World Cup 2018 HYPE beasts: Stars that have stuttered

World Cup Lewandowski

By Ced Seredrica

These superstars were expected to light up the tournament in Russia, but not everything has gone to plan.

Robert Lewandowski

The Bayern Munich hitman arrived in Russia 2018 coming off a 40-goal season haul in all competitions with the German giants and was expected to lead the line for his nation. But after two games, Poland, the highest ranked team in their group, crashed out in style, scoring once and conceding five goals with Lewandowski’s influence nowhere to be found.

During the past two games The Eagles were limited to playing long balls towards the big Pole, but the lack of quality service has left the Bayern man chasing scraps.

With their last game against an inspired Japan, Lewandowski would be hoping for a good performance against the Samurai Blue to at least end a disappointing tournament on a high note.

Raheem Sterling

For all his talent and athleticism, Raheem Sterling has failed to impose himself in two games for the Three Lions.

His opening game display against Tunisia failed to inspire confidence from the England faithful. Losing possession in bad spots, poor decision making, and a general lack of finishing plagued the Manchester City stalwart against lesser opposition.

England manager Gareth Southgate’s ridiculous praise of Sterling’s first outing does not help his case either, seemingly shielding his player from criticism as if he was watching a different game.

Sterling did redeem himself a little bit with a better showing against a hapless Panama side, going the full 90 and providing the assist for Jesse Lingard’s wonder goal.

If England is to go farther into this tournament, they will need the Raheem Sterling that terrorised Premier League opposition onwards a record setting season for the Citizens.

Mohamed Salah

The Reigning PFA player of the year. Big things were expected of Mo Salah. Having broken the Premier League record for goals in 38 games, the Egyptian was expected to light it up in Russia.

Now this is a mixed bag as Salah has scored the only goals for his country in this World Cup, finishing with two goals in two games. The Liverpool star sat out the first game, a one-nil loss to Uruguay, after still recovering from a shoulder injury sustained from the Champions League final.

He is arguably Egypt’s best player when fit, and he showed the past two games even when he considered himself playing at 50 percent.

Mo Salah has failed to live up to the hype not because of his performances, but because of the overwhelming expectations after a career season with Liverpool.

Lionel Messi

One of the best players in the world. No questions asked. Leo Messi has done it all at club level. Surrounded by some of the best players in world football, Messi and Co. have dominated the competition, winning everything possible with Barcelona.

But the same can’t be said with the Argentine national team. Messi has yet to win a major honour with his country at the senior level despite boasting talented teammates like Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, and Gonzalo Higuaín to name a few.

Messi has led La Albiceleste to the World Cup finals back in 2014, eventually losing to current champions Germany after a Mario Götze winner. But he has been disappointing in the current edition of the tournament, drawing one-one with minnows Iceland while losing Three-nil to Croatia, all while scoring zero goals and providing zero assists in 180 minutes.

With their qualification hopes on the line in the final group stage game against Nigeria, Leo Messi needs to prove to the world that he can elevate his play while playing for a team not named Barcelona.

Not winning the World Cup will do nothing to change the fact that Messi is one of the best in the world, but winning it will cement his place among the best in history.

Thomas Muller

The Bayern winger is chasing history, with ten goals in two World Cups, Muller has the chance to equal or even exceed Miroslav Klose’s record of 16 World Cup goals.

To put that into perspective, England has scored 11 goals in three appearances since 2006. Muller was not really known to be good at any particular aspect of the game, but with over 100 goals for Bayern, it would be safe to say that he’s good in scoring.

But in this year’s edition, he has nothing to show for in 180 minutes of play. Muller has not been his best during their shock 1-0 defeat to Mexico, uncharacteristically losing the ball in midfield and looking lost when the opponent had the ball.

Entering the prime of his career, Muller is looking to add to his tally and help Germany qualify to the knock out rounds in hopes to be the first team in decades to defend their World Cup title.