After three of the group stages at the 2018 World Cup have come to their conclusion, none of Aston Villa’s three players at the tournament remain in the competition.
The first player to learn his fate in the Russian tournament was Ahmed Elmohamady, who made a grand total of zero appearances for the Egyptian National Team. With Egypt looking to lack some attacking threat in some of their group stage games, a more attack-minded wing-back may have been a good option for the side that hosted Premier League top scorer Mo Salah.
Elmohamady will be disappointed to have travelled to the World Cup for nothing but to watch his team fail to exit the group that contained hosts Russia, the Green Falcons of Saudi Arabia and Uruguay, with the former and latter qualifying for the last sixteen.
Mile Jedinak was the next Aston Villa player to be dumped out of the World Cup – but the Australian captain had a much larger impact than his team mate Ahmed Elmohamady.
The 33-year-old Defensive Midfielder looked confident as he slotted two VAR awarded penalties into the back of the net, one against group favourites France in their opening game – a 2-1 loss.
His other goal at the tournament came against Denmark in a 1-1 draw.
Jedinak’s final game of the tournament was a make-or-break game for the Socceroos, but the only real impact that Mile could muster against Peru in a 2-0 loss was a yellow card for a high footed challenge.
Birkir Bjarnason had a relatively successful tournament for Iceland at their first ever World Cup, playing just under the full 270 minutes available to him.
His first game at a World Cup tournament came against strong opposition in Argentina, with his home country of Iceland shocking the footballing world by achieving a 1-1 draw and nullifying Lionel Messi.
Perhaps Bjarnason’s best moment in Russia was the Argentina game, with Lionel Messi “in his pocket” as it were throughout the game – with the South American maestro exchanging shirts with Villa’s very own Thor.
His next game was a 2-0 loss against Nigeria, with Bjarnason relatively unknown throughout the game.
Their final game, a 2-1 loss against group winners Croatia – saw Bjarnason get a lot of the ball but not do much with it. Before Iceland slotted home their equaliser at the time, Birkir missed what was perhaps the best chance of the game, wistfully touching the ball into the side netting.
Whilst his performance might not have been the best, he gave it his absolute all – shown by him collapsing on the sideline with around seven minutes to go until full time when he didn’t quite have the legs to reach the ball before it went out.
He was subbed off with a minute to go before extra time, just as Croatia put their second game of the goal past the Icelandic keeper.
Both Bjarnason and Jedinak had relatively successful tournaments for the size of their national teams, and it’s unfortunate that Elmohamady didn’t manage to make an appearance.
Words by Regan Foy (@FindFoy) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)