovin, Russia midfielder

A month after his 22nd birthday the elegant midfielder has been confirmed as a national treasure in Russia, his creative skills being instrumental to the hosts’ early surprise successes at this tournament. He has made things happen around him without ever being predictable and played at a level that suggests he will be moving on shortly from CSKA Moscow. Rating 8

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal forward

His hat-trick against Spain had an element of luck but, then again, is it really a coincidence that the normally flawless David de Gea made an uncharacteristic mistake while attempting to save a shot from Ronaldo? Or that Morocco’s usually tight defence disintegrated when Ronaldo dived in for the winning goal. He makes his own luck and, at 34, still sets the standard for all others. Rating 9

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