What a dramatic and entertaining World Cup so far! Now the group stages are over, the tension can really start to build. Who are you going to sign ready for the knockout rounds? Here’s Sanctuary Students’ list of players to watch. If you’re taking part in our fantasy football tournament let us know your top picks.
Cristian Pavón (Argentina)
Who hasn’t been disappointed with Argentina and the ‘GOAT’ Messi so far!? You would think that despite beating Nigeria, further changes need to be made. Pavon in for the out-of-form Di Maria could be the obvious one, a winger with impressive dribbling ability could be what Argentina need to get their forward line clicking. Should Dybala also be playing ahead of Higuain and Aguero?
Hirving Lozano (Mexico)
The talented winger has already shown glimpses of his pace and skill, and although Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez are the more household names, Lozano is arguably the most dangerous component of the Mexico front three. If he is to have an impact in the latter stages of the tournament, he’ll need to be on top form as amazingly Mexico are aiming to win their first World Cup knockout game since 1986.
André Silva (Portugal)
Having made a big money move to Milan last summer, the 22-year-old has struggled at the Italian giants, scoring a mere two league goals last season, however, he did score an impressive eight goals in World Cup qualifying. Benched for the first two group games, he started against Iran and looked sharp. If Portugal are to replicate their Euro 2016 win at a World Cup, they’ll need better support for Cristiano Ronaldo, and Silva could be the one to provide it.
Pione Sisto (Denmark)
Denmark’s current second biggest talent after Christian Eriksen, Sisto has the rare ability which is so easy on the eye, being able to glide past players with ease. Having been quiet in the group stages, he’ll now be raring to have an impact, and will be crucial to unlocking defences alongside the Tottenham midfielder.
Marcus Rashford (England)
Is it coming home!? Many have argued that Rashford should be starting for England, and while he missed a glorious chance against Belgium, he did look very dangerous. An explosive talent, Rashford may find his minutes limited, but he could still light up this World Cup as an impact sub.
Mario Gavranović (Switzerland)
Both Switzerland fans and neutrals have become frustrated with the performances of Haris Seferović (understandably given his touch map against Serbia!), and Gavranović seems to have much more to his game. If given another start, he could give another dimension to the Swiss attack, especially with the creativity of Xherdan Shaqiri and vision of Granit Xhaka behind him.
Dejan Lovren (Croatia)
While we all love an attacking player, we had to put at least one defender in! Although he has his critics, Lovren is more than capable of delivering big performances in crucial games. With Croatia boasting arguably the best midfield in the tournament, he will be a key player at the back, and some of the Sanctuary Students team have them as one of the favourites to win the whole thing!
Keisuke Honda (Japan)
A key player for Japan in previous tournaments, now 32, Honda was restricted to substitute appearances in the group stages. However, after proving he can still have an impact after scoring a crucial equaliser against Senegal, Honda could have a huge part to play as an impact sub or even a starter. With excellent technique and long-range shooting ability, he’s definitely one to watch.