The 2018 World Cup is in the books, which means it’s time to pick our World Cup Team of the Tournament. I’ll provide 2 players at each position (first team and second team), along with a brief explanation of my selections.
Feel free to disagree in the comments below!
1st Team: Jordan Pickford, England
2nd Team: Thibaut Courtois, Belgium
A difficult selection– Courtois won the Golden Glove Award, but for me, Pickford was better. He made the key save vs. Colombia, and he made several key saves against Sweden and Croatia. Courtois was terrific for Belgium, but when it comes to stand out moments, I give Pickford the edge.
Honorable mentions to France’s Hugo Lloris, who would have made my second team if not for his dreadful error in the Final, along with Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel, Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa, and South Korea’s Cho-Hyun Woo.
1st Team: Kieran Trippier, England
2nd Team: Mario Fernandes, Russia
Trippier was England’s best creative player all tournament long, and he capped it off with a stunning free kick against Croatia. He was a big miss in the dying embers of the semifinal. Trippier created more chances and had more crosses than any England player, and often was the focal point of their attack.
Fernandes scored a crucial equalizer against Croatia in the quarterfinals, and was terrific all tournament long. His presence was very obviously missed when he was rested vs. Uruguay in the group stage.
Honorable mention to France’s Benjamin Pavard, Croatia’s Sime Vrsalkjo, and Belgium’s Thomas Meunier.
1st Team: Andreas Grandqvist, Sweden; Diego Godin, Uruguay
2nd Team: Raphael Varane, France; Harry Maguire, England
This one was tough. Grandqvist was the best player for a Swedish team that defied the odds by making the quarters, including scoring twice from the spot. He was an absolute rock. So was Godin, who stabilized a Uruguay side that was lackluster in their first two matches. They conceded three goals in 5 matches, and only one in their first four, and Godin was a big reason why.
Varane was immense for France as the tournament progressed, and scored the winning goal in the quarterfinal. Maguire scored England’s winner in the quarters as well, and was fantastic– he should earn a big transfer this summer.
So many honorable mentions: France’s Samuel Umtiti, England’s John Stones, Uruguay’s Jose Giminez, and Colombia’s Yerry Mina.
1st Team: Diego Laxalt, Uruguay
2nd Team: Lucas Hernandez, France
Not too many choices here. Laxalt made Uruguay so much better when he was introduced– their change from three at the back to four at the back gave them a much better bite going forward. Hernandez really grew into the tournament as it progressed, and held his own in the final, holding Ante Rebic largely quiet. He should get more playing time at club level as a result.
Honorable mention to Mexico’s Jesus Gallardo.
1st Team: Paul Pogba, France; N’Golo Kante, France; Luka Modric, Croatia
2nd Team: Kevin de Bruyne, Belgium; Philippe Coutinho, Brazil; Antoine Griezmann, France
Oh goodness, this was tough. Modric won the Golden Ball, and had to be in– he was an inspiration to a Croatia team that exceeded every expectation. Kante was France’s best player over their first six matches, and was my pick for the Golden Ball before a thoroughly disappointing final. Pogba, his teammate, picked up the slack, and his Man of the Match performance in the Final earned him a spot in this team.
De Bruyne was quietly brilliant for Belgium all tournament, and his screamer against Brazil propelled the Red Devils to the last four. Coutinho shone brightest in a Brazil team full of stars, and Griezmann tallied 4 goals and 2 assists for France, which put him level with Harry Kane for most goal contributions at Russia 2018.
Honorable mentions to Ivan Rakitic of Croatia, Lucas Toreira of Uruguay, and both Aleksander Golovin and Roman Zobnin of Russia.
1st Team: Eden Hazard, Belgium
2nd Team: Ivan Perisic, Croatia
Hazard was the Runner Up for the Golden Ball, and deservedly so. He was a menace down the left flank, and famously completed 10/10 take ons against Brazil. Finally, Hazard showed up at a major tournament.
Perisic was especially brilliant in the last two matches– 2 goals and an assist in the semifinal and final combined. He was outstanding.
Honorable mentions to Neymar, Takashi Inui, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Chucky Lozano.
1st Team: Kylian Mbappe, France
2nd Team: Denis Cheryshev, Russia
It was Mbappe’s tournament from kick off against Argentina to the very end– the 19 year old won all the headlines, scoring four goals to win the Young Player of the Tournament award.
Cheryshev scored four times for Russia, including belter’s against Saudi Arabia and Croatia.
Honorable mentions to Croatia’s Ante Rebic and Switzerland’s Xerdan Shaquiri.
1st Team: Romelu Lukaku, Belgium
2nd Team: Harry Kane, England
Lukaku may be a controversial selection, but he shouldn’t be. He scored four times, but was so influential in everything Belgium did. His off the ball runs and driving through the midfield were responsible for the Red Devils winning goals against Japan and Brazil.
Kane won the Golden Boot, but off 3 penalties, 2 redirected corners, and a lucky bounce. His performances were largely underwhelming. However, six goals is a lot, so he sneaks into the second team.
Honorable Mentions to Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic, and Russia’s Artem Dzyuba.
Here you have it, the first and second teams of the 2018 World Cup.
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