A dejected Brazilan player lays on the ground.

The 2018 World Cup in Russia is almost over, so we take stock of the tournament’s biggest disappointments...

David De Gea

David De Gea had a World Cup to forget as the gloveman’s clanger in the Iberian derby helped Portugal to a 3-3 draw against Spain. His form was so bad in the group stage that there was speculation he might be dropped for the last-16 tie against Russia, but the Manchester United man played and wound up as the losing goalkeeper in the shootout. All in all, De Gea recorded just a single save at the tournament.

Highly rated forwards

The much-vaunted Brazil strike force of Neymar and Gabriel Jesus failed to impress. The latter didn’t score a single goal while Neymar could only muster two. Poland, widely tipped to advance from their group, finished bottom and star striker Robert Lewandowski also failed to hit the back of the net, and the same was true for Germany’s Timo Werner. Egypt’s star forward Mohamed Salah, meanwhile, didn’t make an impact either as he struggled for fitness in Russia.

Africa and South America

African sides registered wins in just 20% of their matches and despite Senegal’s efforts, no African team advanced into the knockout round. The South Americas had it better, with four teams in the second round, yet none of those sides made it as far as the last four – the first time since 2006 that there hasn’t been a South American presence in the semi-finals.

The draw

Questions must be asked when a team’s defeat to a rival and second-place finish in a group result in an easier draw. Yet that is exactly what happened when Belgium beat England. To reach the final, the Belgians were required to beat both Brazil and France despite topping their group. Should England reach the final, Gareth Southgate’s side wouldn’t have faced a side ranked higher than 16 in the world.

The missing

The World Cup started without two of its most successful teams as Italy, four times champions, failed to qualify, and the same fate befell three-times finalists the Netherlands, robbing Russia of the colourful orange-clad Dutch fans. South American champions Chile have been fixtures in the knockout stages of several recent World Cups, yet they too missed out on qualification. As did African giants Cameroon and Ghana, the latter of which failing to qualify for a fourth straight World Cup.

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