After a gripping month of football, the 2018 World Cup wrapped up on Sunday. France are world champions, Croatia can hold their heads high after a terrific run and the tournament is widely considered to be one of the best ever, if not the best.
The drama was unrelenting, from Russia’s 5-0 victory to kick off the World Cup and the rollercoaster 3-3 draw between Spain and Portugal to Germany’s early fall and some unlikely teams reaching the last eight. Along the way, we saw a string of incredible goals, with defenders getting on the scoresheet at an impressive rate.
Some stars enhanced their reputation in Russia while others were eliminated early or simply never got going. Considering all that, here’s a best attempt at selecting a Team of the Tournament for the 2018 World Cup.
GK Danijel Subasic (Croatia)
Exceptional in guiding Croatia to two penalty shootout wins, along with several other vital saves. Narrowly pips Thibault Courtois, whose heroics helped Belgium hold off Brazil.
CB Raphael Varane (France)
Put in consistently composed performances as well as a key header against Uruguay. Faced Luis Suarez and Romelu Lukaku in the knockout rounds and shut them down. So tough to beat one on one.
CB John Stones (England)
Another defender who got on the scoresheet. Made crucial blocks, won countless headers and began attacks. Will lead England’s defence for years to come.
CB Yerry Mina (Colombia)
Kept clean sheets against Poland and Senegal and dominated in the air. Did his most important work at the other end though, scoring three goals.
RM Kieran Trippier (England)
Delivered the best set pieces in the tournament as England prospered from free-kicks and corners. Tireless defensive work combined with excellent crossing.
CM N’Golo Kante (France)
Did his usual tidy work in midfield, freeing the French attackers to focus on the final third. Provided excellent protection, especially when full backs pushed forward.
CM Luka Modric (Croatia)
The Golden Ball winner and leading light for Croatia. Scored a cracker against Argentina and delivered in two penalty shootouts. Remains the world’s best midfield playmaker.
CM Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
One of several stars who got better as the tournament progressed. Not at his very best in the group stage but was dazzling against Brazil. His passing on the counter attack set him apart.
LM Denis Cheryshev (Russia)
Plenty predicted that Russia would struggle but they almost made the last four. Cheryshev was a big part of this unexpected run with his eye for goal, including a screamer against Croatia.
F Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Scored three and always looked a threat with the ball at his feet. Was a key man in Belgium’s win over Brazil and seemed to thrive wearing the captain’s armband.
F Kylian Mbappe (France)
This tournament will be remembered for Mbappe as much as anyone. First teenager to score in a World Cup Final and just unstoppable on the counter attack. Four goals in total but could have had more. Terrified defenders with his pace and will keep getting better. Only turns 20 in December.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Harry Kane (England), Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), Ivan Perisic (Croatia), Paul Pogba (France), Diego Godin (Uruguay)