No event escalates individuals to the status of national hero or global villain as dramatically as the World Cup. The idolatry that follows success and the stigma that follows failure are woven into the fabric of history, and the repercussions will typically follow footballers for the rest of their lives. Daily, we’ll take a look at who played the role of hero and who played the role of villain at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Heroes and Villains of the World Cup: Matchday Six
Hero: Artem Dzyuba (Russia)
Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov stuck with the 4-2-3-1 formation that had served the nation so well in its opening match, but Artem Dzyuba, who scored one minute after coming on against Saudi Arabia, replaced Fyodor Smolov as the starting striker.
Do we like the 6-4 comrade who played the last half of the club season with relative unknown Arsenal Tula? Yes. He’s got the heart of a Tolstoy war hero mixed with the feet of Anna Pavlova.
Russia’s third goal was undoubtedly the pick of the bunch, and it was a remarkable individual effort from Dzyuba.
He’s now one behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Golden Boot.
Honorable mention: Aliou Cisse (Senegal)
A former player for PSG, Birmingham City and Portsmouth, Aliou Cisse took charge of his native country back in 2015 and just delivered his nation its biggest win since defeating Sweden in the Round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup (it’s actually the country’s first World Cup win since then).
"You up."*Text bubble appears* pic.twitter.com/ahgS5CeAO9
— The18 (@the18com) June 19, 2018
How about this for a tactical masterstroke?! “Waaaait for it…NOW FLY YOU FOOL!”
Villain(s): The Sanchez Boys (Colombia)
You wait four years, then, in the space of three minutes, it’s over. Colombia’s not out, but what a disastrous start los Cafeteros experienced in Russia. The Sanchez boys, Carlos and Davinson, combined to put Colombia in a massive hole with the match just begun.
First, Davinson was caught napping as Japan sliced through Colombia's defense with ease. Then, Carlos handled the follow-up shot and was given his marching orders. This was no time to pull a Luis Suarez save out of the bag.
Honorable mention: Hector Cuper (Egypt)
After telling us all that Mohamed Salah was ready to go against Uruguay, Cuper kept the Liverpool ace on the bench and Egypt ultimately got what was coming. Against Russia, Salah started from the off but Egypt absolutely collapsed over a torrid 15-minute stretch to start the second half.
Egypt will leave the tournament wondering what might have been, and Cuper figures heavily into that question.