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Ranking the World Cup cart horses – who is the best ‘lump’ in Russia?

Some of the football so far has been questionable, so is this the tournament for the non-scoring centre-forward?

I’d just like to deliver an early warning that if you’ve arrived here to read about sexy football, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Because sometimes the beautiful game can get a little bit, shall we say, oafy.


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The great British oaf

PA:Press Association
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The great British oaf

The World Cup in Russia has been the perfect blend of audacious flair and route one, no-nonsense style so far.

And I’m here to appreciate the latter, deconstructing the art of the cart horse up front.

Not every striker can be a ruthless goalscoring machine like Cristiano Ronaldo.

The more subtle oaf

Rex Features
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The more subtle oaf

Not every forward can perfect the art of dropping the shoulder and leaving his marker for dead.

This is a piece paying homage to those giant lumps who don’t fit into either category, but do things their own way instead…

6 Andreas Cornelius – Denmark

Dance for me, Andreas

AP:Associated Press
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Dance for me, Andreas

At 1.93m high and 91kg, our first lump on the list was once a colossal waste of space for Cardiff.

Cornelius was bought from FC Copenhagen for a club-record £9m in 2013 but was sent back the way he came from just six months later.

The now Atalanta striker is playing second fiddle to Nicolai Jorgensen for Denmark in Russia but we’ve seen him in patches towards the end of both their group games so far.

His 22-minute cameo against Australia was peak lump mentality, completing just 50% of his passes but winning six aerial duels – the highest of any Danish player.

5 Ola Toivonen – Sweden

Liquid football

AFP
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Liquid football

Another cart horse whose short spell in the Premier League wasn’t exactly memorable.

Toivonen had a brief spell on loan at Sunderland during their utterly miserable final season in the Premier League under David Moyes in 2015/16, scoring a grand total of, er, none.

Following in the footsteps of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was never going to be easy but Toivonen’s 13 international goals in 60 appearances isn’t exactly prolific.

In Sweden’s opening win over South Korea centre-back Andreas Granqvist took their decisive penalty, which speaks volumes about their attacking options.

4 Haris Seferovic – Switzerland

50p head

Reuters
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50p head

Now we’re really talking cart horses.

Seferovic is that ‘put yourself about a bit’ hitman who makes a nuisance of himself seemingly without realising what he’s doing in the first place.

He scored just three times in each of his last two seasons at Eintracht Frankfurt, whilst managed just four in his debut campaign at Benfica last term.

Seferovic’s 12 goals in 52 international appearances may suggest why the Swiss are still so reliant on pieces of Xherdan Shaqiri magic.

3 Mario Gomez – Germany

Push the button

AFP
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Push the button

Go on. Push the button. You know you want to.

There’s no denying Gomez is a Bundesliga great but this is 2018 and Germany took him to a World Cup instead of PFA Young Player of the Year Leroy Sane.

With the Germans desperately pushing for an equaliser in their defeat to Mexico last weekend, Joachim Loew surely despaired at his options from the bench.

Gomez has always been fairly clinical but his creaking legs now means he falls into the cart horse category, unlike Sane.

2 Artem Dzyuba – Russia

Just a massive tree

AFP or licensors
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Just a massive tree

Two goals from two World Cup appearances so far for the man they call ‘The Tree’ in Russia.

And Dzyuba really is a growth, standing at 1.96m and as broad as they come too.

He’s part of a Russian side who have taken everyone by surprise so far and bullied Ahmed Hegazi during the 3-1 win over Egypt this week.

Briefly morphed into Dennis Bergkamp for his goal against the Egyptians, but he’s kidding no one long term.

1 Olivier Giroud – France

You don’t belong on this list, Olivier

AFP or licensors
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You don’t belong on this list, Olivier

If anyone can sprinkle a bit of magic dust on the role, it’s Giroud.

Because it’s really not fair to categorise him this way given his track record for both club and country.

Unfashionable yes, but look how much better France looked with him as a focal point against Peru, allowing the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe to buzz around him.

All hail Olivier, the most beautiful lump of them all.