TODAY completes the first round of fixtures at this year’s World Cup so how about a quick Dream Team round-up?
We’ve assembled the best possible XI of the tournament so far as determined by overall points.
Needless to say, the more of these early risers you backed the better…
GOALKEEPER: Guillermo Ochoa/Thibaut Courtois
A World Cup icon
It’s a tie between Mexico’s cult hero and the man who is probably the best player in the world in his position right now.
Both Ochoa and Courtois saved penalties to keep their sheets clean this week – the former denied Robert Lewandowski as the north Americans drew 0-0 with Poland while the latter repelled Alphonso Davies as Belgium held off an impressive Canada side to win 1-0.
The two custodians were equally deserving of their Star Man awards and are consequently locked at the top of the keeper rankings on 16 points each.
DEFENDERS: Dejan Lovren, Jordi Alba, Ali El Abdi, Diego Godin
You’ve probably erased Croatia’s 0-0 draw with Morocco from your mind and with good reason.
Lovren was the unlikely beneficiary of that snoozefest as he just edged out Achraf Hakimi to claim the Star Man award (somebody has to win it) on top of his clean sheet for a tidy 13-point return.
An experienced head among Spain’s youthful exuberancegetty
Alba’s success was more predictable as most Dream Team World Cup bosses would have anticipated Spain to start their campaign with a comfortable win over Costa Rica.
The Barcelona left-back assisted Marco Asensio’s goal and won the penalty converted by Ferran Torres to bank 12 points – he’ll be a popular recruit in the coming days.
Denmark v Tunisia was another war of attrition at times but the latter gave a good account of themselves.
Left-back El Abdi narrowly edged out several other players to take the Star Man award on top of his clean sheet for an unexpected return of 13 points – he currently appears in 0.2% of teams.
And fresh off the presses is the ageless Diego Godin who came out on top of the match ratings in the 0-0 between Uruguay and South Korea this lunchtime – yep, you guessed it, 13 points.
MIDFIELDERS: Bukayo Saka, Ilkay Gundogan, Dani Olmo
England’s No17 is Dream Team World Cup’s joint-best performer overall at the time of writing.
Saka scored two of the Three Lions’ six goals against a vulnerable Iran defence and held off stiff competition from Jude Bellingham to claim the Star Man award when all was said and done.
gettySaka cashed in against Iran[/caption]
The Arsenal youngster has 18 points to his name and has been transferred into loads of teams ahead of England’s meeting with USA on Friday night.
Japan’s comeback condemned Germany to a miserable start their campaign in Qatar but it was a profitable one for Gundogan from an individual perspective in the realm of Dream Team World Cup at least.
The Manchester City midfielder scored from the penalty spot and did a good job of linking the play together for Hansi Flick’s side in the first half.
In hindsight, replacing him with Leon Goretzka in the 67th minute may have been a critical mistake as it was only a few moments later Japan took control of the game.
Gundogan banked 13 points for his goal, a 7+ rating and a bittersweet Star Man award – leave him on the pitch next time will you, Hansi?
Olmo completes the midfield trio having taken advantage of Costa Rica’s leggy defence to score one goal and assist another.
The RB Leipzig winger has an ownership of just 1% but his Star Man showing and 15-point haul will surely convince a few gaffers to take a leap of faith ahead of La Roja’s mouthwatering match-up with Germany at the weekend.
FORWARDS: Enner Valencia, Ferran Torres, Olivier Giroud/Mehdi Taremi
gettyStill nobody has topped Valencia’s opening salvo[/caption]
It feels like along time ago now but Ecuador’s captain bagged a brace against the hosts on Sunday to zoom to the top of Dream Team World Cup’s rankings with 18 points – a position he still holds alongside the aforementioned Saka.
Valencia may find it tougher going against Netherlands on Friday but nobody can take his flying start away from him.
Given that Luis Enrique’s side racked up a 7-0 scoreline it’s only fitting our hypothetical XI features a Spaniard in all the outfield positions.
Torres is the chosen one having scored a brace at the expense of Keylor Navas and co for a 13-point return.
The Barcelona man boasts an impressive scoring rate on the international stage – he averages a goal every 138.3 minutes for Spain.
Giroud and Taremi are also tied on 13 points thanks to braces against Australia and England respectively, though their nations experienced different emotions come full-time in those fixtures.
In regards to the former, £3.5m is a very reasonable price for France’s starting striker – a knock-on effect of Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku’s injury withdrawals.
How many of these assets will double down on their returns in the second round of fixtures? Only time will tell…