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2018 FIFA World Cup | Messi and other heroes this week

Some familiar faces light up round three.

Basit Aijaz | New Delhi | Updated :

The group-stage is done and dusted. The tournament now moves into it’s business end, with each team knowing – a defeat will send them packing.

A total of 16 teams have been eliminated, and they will be utterly disappointed as their World Cup dream is over. The remaining 16 live on to battle for the crown.

There were a few surprises and shocks in round three – most notably that of Germany crashing out. There were players who set the stage alight, and turned on the style.

Here are the heroes from round three:

Isco, Spain

Full of tricks, flicks, dribbles and passing, he capped off another excellent performance with a well-taken goal against Morocco. Spain’s key man by far, he remains a threat going forward.

2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA World Cup 2018, Round three heroes, Isco
Isco (R) has been Spain’s best player so far. He was brilliant again (Photo: AFP)

 

He looks like a man that can make Spain real contenders going forward. If he continues to put in displays like these, it will only aid Spain’s bid for their second World Cup title. Watch out for him in the last-16 .

Marcos Rojo, Argentina

Recalled as Argentina switched to a back four, looked composed on the ball, a lot more so than usual. But on occasions, his defending was last ditch and appeared desperate.

2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA World Cup 2018, Round three heroes, Marcos Rojo
Marcos Rojo was the hero as his saved Argentina from the exit (Photo: AFP)

 

He finds a mention in the list because of his outstanding volley late on to win the game, a goal that saved Argentina’s World Cup. He became a Argentine hero with that goal. No really!

Lionel Messi, Argentina

He is well and truly back. The Messi of old finally showed us why he is one of the greatest players of all time.

Nigeria dominated early exchanges, and it looked like Argentina were headed for chaos. Then, at 13 minutes and 52 seconds, the ball arrived at the feet of the coolest man in the stadium and, three magical touches later, at 13 minutes and 54 seconds, the ball arrived in the top corner of the net. Argentina had gone from chaos, to pandemonium, to mayhem, all with the three most tranquil touches of a football this World Cup has seen so far wedged in between.

2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA World Cup 2018, Round three heroes, Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi ran the show for Argentina against Nigeria (Photo: AFP)

 

Fabulous finish for the opener, firing across Uzoho. He ran the game, and was a threat throughout. He delivered when his country needed him the most. That’s a mark of truly remarkable players.

Jo Hyeon-woo, South Korea

It’s a name Germany won’t forget for years. He will haunt them and give them nightmares – it won’t be easy to get over his heroics. After all, he had a major hand in Germany crashing out. A 0-2 loss to South Korea was more than enough to send Germany back home.

2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA World Cup 2018, Round three heroes, Cho Hyun-woo
South Korea’s goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo (R) was a wall Germany couldn’t break (Photo: AFP)

 

South Korean goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo was simply outstanding. It looked like – if Germany were give 10 hours to score against him, they would have failed – such was his performance. He was flying – making acrobatic saves, diving to his right and left, and he was a wall Germany couldn’t simply break.

Some even suggested, he could have saved the ‘Titanic’. Brilliant!

Andreas Granqvist, Sweden

A physical presence, causing problems in the opposition penalty area. He looked too strong for Mexico defensively, making some vital clearances in tight areas.

Andreas Granqvist , 2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA World Cup 2018, Round three heroes,
Sweden’s captain Andreas Granqvist has been brilliant at the back. He was rock solid against Mexico (Photo: AFP)

 

He also scored a penalty, his second at this year’s World Cup. The captain is leading from the front.