World Cup XI: French trio, magnificent Maguire and more
The World Cup Final offered a fittingly exciting climax to a terrific tournament, as France ended their 20-year wait for glory with a 4-2 defeat of Croatia.
With the dust settled on the summer’s football festival, we take a look back at the action in Russia and give our top XI of the tournament…
GK: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
The Chelsea stopper was imperious between the posts – especially in the Red Devils’ triumph over Brazil. His fingertip stop from a Neymar curler was the pick of the bunch.
LB: Lucas Hernandez (France)
Reliable in defence and lively coming forward, the 22-year-old was among the winners’ most important performers. Especially so in light of key assists against Argentina and Croatia.
CB: Harry Maguire (England)
From League One to a World Cup semi-final in less than five years, it’s been quite the rise. Strong in the air, confident on the ball and a threat on set pieces, he’s been the toast of England fans.
CB: Yerry Mina (Colombia)
Few knew of the 23-year-old before Barcelona snapped him up in January. But Mina showed his power and speed on the big stage. His three-goal haul wasn’t too shabby either!
RB: Benjamin Pavard (France)
After an unconvincing display against Australia in their tournament opener, the VfB Stuttgart ace found his groove. A series of dynamic displays followed, including a standout performance against Argentina in a 4-3 round of 16 triumph.
MID: N’Golo Kante (France)
Les Bleus’ midfield powerhouse wasn’t at his best in the final – but they wouldn’t have got there without him. A tough-tackling, tidy, relentless ball of energy, he dragged them through tight games against the likes of Peru, Uruguay and Belgium.
MID: Luka Modric (Croatia)
The Croatian captain was central to everything good his side did in Russia, and duly picked up the Golden Ball. With nigh-on perfect distribution and an eye for goal, his goal against Argentina was one of the tournament’s most iconic moments.
MID: Denis Cheryshev (Russia)
The hosts surprised many by making it to the last eight. And they have the Villarreal ace to thank. He chalked up four goals en route to the quarter-finals, and looked dangerous throughout.
FW: Eden Hazard (Belgium)
The third and final Chelsea player to make the list, Hazard was at the top of his game this summer. He tormented one backline after another, grabbing a brace against Tunisia and masterminding a win over England for the third-place spot.
FW: Harry Kane (England)
The Tottenham Hotspur ace bagged the Golden Boot, becoming the first England player to do so since Gary Lineker in 1986.
From a dramatic winner against Tunisia to those ice-cool penalties against Colombia, he was England’s man for the big moment.
FW: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Fernando Santos’ men may have exited in the round of 16, but Ronaldo still made quite an impact in Russia.
His memorable hat-trick against Spain – complete with perfect free-kick – and winner against Morocco helped an otherwise ordinary side make the knockouts.
Agree with our picks, or reckon we’ve missed out a top talent?
Let us know in the comments below!
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