World Cup stars: The best player, the best goal and the biggest surprise so far
Richard Marsh | 29 June 2018
Messi and Ronaldo feature
The World Cup group stages are over, after a thrilling fortnight of competition between 32 nations.
It’s been two glorious weeks of at least multiple matches every day, and the Coral News Team are sad to see it end.
But we’re keeping the memories alive with a look back at the best bits. Here are our World Cup group stage highlights…
Best Player – Luka Modric
Philippe Coutinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Aleksandr Golovin deserve a mention for this, but Luka Modric shades them all.
Modric’s vision, movement and technical skill on the ball have made the Croatians borderline unplayable at times.
And his full range of talent was confirmed with a sublime effort against Argentina.
Best Goal – Lionel Messi v Nigeria
The world seemed to turn against Messi after he missed a penalty against Iceland. Ronaldo had bagged a hat-trick against Spain, and suddenly everyone thought the Argentina star was past it.
How wrong they were.
In one beautiful, flowing, natural movement, Messi latched onto a long-range pass from Ever Banega, brought the ball down with his left thigh, followed by a touch with his left foot before striking the ball home right-footed.
It was a goal only he could have scored.
Biggest surprise – Germany
As reigning world champions, Germany headed to Russia as one of the favourites.
But just like France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain four years ago, the reigning champs went out in the group stages.
Germany just couldn’t break teams down, and were ruthlessly punished on the counter attack to finish bottom of Group F.
Best Game – Spain v Portugal
We could have gone for South Korea’s 125/1 2-0 win over Germany, or Croatia’s excellent win over Argentina, but the best game has to be Spain and Portugal’s epic 3-3 draw.
A six-goal thriller saw a Ronaldo hat-trick, a Nacho stunner, a double from Diego Costa and a howler from De Gea.
Portugal went ahead twice, only for Spain to level and then go in front themselves in the second period. But with just two minutes to go, up stepped Ronaldo and we all know what happened next.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing