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Ranking every World Cup side on how much of a ‘one-man team’ they are

Name me another South Korea player other than Son Hueng-min. I dare you!

Most teams have a star player.

But when the gap between the best and rest reaches a certain stage, you’ve got the makings of a one-man team.


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Here we rank every World Cup side on how dependant they are on a single player.

For everyone’s sake, we have grouped together all the teams who we believe to have relatively low dependence on a standout performer and ranked them equal lowest.

Yay for team spirit!

EPA
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Yay for team spirit!

The teams who share the load relatively evenly are: Peru, Iceland, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, Japan, Nigeria, Croatia, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Spain.

Now, let’s get into the rest…

16 Sweden

Zlatan who?

AP:Associated Press
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Zlatan who?

The good-looking Scandies would like to think they’re not a one-man team in the slightest.

All the talk in Sweden is of the superb team spirit in the wake of Zlatan Ibrahimiovic’s conscious uncoupling from the national side.

However, Emil Forsberg is still the man who makes them tick.

If the RB Leipzig playmaker struggles for form, it’s difficult to see them getting out of the group stage.

15 Brazil

55 international goals and counting…

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55 international goals and counting…

Woah, put down your pitchforks.

We know Tite has an army of talented players at his disposal this summer, but Neymar is still very much the main man.

His talismanic efforts on home soil four years ago was put into perspective when Brazil were hammered 7-1 by Germany in his (and Thiago Silva’s) absence.

14 Serbia

Who likes short shorts?

AFP or licensors
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Who likes short shorts?

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is relatively new to international football with just four caps to his name at the time of writing.

The 6ft 4in Lazio midfielder comes with a price tag in excess of £100million as rumours of a high-profile move persist.

Serbia have a host of familiar names in their squad (yes, Branislav Ivanovic is still kicking about) but it’s the double-barrelled rising star who holds the weight of expectation on his broad shoulders.

13 Senegal

Stepping out of Salah’s shadow

AP:Associated Press
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Stepping out of Salah’s shadow

The Lions of Teranga are actually the closest thing to a two-man team the World Cup has to offer.

Man mountain Kalidou Koulibaly is the rock at centre-back while Sadio Mane provides the excitement in attack.

The Liverpool forward’s team-mates will be looking to him to spark a rampage that could trample a few big names.

12 Mexico

The boy they call ‘Chucky’

Getty Images - Getty
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The boy they call ‘Chucky’

There’s never a dull moment when Hirving Lozano is in town.

The 22-year-old winger lit up the Eredivisie last season with PSV and has his sights set on a breakout campaign in Russia.

Mexicans everywhere will be hoping Lozano can resist a petulant hissy-fit and focus his energy on embarrassing defenders instead.

11 England

Sir Harold of Kane

Getty - Contributor
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Sir Harold of Kane

Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and Dele Alli can all claim to be one of the best around in their respective positions.

But it’s generally accepted that Harry Kane is England’s solo world-class talent.

Every team needs someone to put the ball in the net, and in Kane the Three Lions can rely on one of the most prolific goalscorers in the world.

10 Colombia

Up for a sequel?

AFP or licensors
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Up for a sequel?

Similar to Brazil and England in that they have a few notable players but one universally recognised star.

James Rodriguez inspired Colombia to an entertaining quarter-final showing four years ago and their fans will be hoping he can replicate his Golden Boot-winning form in Russia.

9 Iran

Profile pic material

Getty - Contributor
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Profile pic material

If you don’t know about Alireza Jahanbakhsh then now’s the time.

Last season, the 24-year-old became the first Asian player to finish as top scorer in a major European league by virtue of his 21 goals for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.

Iran have been dealt a tough hand in Group B alongside Morocco, Portugal and Spain, but in Jahanbakhsh they have a weapon capable of inflicting an upset.

8 Portugal

When you check the Ballon d’Or odds

Getty - Contributor
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When you check the Ballon d’Or odds

Cristiano Ronaldo is the focal point in any team he plays in.

These days he’s more of a poacher than someone who contributes to multiple facets of the game but his imperious scoring record makes him the standout asset in Portugal’s squad.

7 Russia

He may be able to afford a decent barnet after the World cup

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He may be able to afford a decent barnet after the World cup

The hosts are in bad shape heading into the tournament.

Aleksandr Golovin will have to play like a man possessed to drag his side out of the groups and beyond.

Man United and Juventus are admirers of the technical midfielder’s talent and the 22-year-old may use the tournament as a platform to earn himself a high-profile transfer.

6 Poland

Not convinced by this celebration

AFP or licensors
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Not convinced by this celebration

Not unlike Portugal in that they have several key players but the sheer volume of goals scored by their centre-forward is impossible to overlook.

Robert Lewandowski goes into his first World Cup having broken the record for most goals in a European qualifying campaign — helped by a pair of hat-tricks.

5 Morocco

“Now do a silly one”

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“Now do a silly one”

The north African team didn’t concede a single goal during qualification.

They have Juventus centre-back Medhi Benatia to thank for that impressive record.

However, Ajax star Hakim Ziyech is their leading man.

He’ll take every set-piece and will look to catch opponents unaware with a killer pass on the break.

If Morocco are going to score against Spain or Portugal in the group stages, Ziyech will surely be involved in some capacity.

4 Denmark

This t-shirt is actually being sold in Denmark

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This t-shirt is actually being sold in Denmark

The top four teams on this list are sides you can label as ‘one-men teams’ without guilt.

Christian Eriksen is the cover star of every football magazine in Denmark this month.

The Spurs midfielder bagged a stunning hat-trick against the Republic of Ireland to ensure qualification and is the beating heart of the national side.

3 Argentina

Recognise him?

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Recognise him?

15th November 2016.

That’s the last time an Argentina player other than Lionel Messi scored in a competitive fixture.

The 2014 finalists boast half a dozen household names but if you’ve watched any of them in the last two years, you’ll know how reliant they are on their five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

As as far as one-man teams go, you don’t get any better than Messi.

2 Egypt

Not a sling in sight

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Not a sling in sight

It’s impossible to underestimate Mohamed Salah’s celebrity status in Egypt.

Right now the country is willing their star player’s shoulder to heal as quick as possible.

The Liverpool forward’s goals propelled the Pharaohs to qualification for the first time since 1990 — with his dramatic stoppage time penalty Congo sparking rapturous scenes.

1 South Korea

Lucky 13…

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Lucky 13…

Name another South Korea player in the squad other than Son Heung-min.

Go on, we dare you.

Rack your brains for long enough and you’ll probably arrive at Swansea’s Ki Sung-yueng — if you can think of anyone else then you’re probably in the squad yourself.

South Korea could well taking a pasting in Group F.

No pressure Son, but it’s all down to you.


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