Mexico trio, Cristiano Ronaldo lead World Cup team of the round
The first round of group stage games in the 2018 World Cup is complete, and already we've seen some standout performances. Matt Stanger picks the team of the round in Russia.
Goalkeeper: There were plenty of candidates to fill the goalkeeper position in Team of the Round, with Mohamed El-Shenawy impressing in Egypt's narrow 1-0 defeat to Uruguay and Guillermo Ochoa keeping Germany at bay. It's difficult to look past Hannes Halldorsson, though, after the Iceland No. 1 saved a penalty from Lionel Messi on his World Cup debut. It was surely the goalkeeper's greatest achievement since he directed the video for Iceland's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Right-back: Phwoar was the only word to sum up Nacho's stunning strike for Spain against Portugal, but having also conceded a penalty in the fourth minute, the Real Madrid right-back is edged out by Kieran Trippier. Making his debut for England at a major tournament, Trippier was remarkably assured, driving forward down the flank and delivering the sort of teasing crosses Spurs fans have come to expect. The 27-year-old floated in the corner that resulted in Harry Kane's winning goal, and with six key passes in total, he created more shooting opportunities than any other player in the first round of World Cup matches.
Centre-back: Speaking of composed debuts, Serbia's rising star Nikola Milenkovic delivered a performance that belied his tender years against Costa Rica. The 20-year-old was disciplined both in terms of position and possession to help his team record a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory. With Everton among the clubs currently tracking the centre-back, Milenkovic might have added a few more euros to Fiorentina's asking price.
Centre-back: Jose Gimenez crashed home the towering header that gave Uruguay a last-gasp victory against Egypt, but it was his Atletico Madrid teammate Diego Godin who really stood out. A veteran of 118 caps, the 32-year-old led by example from the back, bellowing orders and carrying the ball out of defence to inject some impetus into Uruguay's performance. It was a largely insipid display from the South Americans, but with Godin and Gimenez in this sort of form, they will prove a difficult team to beat.
Left-back: When Aleksandar Kolarov stepped up to take a free kick some 25 yards from goal, any Manchester City fans watching were surely screaming "Don't shoot!" at the TV. The left-back scored 11 goals from 247 shots during his time in the Premier League (or one every 22 attempts) and prompted groans from those subjected to his wayward punts on a regular basis. You need to get it right only once, though, and Kolarov certainly did that with his spectacular effort against Costa Rica. It's that wonderful technique that sees him still playing at the top level in Europe for AS Roma.
Right wing: He might feature on the right of this XI, but there's no doubting that Cristiano Ronaldo is the main man in the middle for Portugal. The 33-year-old was the standout star of the first round, scoring a devastating hat trick to salvage a 3-3 draw against Spain. Ronaldo also provided the moment of the tournament so far, powering home a last-gasp set piece to score his first direct free kick at a major finals at the 45th attempt. It was certainly worth waiting for.
Central midfield: It already feels like an age since Russia kicked off the World Cup against Saudi Arabia, but Aleksandr Golovin's display will live long in the memory. Russia had been billed as potentially the worst-performing hosts in history, but the CSKA Moscow midfielder quickly banished any fears among the home crowd. It was his sweeping cross that brought the opening goal for Iury Gazinsky, and he laid on another for Artem Dzyuba before rippling the net himself with a late free kick. With his teammate for club and country Alan Dzagoev ruled out of the group stage through injury, Russia will be looking to the reported Juventus and Manchester United target to maintain his creative spark.
Central midfield: Often tipped to star on the world stage, Hector Herrera has taken his time to put his stamp on a major tournament. The Porto dynamo dominated Germany's midfield in the shock result of Round 1, keeping a leash on Toni Kroos with a phenomenal eight tackles -- more than any other player in the opening matches. Now 28, Herrera is primed to make an impact at the 2018 tournament and will be crucial to Mexico's hopes of progression.
Left-wing: A popular pick on many World Cup "ones to watch" lists, Hirving Lozano lived up to his billing with the winning strike against Germany. The PSV live wire was a threat on the counterattack throughout, and he took his goal superbly to claim a huge three points for Juan Carlos Osorio's side. "Chucky," as Lozano is affectionately known, has been the subject of growing speculation regarding a summer move, and there will be plenty of scouts in attendance when Mexico take on South Korea on Saturday.
Striker: Despite the managerial crisis that overshadowed their tournament preparations, Spain showed signs of finding their rhythm against Portugal. It will have been particularly encouraging to new coach Fernando Hierro to see Diego Costa settle the debate over who should start in attack. The Atletico Madrid striker turned Jose Fonte inside-out to level the score in the first half, adding a second with a poacher's finish after the interval. If he maintains this sort of form, Costa should be able to banish the demons of his disappointing 2014 World Cup.
Striker: Harry Kane sneaks in ahead of Romelu Lukaku purely for the drama of his late winning goal against Tunisia. The striker managed only 33 touches Monday night -- the fewest of any outfield player to complete 90 minutes -- but popped up when it mattered to steer the ball into the corner with seconds remaining. His goals should boost England's confidence ahead of the Panama clash on Sunday.
Manager: "Play for the love of winning, not for the fear of losing," is what Juan Carlos Osorio told his Mexico players before they played Germany. The coach's positive message had the desired effect, granting him brief respite from the mounting pressure he had been under heading into the tournament.
Matthew Stanger covers European football for ESPN and is the editor of The Set Pieces. Twitter: @MatthewStanger