Even though Spain, Portugal, and Brazil were eliminated prior to the semifinals this year, the stars continue to take center stage as the World Cup progresses.
Some of the tournament’s surviving stars aren’t yet household names, but this week’s standout performances could change that.
Ten of the most crucial semifinalists — Argentina, Croatia, France, and Morocco — who are still vying for the World Cup are listed below:
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
While Messi sits deeper in the midfield and, at 35, isn’t quite as athletic as Mbappé is, teams still prepare for him. As a result, their plans for Messi differ from their plans for Mbappé.
Nevertheless, Messi always manages to make the crucial pass or the exact goal when it counts. His teammates wouldn’t dare challenge the fact that he is the key to Argentina’s chances of reaching its second World Cup Final in the last three tournaments.
2. Kylian Mbappé (France)
Kylian Mbappé would be first on the list of the top 10 best players in the World Cup. His tournament-leading five goals, which he scored at the age of 23, make him one of the greatest World Cup performers of all time, and they significantly contribute to France’s chances of becoming just the third champion to win back-to-back tournaments.
3. Luka Modrić (Croatia)
It is said that Modric led Croatia to the World Cup Final in 2018, accomplishing it again at the age of 37 with a nearly entirely different team is a World Cup victory, unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed.
His colleagues are better as a result of his ageless playing style. Modric has consistently broken through the defense for Croatia (132 times).
4. Olivier Giroud (France)
France’s all-time leading scorer Olivier Giroud continues to increase his total. The 36-year-old has four goals in four games, falling one goal short of first place. Kylian Mbappé, a teammate, has five. There is no other squad with two three-goal scorers.
5. Dominik Livaković (Croatia)
Yassine “Bono” Bonou of Morocco has earned Man of the Match on two separate occasions and has the cleanest sheets among the other goalkeepers, but make no mistake: Between Dominik Livakovi and the competition, there is a significant gap.
For comparison, Livakovi has a save percentage of 86.4% on 19 saves, while Bono has a save percentage of 80% on 5 saves. Livakovi is without a doubt the competition’s top goalkeeper still standing.
6. Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)
Since the beginning of the knockout stage, Amrabat has faced off against some of the top midfielders in the world and not only held his own but occasionally outperformed them.
Given that he is only 26 years old, there will undoubtedly be a market for him during the January transfer window. Currently, Ambarat represents Florentina, a Serie A team in the middle of the pack.
7. Marcelo Brozović (Croatia)
In the round of 16, against Japan, Brozovi ran 10.3 miles, shattering his previous mark. He has sprinted 44.6 miles on the field since the tournament began, averaging 8.9 miles per game, while also leading his side in live-ball passes completed that result in shot attempts (10). He is a workhorse.
8. Rodrigo de Paul (Argentina)
Although Argentina’s midfield has been accused of lacking creativity outside of Lionel Messi, de Paul has demonstrated the value of a midfielder in the World Cup who isn’t afraid to perform the grunt work.
He has completed the most passes (436), intercepted the most passes, and traveled the most distance (32.5 miles). Argentina’s style of play would be ineffective without him.
9. Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Hakimi has made the most successful tackles at this year’s World Cup. With seven interceptions, he is among the tournament’s top performers; only Aurélien Tchouaméni (France), Luka Modric (Croatia), and Joko Gvardiol have more; only Hakimi is a fullback.
10. Aurélien Tchouaméni (France)
Aurélien Tchouaméni has assumed control of France’s midfield in the absence of N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba. In five starts, he has played a team-high 411 minutes and has completed 93.2% of his 335 passes, which is a tournament-best percentage.