World Cup Player Power Rankings: Mbappe surges to the top as Szczesny rises rapidly

Photo by Stefan Matzke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images

Another thrilling matchday is over at the World Cup, with Brazil, France and Portugal all securing knockout football with a game to spare.

Kylian Mbappe shone for the reigning world champions against Denmark in Group D, while Lionel Messi inspired Argentina past Mexico to keep their hopes alive.

Bruno Fernandes proved his worth as Portugal brushed aside Uruguay to secure Group G progression, with a late Casemiro strike enough to send Brazil through against Switzerland.

There was an unlikely hero at the other end, though, with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny impressing for Poland in a vital 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia.

Using Opta's Player Power Rankings to calculate individual performances from data collected in each game, Stats Perform unpicks the top stars after two matchdays in Qatar.

10. Lionel Messi

Argentina had never lost their opening two matches at the World Cup, but knew they would face elimination should they suffer defeat against Mexico.

Nerves were therefore high after a scrappy first half before Messi stepped up with a superb second-half opener in the 2-0 win over El Tri, before setting up a late second.

La Albiceleste superstar Messi moved level with the late great Diego Maradona for World Cup goals (eight), with only Gabriel Batistuta (10) netting more for Argentina at the tournament.

9. Theo Hernandez

Mbappe may take a plethora of plaudits for his two-goal showing in the 2-1 victory over Denmark, though left-back Hernandez produced an efficient performance to impress in Didier Deschamps' defence.

Hernandez assisted Mbappe's first goal, one of a game-high five chances he created, while he enjoyed the most touches for France (87) and won all three of his attempted tackles.

8. Richarlison

A brace against Serbia was enough to see Richarlison top the Player Power Rankings after matchday one, though he dropped down the charts with a quiet showing in the 1-0 win over Switzerland.

Tottenham star Richarlison attempted just five passes on Monday, the fewest of any outfield starter, and failed to hit the target with either of his two shots.

7. Yann Sommer

The evergreen Sommer stole the headlines with five saves against Cameroon in Switzerland's World Cup opener, with only two goalkeepers making more stops across matchday one.

Sommer keeps his seventh position in the individual table after making another four saves against Brazil, albeit the Switzerland goalkeeper was eventually beaten by Casemiro's late deflected drive.

6. Cody Gakpo

Reported Manchester United and Newcastle United target Cody Gakpo continues to shine on the world's biggest stage, adding to his header past Senegal with another goal in a 1-1 draw against Ecuador.

The 23-year-old became just the second Netherlands player to score in his first two World Cup appearances, after Memphis Depay in 2014, to move into sixth in the individual rankings.

5. Alex Sandro

Richarlison, Neymar and Vinicius Junior may be the usual big names associated with Tite's World Cup chasers, though Alex Sandro has offered assured performances at left-back.

The Brazil defender won a game-high 11 duels against Switzerland and attempted seven tackles - four more than any other player on the pitch - as part of an excellent defensive showing.

4. Bruno Fernandes

Seemingly intent on putting the tag of Cristiano Ronaldo's deputy to the wayside, Fernandes scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Uruguay that saw Portugal confirm their round-of-16 spot.

The Manchester United midfielder has seven goals in 11 appearances for Portugal in 2022 so far – more than twice as many as any other international team-mate, above Ronaldo (three).

3. Cho Gue-sung

Cho's two quickfire second-half goals only proved to temporarily make the forward South Korea's unsung hero as Ghana rallied to a thrilling 3-2 victory at the Education City Stadium.

The 24-year-old became the first South Korea player to score more than once in a World Cup game, while he is the first Asian player to score two headers in one match at the tournament.

2. Wojciech Szczesny

Salem Al-Dawsari had the chance to edge Saudi Arabia towards the knockout stages but saw his penalty stopped by the brilliant Szczesny before Poland battled to a 2-0 victory to keep their hopes alive.

The Juventus goalkeeper made five saves, including guessing the right way for Al-Dawsari's spot-kick, in what could prove to be the turning point for Poland's World Cup finals campaign.

Poland and Szczesny are yet to concede a goal, after their opening match with Mexico finished 0-0.

1. Kylian Mbappe

Penalty saves, last-ditch tackles and dominant midfield performances can only count for so much in individual rankings if Mbappe delivers yet another scintillating attacking display.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward almost single-handedly dragged France to a 2-1 victory over Denmark, moving level with Zinedine Zidane on 31 goals as Les Bleus' joint-seventh all-time top scorer.

Mbappe leads all players at the World Cup for shots (13), attempts in the box (11), expected goals (2.3) and touches in the area (29). He has also created five chances for his team-mates.

Unless Mbappe can be stopped, France will feel confident of retaining their title.