The team of the first round of the World Cup

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The team of the first round of the World Cup

Guardian: The Szczesny Wall

Who else but him to occupy the cages of this team? Without Wojciech Szczesny, Poland, qualified by a tiny goal on goal difference, would surely not be in the round of 16. From the first match, the Juventus goalkeeper pulled out the right save in a closed duel against Mexico. Against Saudi Arabia, he kept his people alive by repelling a penalty before releasing an unreal parade in stride. He completed his perfect first phase by diverting another penalty, taken by Lionel Messi, in the last meeting. In total, Szczesny was credited with an average of 7 in our columns.

Defenders: youth at the forefront, Spanish full-backs

On the right flank of the defense, Cesar Azpilicueta is a frame of a rejuvenated Spain. The side did not burst the screen (6 average in two tenures) but was very reliable. Quiet against Costa Rica, he shone with his offensive contribution against Japan by delivering a decisive center for Alvaro Morata. If he also takes advantage of the low reservoir in this position in the competition, he has not stolen his place in this team.

In hinge, the competition is impressive but Dayot Upamecano and Josko Gvardiol stood out as essential for their two selections. Not always at best with the Blues before this World Cup, the Bayern defender lived up to the responsibilities entrusted to him by Didier Deschamps on the first two days (7 on average). Very reassuring, his kicking game was crucial in French animation.

Also a regular in the Bundesliga, Gvardiol has grown in power over the matches and is already the boss of the Croatian defense. He ended his first round with a royal performance against Belgium. His intervention on Romelu Lukaku at 90 + 4 qualifies Croatia in the eighth (rated 8 on this match, 6.66 average in total).

Josko Gvardiol extinguished the Belgian attackers. (F. Faugère/The Team)

Left side, the experienced Jordi Alba answered present for Spain. Decisive passer against Costa Rica and, above all, against Germany, the offensive contribution of the Barça player was essential. La Roja lost, against Japan, the only game he did not start (7.5 average over the first two days).

The typical team of the first round.

The typical team of the first round.

Midfielders: a Casemiro-Pedri pair

In front of the defense Casemiro (6.5 on average in two matches) was the guarantor of the balance of a Brazil which accumulates attacking players. Already strong against Serbia, the Manchester United midfielder raised his tone again in the second game. As a bonus: his shot from the outside of the foot gave the Seleção a precious victory against Switzerland.

On his side, Pedri confirmed that he is an unstoppable Spain version Luis Enrique. Boosted by the offensive festival against Costa Rica (rated 8), the Barça midfielder was one of the best Spaniards in the duel with Germany (rated 7). Further back in the defeat of the final day, he completed this first round despite everything with an average score of 6.66.

Casemiro helped Brazil qualify in the second game.  (F. Faugère/The Team)

Casemiro helped Brazil qualify in the second match. (F. Faugère/The Team)

Attackers: Mbappé and Giroud as finishers

A notch higher, Bruno Fernandes represents a Portugal who did the job without shaking on their first two meetings. The Mancunian is the main architect of the two Portuguese successes. Double decisive passer in the thrilling match against Ghana (3-2), he was then double scorer to dismiss Uruguay (2-0). At rest for the last day, he averages 7.5.

To accompany him in the offensive animation of this standard team, Antoine Griezmann is a customer of choice. Replaced in an almost torchbearer role, the Atlético player is the engine of the France team offensively and an essential link defensively. Decisive only once in the victory against Denmark, he could have opened his goal counter with a little more accuracy or without the intervention of the VAR (7 on average).

Bruno Fernandes scored twice in the victory against Uruguay (2-0).  (P. Lahalle/The Team)

Bruno Fernandes scored twice in the victory against Uruguay (2-0). (P. Lahalle/The Team)

Spearheads of this formation, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud already compile five goals between them in this World Cup. Already untenable against Australia, the French number 10 dynamited Denmark thanks to a double synonymous with qualification of the Blues (8 on average). Silent in 2018, Giroud got off to a flying start with a brace against the Australians. Before marking time against the Danes (6.5 average over the two matches).

Coach: Regragui guided Morocco

Appointed at the head of the Moroccan selection less than three months before the start of this World Cup, Walid Regragui (6.67 average) allowed the Atlas Lions to achieve a superb performance by coming out first in a group yet very high. The coach was able to count on a foolproof defense (only one goal conceded) and above all distinguished himself by inspired coaching in the decisive victory against Belgium on the second day (the two goals were scored by incoming ).

Referee: M. Taylor (ENG)

Noted twice, notably during the tense and decisive duel between Belgium and Morocco, Anthony Taylor managed his meetings perfectly. The Englishman comes out of this first round with an average of 7.

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