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By Joe Lovelace
26th June 2018 at 9:36am

2018 World Cup XI – Round Two

After a stunning first week at the World Cup the second week had a lot to live up to, and it didn’t disappoint! World Champions Germany squeezed past Sweden with seconds left on the clock, England put six past a hapless Panama side and Croatia dented Lionel Messi’s hopes of glory in an action packed second round in Russia.

We’ve tasked ourselves with picking the best XI from the second round of enthralling World Cup so far.

 

GOALKEEPER (4-4-2)

Robin Olsen (Sweden, 28-years-old, Malmo)

The Swedish shot stopper conceded his first goal in 548 minutes when Marco Reus equalised for the world champions. Olsen made a number of impressive saves to keep Sweden in the game but was helpless to stop Toni Kroos’ late free kick that handed the Germans all three points. His form at the World Cup has seen him linked with a number of clubs including Liverpool.

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RIGHT BACK

Kieran Trippier (England, 27-years-old, Tottenham Hotspur)

Only Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne (8) has created more chances at the World Cup than England’s right back Kieran Trippier (7). The England defender’s set-pieces have helped Gareth Southgate’s men become a real menace at corners and free-kicks. The Spurs man seems to be thriving in the 3-5-2 formation, if he continues his fine form in Russia he’ll be a shoe in for Team of the Tournament.

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CENTRE BACK

John Stones (England, 24-years-old, Man City)

When Stones woke up on Sunday morning he’d never have dreamed of walking off the Nizhny Novgorod pitch at full time with two goals to his name, it will be a day that lives long in the memory for the Barnsley-born defender. Stones looked calm and collective at the back with Southgate’s system getting the best out of his abilities on the ball and has looked a threat at all set pieces in the opening two matches.

CENTRE BACK

Yerry Mina (Colombia, 23-years-old, Barcelona)

The importance of Mina’s opener for Columbia in their must-win match against Poland on Sunday can’t be understated, with the Barca defender continuing his impressive record of four goals in 13 games for his country. If rumours are true about Barcelona wanting to sell him, he’ll want to keep impressing so he can earn a big money move after the World Cup. The 6’ 5’’ centre-back kept Robert Lewandowski quiet all night and broke the deadlock just before half time by heading in James Rodriguez’s cross.

LEFT BACK

Marcelo (Brazil, 23-years-old, Barcelona)

Marcelo showcased why he’s considered one of Brazil’s most reliable players in recent years. Brazil’s slow start in Russia continued against Costa Rica with the 2014 World Cup hosts waiting until the 91st minute opener from Coutinho. Marcelo remained calm throughout and provided a constant threat down the left wing all game.

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RIGHT MIDFIELD

James Rodriguez (Colombia, 26-years-old, Real Madrid)

Rodriguez showed why he was the star of the 2014 World Cup against Poland – running the show from start to finish for Colombia. The on-loan Bayern man put in a beautiful cross for Mina’s opener then played arguable the pass of the tournament so far for Falcao’s goal. On that showing England will be wary of Rodriguez and his countryman as the competition progresses into the knockout rounds.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD

Toni Kroos (Germany, 32-years-old, Real Madrid)

Kroos’ 95th minute winning free kick alone gets him a spot in our team of the round. Year after year, tournament after tournament and World Cup after World Cup – the Germans just know how to win when it matters. The Real Madrid man’s free kick kept the German’s hopes of becoming the first side since Brazil in 1962 to retain the World Cup. Sadly, for the rest of the nations, Kroos and co will only get better as we go further into the competition.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD

Luka Modric (Croatia, 32-years-old, Real Madrid)

Wearing the captain’s armband has brought out the best of Modric in Russia, in two games so far, he’s hit the back of the next in both and won back-to-back MOTM awards. Many tipped Croatia to go far in the competition and with Modric in this sort of form the sky is the limit. His goal against Lionel Messi’s Argentina wasn’t too bad either…

LEFT MIDFIELD

Eden Hazard (Belgium, 27-years-old, Chelsea)

Belgium have countless world class players to call on and Eden Hazard is undoubtedly one of those. He showed why he’s considered one of the best attacking players around by tearing apart a side England struggled to break down in Tunisia, ending the match with two goals and an assist. He seems to go up a level when he pulls on the Belgium shirt and with other so-called big nations struggling so far in Russia, Roberto Martinez’ side could go all the way.

STRIKER

Harry Kane (England, 24-years-old, Tottenham Hotspur)

This man can do no wrong at the moment and everything he touches turns to gold. He won’t score an easier hat-trick for England, full stop, let alone at a World Cup. Panama’s WWE-like defending allowed the Spurs man to expertly despatch two penalties before claiming his third via a wicked deflection off his heel from a Ruben Loftus-Cheek shot. The England captain is now top scorer in Russia and has the same amount of goals in a World Cup as the legendary Sir Geoff Hurst, who went on to do something quite special…

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STRIKER

Romelu Lukaku (Belgium, 25-years-old, Man Utd)

Surprisingly some still question Lukaku’s quality as a player despite laying claim to 40 goals in 71 games for Belgium and now back-to-back braces in a World Cup. The Man Utd striker looks to be in imperious form for his country with the fight for the Golden Boot likely to be down to him Cristiano Ronaldo and Kane. With Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne behind him, you wouldn’t bet against him claiming the Golden Boot.

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Read our team of round one article here: http://blog.marathonbet.co.uk/russia-2018-team-tournament-far/

Follow us and tweet @Marathonbet
All image sources from PA Images

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