Fifa World Cup: how Chinese Super League stars are having a huge impact on Russia 2018
There are nine Chinese Super League players at the World Cup and they have already been involved in some memorable moments, with a chance for more to come
Despite its financial might over the last few years, the Chinese Super League remains a minor player in the world of football. But even though only nine of its stars were called up to play in Russia this month, those selected have had a massive impact.
Here’s how they got on in the third round of group games:
Kim Young-gwon, South Korea
As World Cup memories go, the Guangzhou Evergrande central defender has grown into this one. He defended like a boss in all of Korea’s three games but more than that he added to the experience and his legacy by bagging the winner to send holders Germany out.
The video assistant referee had his say but as social media declared “Don’t mention the VAR.”
Javier Mascherano, Argentina
The captain – and perhaps coach? – saw his side through but laid everything on the line to do so. Mascherano was bloodied for much of the match against Nigeria, to the point where onlookers were worried, and he also gave away a penalty for the Albiceleste because of an overzealous attempt to control a defender at a set-piece.
Mascherano had the last laugh, as he has had many times before in his illustrious career, but the cracks are beginning to show.
Axel Witsel and Yannick Carrasco, Belgium
The CSL lads were rested as Belgium beat England’s reserves. Belgium, who are now fancied to go all the way, play Japan next. There’s a chance the CSL could have two World Cup winners.
John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo, Nigeria
Livid would be the best way to describe Nigeria captain Mikel after his side failed to secure a potentially match-winning second penalty against Argentina.
The Tianjin Teda’s man’s fury would have been better directed at his teammate Ighalo, who was culpable at least twice of missing chances that seemed easier to score. The striker has even reportedly received death threats.
Jose Fonte, Portugal
Fuming. The skipper was livid and called VAR “unacceptable” following the Iran game, as the Iberians hoped to tip neighbours Spain to top spot. “This World Cup is just crazy!” he said.
Dusko Tosic, Serbia
The Serbian not-quite-CSL player proved he will be an addition to the mainland but he never made the line-up to play Brazil. International career over?
Renato Augusto, Brazil
Did not play once more, but Brazil are through. The Beijing Guoan man might yet win a World Cup.