A good chunk of Serie A players who were called up for the World Cup have already been eliminated, so it is time to review their performances in Russia. First off, Sami Khedira was part of the Germany team that flopped big time and he did not have good showings at all. He started in the two games they lost, against Mexico and South Korea, and was replaced in both for offensive purposes. In the other match, Rudy was picked over him.
The veteran did not look at ease in a two-man midfield and had troubles containing opponents, often looking too slow and lethargic. He was also unable to contribute offensively in such a position: with the Bianconeri, he usually plays as box-to-box and the sneaky cuts through the back-line are the best weapon in his arsenal. Earlier in the summer, it seemed like he could be on his way out, but he is now negotiating an extension with the Old Lady.
Another Juventus centre-piece was eliminated in the group stage, even though in this case it was not a shocker: Morocco finished last, behind Spain, Portugal and Iran. The Atlas Lions put up a fight, but were just too toothless and also unlucky in the debut against Persians, whose result put them in big troubles.
Medhi Benatia started the two first games and held up defensively, in particular against Cristiano Rolando. However, he did not convert a couple of juicy chances on set pieces and that ended up hurting the team. He was solid last season and stepped up in the second half of the season, becoming a vital part of the Bianconeri defence, but he is not a lock to stay put: if the management found an upgrade at a feasible cost, he could be on the move.
Senegal did not go far either, despite a promising start. Torino’s Mbaye Niang contributed to the win over Poland with a mildly controversial goal, where he sprinted on a loose ball after being attended to for an injury on the sideline. He had an assist against Japan as well and was very active in general. Two noteworthy performances that raise his profile and could increase his chances to leave Torino, where he was underutilized by new coach Walter Mazzarri and has little chances to be a starter.
Kalidou Koulibaly was sturdy as usual, but his physicality did not prevent the Teranga Lions from conceding some avoidable goals. He has been highly sought after in the past couple of summers, but the Partenopei will likely resist and keep him at Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal unless they are presented with a godfather offer.
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