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World Cup 2018 Best XI

Vive le France!

Yes, the World Cup has wrapped up its 2018 edition and the tourney was one for the ages. At least in my memory, this has been the best World Cup we’ve ever seen. While it may be fair to say there was no one superstar that took the tournament by the scruff of its neck, that’s likely a factor that lead to the overall quality and drama the prevailed. I’ve put together a Best XI (plus bench/runners up) and some thoughts on why I made the picks I made.

Goalkeeper – While he was one match short of truly glorious, Daniejl Subašić was one of the Croatia’s true heroes with 2 clean sheets, 15 recorded saves, and a whopping 4 saves from the two penalty shootouts with Denmark and Russia.

Center Backs – I really wanted to stick to only three players per team, but I just couldn’t leave Raphael Varane off the list. So France, you get four players (you did win the World Cup after all). It was only right for me to put in a back 3 since that style is so en vogue and it was a pretty easy call to include England’s Harry Maguire whose stock has shot through the roof. Expect a big money transfer away from Leicester in the next few weeks. It was a bit tougher to choose between Colombia’s Yerry Mina and Croatia’s Domagoj Vida. But 3 goals in 4 matches for Mina gives him the nod. Plus, I couldn’t reward Vida’s hairstyle in good conscious (even if rumors of a move to Liverpool end up being true).

Wing BacksKieran Tripier might just about be my biggest surprise of the tournament. He had a beauty of a set piece goal plus an assist and just looked in command running up and down the right wing for England (as well as being in charge of free kicks). It was a bit tougher to pick a left wing back, but I settled on Diego Laxalt for the 3 clean sheets he contributed to for Uruguay as opposed to Marcelo‘s 2 for Brazil.

Midfielders – It’s so unfair to only include N’Golo Kanté on the bench but if I have to chose between him and Paul Pogba and Luka Modrić, what can I do? Modrić’s 2 goals and 1 assist and Pogba’s single goal do not fully record the importance of both players to their teams. When we think back on this World Cup in years to come, it may well be remembered as the showdown of these two brilliant midfielders. Takashi Inui‘s commanding performance for Japan (2 goals, 1 assist) and Denis Cheryshev‘s for Russia (4 goals) helped propel their teams much further than expected and earned them both spots on the bench.

Forwards – Was it the tournament of Kylian Mbappe? At only 19 years old he will surely have many more big stages on which to perform but with 4 goals, the secret is out. Harry Kane took the Golden Boot with 6 goals (3 of them PKs) so he has to be included, even if it was his lack of scoring in those last games that contributed to England’s demise. But all in all, England fans should be proud of Sir Harry of Kane. And I felt justice was served to include Eden Hazard as a starter if for no other reason that his performance might have just about earned him a record-breaking transfer to Real Madrid in the next few weeks (oh and 3 goals and 2 assists is a good reason as well). Interestingly Hazard was the only Belgian to make my squad, perhaps as a sign that Belgium was one of the most “complete teams” with everyone looking good and no one looking far better. My bench includes Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani for his 3 scorching goals along with Brazil’s Coutinho who scored 2 goals and had 2 assists and is just so damn fun to watch.

Yes, it was damn fun to watch, and I hope you enjoyed my power rankings and these thoughts. Drop me a line or leave a comment and let me know if you agree or not.

Posted by enderzero at 7:59pm on Jul. 16, 2018