FIFA 2018 World Cup: Team of the tournament
FIFA 2018 World Cup: Team of the tournament
The FIFA World Cup is now behind us, but the hangover of 30 days of heart-pounding, exhilarating action of football has now set in. Also, it’s time we draw out our analysis sheets and dissect a few things from the tournament. How about forming the dream team of the best performers?
Here’s how the team of the tournament would look like:
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
Lloris could’ve walked in here, but his howler in the finals showed there’s kink in his armor too. That left the door ajar for Courtois, who joined some legendary names such as Olivier Kahn, Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon to win the Golden Gloves. The towering Belgian kept three cleansheets in 7 appearances, but made 27 saves in the process – the highest in the competition, warranting the honor of the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
Right-back: Kevin Trippier (England)
Trippier showed he can translate his club heroics on the international stage too as he played a pivotal role in England’s fourth place finish. He struck an outrageous freekick in the semis against Croatia but was the chief creator for his side, creating 24 chances – the most by any player in the tournament, including 15 from set-pieces.
Centre-back: Raphael Varane (France)
Varane has looked suspect at times for his club side Real Madrid, but he put in consistently good shifts at the back for Les Blues en route to the glory. His 44 clearances at the World Cup are unmatched as the Frenchman also helped build up from the back with his accurate passing.
Centre-back: Diego Godin (Uruguay)
Making it to the team of the tournament despite not finishing above the quarter-finals with the team really means something, and Godin meant only business at the World Cup. The Atletico star was once again the impenetrable bulwark to Uruguay’s fortress and linked up well with Gimenez to block channels and nip all dangers in the bud with vigilant defending. His 13 interceptions were highest for a defender in the competition.
Left-back: Lucas Hernandez (France)
Varane, Umtiti and Pavard, three of the French backfour, have all hogged the limelight for their heroics at some stage in the competition, leaving Hernandez relatively overlooked. But his contributions in the success are just as important. He protected the left flank with great aplomb, trying to block the crosses or getting the ball out of any danger looming from that position. He also won the most tackles in the tournament with 16, and also laid 2 assists, the second of which came in the finals while connecting with Mbappe for his goal.
Midfielder: Paul Pogba (France)
Pogba successfully shrugged off his club issues with a stellar World Cup campaign. He started it by forcing a winner in the opening game to Australia, and ended it with a brilliant strike in the finals, becoming the first player to score from outside the box since 1982. In between, Pogba continued to climb up the ladder of consistency. He helped out in the defense and also drove forward at every opportunity, stringing together a slew of passes to keep France ticking.
Midfielder: Luka Modric (Croatia)
He was quiet subdued in the finals, but that won’t undermine the prolific campaign Modric has had. The Real Madrid midfield dynamo was at the heart of everything right that Croatia did, passing the ball around with intent whilst also scoring twice in the first two games to help the Blazers get off to a fine start. He also has an assist to his name and was worthy of the Golden Ball bestowed on him after the finals.
Midfielder: Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Hazard was deployed in a more advanced role on the wings for Belgium, and that helped him flex his attacking chops to the hilt. The Chelsea talisman was critical in Belgium’s third place finish, running the rings around the defenses with his nimble feet and magical dribbles, whilst also laying things on the plate for Lukaku and De Bruyne. He scored in the playoffs against England, his third goal of the competition, and also took home the Silver Ball. Hazard finally delivered in a major international as his value now in the market has gone through the roof.
Right winger: Kylian Mbappe (France)
A revelation of this World Cup, Mbappe reaffirmed his legend-in-the-making credentials by playing a starring role in France’s campaign throughout. He added an extra bit of spice to France’s game with his marauding runs and ended the campaign with 4 goals, the last of which was an eye-catching long ranger in the finals that made him just the second teenager after Pele in 1958 to score in the showpiece clash. No surprises in seeing him pick up the ‘Best Young Player’ award.
Left-winger: Ivan Perisic (Croatia)
After a relatively mediocre group stage, Perisic grew in the tournament as Croatia gradually advanced. He scored and assisted against England to turn the semi-final fixture around, before scoring the equalising goal in the finals with a spectacular finish. He ended the campaign as the Croatian with the most goal involvement in major tournaments with 11 – scoring 7 and assisting 4, including figures from this competition.
Striker: Antoine Griezmann (France)
Despite never really hitting the throttle, Griezmann continued to have an important role in France’s progress at every step of the way. He forced the opener in the finals with a terrific free-kick, before restoring France’s lead from the spot. In all, he struck 4 times and assisted twice, majority of which came in the knockout rounds. He picked up the Bronze Ball as the third best player of the tournament as well as the Silver Boot for being the most prolific of the World Cup behind only Kane.