Johannesburg - As England reflect on what could have been, following their Soccer World Cup semi-final defeat in Russia, City Press looks at some of their individual stars and how the tournament might have changed their respective careers.
Tottenham’s talismanic striker did not have the perfect World Cup campaign and might look back at some of the chances he squandered with regret. However, on the balance of play, the England captain lived up to expectations and led from the front with six goals in five games. The 24-year-old is a proven goal scorer at the highest level and his value has been steadily climbing over the years. His World Cup campaign will have helped support his reputation as a top striker.
The Manchester City star had to endure a difficult time in Russia as he was often criticised for not producing the same quality performances that saw him help Pep Guardiola’s side clinch the Premier League title last season. The winger failed to find the back of the net, despite often playing further up the pitch than he is used to. However, that might in fact be why the 23-year-old struggled to find his form.
Stones flew slightly under the radar at the World Cup, which is not unexpected as a centre-back, but he was one of England’s most consistent players. He showed good composure on the ball and made few mistakes in defence. The Manchester City man also showcased his aerial prowess with two headed goals, albeit against lowly Panama. Stones is already considered a top Premier League defender and has further grown in stature at the World Cup.
The young Everton goalkeeper was something of an unknown quantity outside of the UK when he arrived in Russia, having made only three England appearances ahead of the tournament. However, he enjoyed a stellar World Cup that saw him showcase his excellent reflexes and shot-stopping ability. He made the odd mistake, but, overall, would count the tournament as a huge success.
The promising Tottenham talent failed to shine at the World Cup and made only four appearances due to a knock he picked up in the opening game against Tunisia. He returned to the fray against Colombia in the last 16. Alli did show glimpses of what he is capable of in the 2-0 win against Sweden in the quarter-finals, scoring after making a well-timed run.
The Manchester United winger couldn’t find consistency throughout the tournament and arguably had only two good performances out of five. The 25-year-old was fantastic against Panama and scored a brilliant goal on the day. He also provided a pin-point assist against Sweden, but he fell flat in the other fixtures and seemed to lack his usual energy.