FIFA 2018 World Cup: The best debutants XI
FIFA 2018 World Cup: The best debutants XI
Participating in a World Cup is every footballer’s dream. There’s no greater pleasure than representing your country on football’s biggest platform. Some grab the opportunity and shine, while some slinker away without getting noticed.
However, the experience is unparalleled. At Russia, there are many such players who’ll realise their dream of competing in a World Cup. We commingle them into one single combined XI of the best debutants from each position!
Goalkeeper: Marc Andre Ter-Stegan (Germany)
Perplexing as it seems, but Ter-Stegan really hasn’t played in a World Cup before. And at 26, has finally earned a chance with Die Mannschaft. The Barcelona shotstopper has been in terrific form for the Spanish champions, but would be used as a substitute to Joachim Loew’s first-choice keeper Manuel Neuer.
Right-back: Dani Carvajal (Spain)
Carvajal has been a mainstay in Real Madrid’s backline since 2013, but only makes his debut in Russia. The 2014 World Cup came a bit too soon for him, but he’s ready to take the right fullback mantle in Julen Lopetegui’s Spanish set-up.
He’s currently recovering from an injury he sustained in the Champions League final last month. But is well on his way to recovery.
Centre-back: Marquinhos (Brazil)
Marquinhos has been a part of Brazil side for several years, but this is his first World Cup. And he’s just 24. The PSG star has been growing from strength to strength since making his debut in 2013 and was an integral part of the Seleccao team that won the Olympic gold medal on home soil in 2016.
Centre-back: Samuel Umtiti (France)
Umtiti immediately thrust himself into the limelight after donning the azulgrana of Barcelona, and has been a mainstay at the heart of their backline since the switch in 2016. His rise to prominence in the side has coincided with his growing importance with Les Blues too, and will hope to put on resolute showings for France, who aim to go one better than their Euro 2016 finish.
Left-back: Danny Rose (England)
The Tottenham Hotspur fullback hopped from one subaltern English outfit to another, but finally found his footing in the white half of the North London. He’s grown into a key figure on the Spurs backline, and despite missing a large chunk of last season due to injury, has been chosen in England’s 23-man squad by manager Southgate, a testament to his importance to the Three Lions too.
Central defensive midfielder: Nemanja Matic (Serbia)
The 29-year old established himself as among the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League while his time at Chelsea, and then carried his good form while moving to Manchester United last summer. Matic was a promising youngster when Serbia qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but wasn’t selected in the squad. This time around, he is a key figure in the side and his experience would be vital to Serbia’s slim hopes.
Centre-midfielder: N’Golo Kante (France)
Leicester City’s fairytale Premier League triumph in 2015/16 season was down to a terrific team effort, and the engine that kept the juggernaut ticking was N’Golo Kante. The Frenchman’s work-rate is quite unparalleled and brings perfect balance to his team. He was an important member of the Blues that romped to the finals of the Euros, and replicating similar vein of form at the World Cup would help France go deep in Russia too.
Attacking midfielder: Isco (Spain)
Isco’s persistence finally paid off as he became a regular in the Real Madrid side of 2017/18. He played a starring role in their Champions League triumph and that has also helped him attain a place in Spain’s starting XI too. If his hattrick against Argentina is anything to go by, then he’s ready to take Russia by storm.
Right-winger: Nebil Fekir (France)
A big name in France’s Ligue 1 division, Fekir just has the best season of his career and despite missing a few games through injury, he ended racking up 16 goals last season for Lyon. In a French squad brimming with talent, his burst of speed and intelligent movements inside the box make an asset.
Left-winger: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Salah’s historic campaign with Liverpool is reason enough to follow Egypt’s games at the World Cup. Even if the shoulder injury has kept him out action since last month, he’s expected to be fit by the opening game against Uruguay and his scoring exploits would be crucial to take the Pharaoh’s far into the tournament.
Striker: Harry Kane (England)
Since he got the breakthrough in 2015/16 season, Kane hasn’t looked back. A litany of goals in the Premier League has already touted him to become of the greatest strikers in the division someday. His England career has been quite happening one too, but failed to show up at the Euro 2016, scoring just once in 4 appearances.
Now coming off the back of his career-best season with Spurs, Kane looks ready to emulate his scoring prowess on the international stage too.