The Group Stage of the World Cup is over and we are into the knock-out phase of the Competition. While the best teams have progressed to the round of 16, the world cup has ended in tears for many others.
This World Cup has already been termed as one of the best ever, owing to the sheer excitement and unpredictability it is bringing to the table. The 2018 World Cup is a proof that football is a team game and that team spirit and unity can be dangerous enough to slay the giants.
Here we list down the top five flop players of the group stages of this World Cup. For a fare comparison we have only considered players who have star status and yet failed miserably.
Robert Lewandowski (Poland):
The Bayern Munich forward is one of the biggest names in world football, owing to his countless exploits on the field over the years. The Polish striker has been a top goalscorer in the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League over the past few seasons. The memories of him putting 4 passed Real Madrid in a UEFA Champions League semifinal and scoring 5 in 10 minutes against VFL Wolfsburg are still fresh. The record goalscorer was instrumental in Poland’s qualification to the World Cup as well, after he scored a whooping 16 goals in qualifying rounds for The Eagles. The fans were expecting the Bundesliga top scorer to be firing in his nation’s colours once again. But it was not the case.
The 29-year old Pole played all 270 minutes of the World Cup campaign, and had 9 shots. Out of them, 3 were on target, while 4 were off and 2 were blocked. Poland crashed out of the World Cup after consecutive defeats against Senegal and Columbia, before they notched up a consolation win against a second string Japanese side. In all of these matches, not only did Robert Lewandowski failed to score, he even failed to make a single assist or create a clear cut opportunity for his team mates. This surely was one of the worst all time cup performances from the great forward.
Thomas Mueller (Germany):
Thomas Mueller is only the 3rd person to score 5 goals in two different world cups (after Gabriel Batistuta and Miroslav Klose) and was always known as a world cup player.
The Germans came into the World Cup as one of the outright favourites to win the cup; but they failed miserably after losing two of their 3 matches and finishing bottom of the group. Thomas Mueller was as terrible as it gets in those two matches. He had only 3 shots in the whole tournament out of which 1 was blocked and the other two were off target. His dismal performance prompted Joachim Low to drop him from the starting XI for the final match.
Timo Werner (Germany):
After wining the 2014 World Cup, Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose – the three legends of German football – retired. The replacement for the latter was said to be the 22-year old RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner.
The youngster scored 34 goals in the last two Bundesliga seasons for his club. To top that, he scored 3 times and assisted twice in the FIFA Confederations Cup to win the Golden Boot. Everyone expected the young German striker to emulate what a young Miroslav Klose did in 2002. But the former VFB Stuttgart man failed miserably after having 5 of his 7 shots off target while having one each on target and blocked.
Gabriel Jesus (Brazil):
Gabriel Jesus was a street kid 4 years back, when the world cup happened in Brazil. 4 years since then, the world has changed a lot and the street kid is a superstar in the Premier League with Manchester City. The Brazilian fans all across have been hoping to see him shine as Brazil started their campaign for a record 6th title. But so far in the World Cup, he has been very poor. None of his 4 shots has been on target and he missed a sitter against Serbia. Brazilian fans will hope he returns to form once the knockout phases begin.
David de Gea (Spain):
The Spaniard has been a revelation under the bar for Manchester United. But he has been a mere shadow of himself for La Roja Furio in the 2018 World Cup. With only a solitary save to his name, “Dave Saves” has the worst save rate of 16.7% at the world cup. To top that the United custodian had a howler in their opening game when he fumbled a seemingly non-venomous CR7 shot into the goal. Spain definitely would hope for better performance in future from the star, as their dream to win the second world cup ended in tears against Russia.