With 21 World Cups having taken place since the esteemed football tournament’s inception in 1930 – football fans have been treated to some incredible individual performances that will stand the test of time.
The 22nd instalment of the quadrennial event is currently underway in Qatar – the first ever to be held in the Middle East – and it too has produced some awe-inspiring displays of individual brilliance that will be remembered long after the World Cup concludes on December 18.
With that in mind, read on as we take a look at some of the best performances at the World Cup throughout the group stages to date.
Kylian Mbappe – France vs Australia
In what is arguably the most impressive showing of any player at this year’s World Cup, 23-year-old Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe tore the Socceroos’ defence to shreds. Registering a goal in the 68th minute and an assist in the 72nd, Mbappe’s speed, vision and skill made it an absolute match-up nightmare for Australia’s right-back Nathaniel Atkinson.
Mbappe continued his rich vein of form against the world number ten ranked side Denmark, recording two goals en route to a 2-0 victory – thus booking France a round of 16 berth. His brace against the Danes ensured the wonderkid surpassed 30 international goals, the second most of any Frenchman – behind only Thierry Henry who has 51.
As a result of his incredible start, Mbappe is currently the favourite in the world cup golden boot odds – garnering a short price of 5/2.
Adrej Kramaric – Croatia vs Canada
After conceding the first goal to Canada inside the first two minutes, Croatia’s chances of repeating their 2018 World Cup success appeared to be going up in smoke. It took one of the Vatreni’s most experienced statesmen to get them back into the contest, with Andrej Kramaric opening Croatia’s goalscoring with a calculated finish across the goalkeeper.
The 76-cap international picked up where he left off in the second half, producing a cool finish to bag a second and put his team 3-1 up with 20 minutes remaining – ensuring the game was out of reach for Alphonso Davies and company. To no-one’s surprise, Kramaric’s performance earnt him man of the match honours.
Richarlison – Brazil vs Serbia
When Tite decided to pick Tottenham Hotspur’s Richarlison over Gabriel Jesus for the main striker role at the World Cup – there were many who felt that would prove to be the wrong decision. Jesus has been in exceptional form for his club Arsenal, notching up five goals and six assists in 14 Premier League games this season. Contrast that with Richarlison, whose three assists in ten games makes for poor reading.
However, its Richarlison’s prior performances for his country that was the reason behind his selection. It paid dividends in their first group fixture, with the 25-year-old finding the back of the net on two occasions, the second of which was an unbelievable display of skill and acrobatics.
Aaron Mooy – Australia vs Tunisia
After being thumped 4-1 by France in their opening game, many expected the Socceroos to fall to their second consecutive defeat when they took on African nation Tunisia. The Tunisians would’ve been particularly confident given their showing against Denmark, in which they held the Kasper Hjulmand-managed side goalless en route to an unexpected draw.
However, the Australians still have enough talent littered in their squad to be competitive. And that they were, in large part thanks to a brilliant performance from their midfielder Aaron Mooy. Although Mooy didn’t register a goal or an assist, it was his patience, precision passing and control in the Socceroos’ engine room which ultimately proved the difference between the two sides as Australia upset their African opponents 1-0. It was nothing short of a clinical display from the former Premier League and current Scottish Premiership Football player.
Cody Gakpo – Netherlands vs Senegal
Similarly to Kylian Mbappe, it’s not just one Cody Gakpo performance that has stood out at this year’s World Cup, with the 23-year-old scoring in all of the Netherlands’ three group games. In doing so, he became just the second player to open the scoring three times in the same group stage of a World Cup.
His form is a worrying sign for Premier League teams not named Manchester United, with the PSV Eindhoven forward having reportedly agreed to a deal with the Red Devils.