FIFA 2018 World Cup: The best XI of quarter-finals
FIFA 2018 World Cup: The best XI of quarter-finals
World Cup top shouts continued to slip up in the quarter-finals as Brazil were the biggest casualties, falling 2-1 to dark horses Belgium, just a day after their neighbors Uruguay were shut out in a 2-0 loss to France.
A very happening quarter-final, laying the groundwork for a cracking last 4 tomorrow. But here are the best players from the round:
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
Belgium (25/1 odds to win the World Cup) tactically outclassed Brazil in the stunning victory, but when the latter pushed high to force an equaliser, the towering Chelsea goalkeeper stood tall. The last line of the Belgian defense, Courtois made 9 saves on the night, twice more than any goalkeeper in the last 8, with the saves to deny Coutinho and Neymar being the pick of the bunch.
Right-back: Kevin Trippier (England)
A revelation for England in this tournament, Trippier continued to thrive in his rich vein of form with another solid display; making immaculate set-piece deliveries whilst also laying forward passes to keep his side pushing.
Centre-back: Raphael Varane (France)
Four years on from his defensive error against Germany leading to their ouster, Varane redeemed himself with a glancing header against Uruguay to set France on their way to the win. Besides that, he was also vigilante at the back to cut off supply lines to Suarez and drove the ball ahead on occasions to force a counter.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire (England)
From watching England’s Euro 2016 campaign from the stands as a fan to netting in the quarter-finals of a World Cup for his first international goal, Maguire’s ascendancy is nothing short of a fairytale. He’s been consistently brilliant at the back for the Three Lions, but gave a performance of his life against Sweden, creating 2 chances and winning 10 aerial duels, the most by a player in a single game in this competition.
Left-back: Ashley Young (England)
A polarising figure for both club and country, Young put in a good shift in the left wingback position to keep the Swedish attackers from conjuring anything from that flank, whilst also assisting Maguire for England’s opener with a fine delivery from a corner.
Right-midfielder: Jesse Lingard (England)
The Manchester United man didn’t really transcend his heroics of the previous season onto the Russian soil, with the fantastic goal against Panama being his only real moment of quality. But Lingard then added another moment of brilliance by picking out Dele Alli inside the area with a perfectly weighted cross. He also completed the most number of take ons by an English player in that game and was the most active in the attacking third.
Central midfielder: Paul Pogba (France)
Pogba has certainly liberated himself in Russia after a tumultuous club campaign, and continued to impress against Uruguay, connecting well with Mbappe and Griezmann whilst also laying that forward pass which led the Atletico star to score from, albeit fortuitously. He was immense in the defense too, winning the most number of headers and duels (14) than any player on the field.
Central midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
De Bruyne was like a player reborn in the false 9 role, switching with Lukaku and also creating plenty of chances. He rounded off the Belgium counter-attack with a delightful shot into the bottom corner that effectively sealed their fate.
Left-midfielder: Denis Cheryshev (Russia)
One of the surprises of the tournament, Cheryshev brought Russia’s campaign alive with his imperious scoring prowess, netting 4 times, the last of which was a superb effort against Croatia that is also a strong goal of the tournament contender. Particularly remembered for his failed Real Madrid stint, Cheryshev has painted himself a new player with a starring role in Russia’s impressive World Cup campaign.
Right winger: Antoine Griezmann (France)
The Atletico Madrid ace is finally finding his feet, netting a third against Uruguay although with a stroke of luck as Muslera fumbled with the shot. He was very much involved in the attack with his delicate passes, but also completed 5 tackles on the night to help out in the defense too.
Left-winger: Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Hazard just strengthened his claim for the Golden Ball with a talismanic show. He may not have been involved in either of Belgium’s goal against Brazil, his presence on the left wing was nevertheless immense, opening up the things with his magical dribbles. He completed all 10 of his take-ons, the most by a player with a 100% success since 1966!
Striker: Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Lukaku has literally kept his goalscoring prowess on the back burner to get involved more creatively. He followed up his brilliant dummy against Japan with a lung-bursting run through the heart of Brazil, fighting off Fernandinho and Paulinho, before laying off for De Bruyne to do the rest. Starting on the right, Lukaku proved to be a great outlet of passes and also belted Miranda black and blue with his hold-up play and intelligent runs.