Best 23-man 2018 World Cup squad with one player per country

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching. Coaches must begin to seriously evaluate the 23 players they will take to Russia for the world’s greatest sporting event.

Squad selections are imminent. Let’s get experimental and select a 23-man squad from players who will feature at the tournament.

First of all, there’s one small caveat. Only one player per team made the squad. This ensures the squad isn’t a mixture of only three countries. Nine nations did not have a player selected, due to there only being 23 players and 32 teams.

Those countries with no player representation are: Saudi Arabia, Japan, Iran, Peru, Australia, Tunisia, Panama, Korea Republic and Australia. The squad breaks down by position with 3 goalkeepers, 7 defenders, 10 midfielders and 3 forwards.

The Final 23-Man World Cup Squad

Goalkeepers (3):

  1. Keylor Navas, CR: The unquestioned number one goalkeeper. Notably, since the last World Cup, Navas has been Real Madrid’s primary shot stopper. He has two Champions League titles to show for it. The Costa Rican was hard to beat in the Ticos’ surprise run to the quarterfinals in 2014.
  2. David Ospina, COL: A serviceable deputy for Arsenal and with World Cup experience to boot. Ospina is a strong choice as back up to the number one.
  3. Igor Akinfeev, RUS: The host nation had to feature in this team. Akinfeev is a veteran shot stopper with World Cup experience. He is first choice for his country and rounds out the goalkeeper hierarchy here.

Defenders (7):

  1. Sergio Ramos, ESP: A World Cup and two-time European Champion, Ramos is one of world football’s finest central defenders. It was difficult to pick him over David de Gea and Andres Iniesta. The defense needed Ramos’ experience, his defensive abilities and an areal threat from set pieces.
  2. Diego Godin, URU: Godin joins Ramos in this all La Liga center back pairing. It was difficult to pick him over Cavani and Suarez, but the defense was in need of his steadiness. He was also chosen for his leadership and overall ability.
  3. Ricardo Rodriguez, SWI: The AC Milan left back is terrific going forward. He is one of the best left backs at the tournament. It helped that no other Swiss player had any real shot at making the squad.
  4. Kyle Walker, ENG: The defender has been a revelation for Manchester City this season. Walker has thrust himself near the top of the right back hierarchy in world football. While Kane and Sterling would have been shrewd additions, Walker’s two way ability and sheer pace made him essential.
  5. Victor Moses, NGR: A utility player who can play at right back, right wing back and right midfield. Moses is a useful squad player.
  6. Medi Benatia, MOR: A Strong central defender with experience at both Bayern Munich and Juventus. He is selected to provide cover for both Ramos and Godin.
  7. Diego Reyes, MEX: Provides depth at the central defender position. Additionally, Reyes has terrific potential for El Tri.

Midfielders (10):

  1. Lionel Messi, ARG: Obviously. Messi is the world’s best player and fit right into our team. His ability to drop deep made him quite useful in opening up a spot for one of our forwards.
  2. Neymar, BRA: See above. Neymar’s creativity and sheer talent made him an essential selection for the squad.
  3. Paul Pogba, FRA: Pogba’s terrific two way ability squeezed him into the squad over N’Golo Kante and Antoine Greizman.
  4. Christian Eriksen, DEN: The Danish playmaker has enjoyed a fantastic season at Tottenham; his passing ability and long range shooting expertise made him an essential pick for the squad.
  5. Gylfi Siggurdson, ISL: Which other Icelandic player could conceivably make the squad? Siggurdson is a good creative attacking player who thrived with no real weapons at Swansea. Imagine what he could do with a bevy of world class attackers at his disposal!
  6. Nemanja Matic, SRB: Provides steel and defensive cover in the midfield. An especially relevant skill is his ability to unleash a long range belter as we saw against Tottenham last year in the FA Cup.
  7. Luka Modric, CRO: Real Madrid’s #10 is most effective from deep lying positions. He can operate right in the middle of the attack.
  8. Toni Kroos, GER: See above. Kroos can pass from deep lying positions. This ability squeezed him into the squad over a bevy of his supremely talented countryman. His once Bayern Munich teammate Thomas Mueller, has quietly scored ten goals in two World Cups, just misses out.
  9. Kevin De Bruyne, BEL: The presumptive Premier League POY (not ruling out Mo Salah quite yet) has become a world class player. It was an easy selection for the team. His ability to play as a deep lying playmaker or a no. 10, make him both valuable and versatile.
  10. Sadio Mane, SEN: Capable of playing on either wing, Mane will inject pace and excitement into the side. Additionally, the only Senegal player that warranted selection.

Forwards (3):

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo, POR: See Messi. No questions asked.
  2. Robert Lewandowski, POL: Arguably the world’s best pure #9. Lewa is a dark horse to win the Golden Boot this summer. This may depend on how far his team are able to take him.
  3. Mohamed Salah, EGY: 28 goals for Liverpool made him an easy selection. What a transcendent talent!

Projected Starting XI:

So what are your thoughts? Did I get it right? Who would you have picked or who did I leave out? What starting XI would you assemble? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Brian April 3, 2018
  2. Asish Chanclani April 3, 2018
  3. Eric April 3, 2018
  4. Gabriel April 7, 2018

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