Modric, Mbappe and Hazard head up our World Cup XI
Richard Marsh | 16 July 2018
A thrilling tournament has come to an end
Well there we are. After four weeks, 64 matches between 32 nations from five confederations across 12 different venues, the World Cup in Russia is over.
And with the 2022 World Cup set to be hosted in Qatar in the winter, there’s an even longer wait until the next global football frenzy.
Qatar has big shoes to fill too, after a thrilling and fascinating summer in Russia. Few expected the tournament to be quite so exhilarating.
But who stood out in Russia? And who makes the Coral News Team’s World Cup XI? Read on to find out…
GK – Thibaut Courtois
This was only ever a two-way fight between Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois and France’s Hugo Lloris.
And the decision was made clear when Lloris inexplicably allowed Mario Mandzukic to score in Sunday’s Final. The Tottenham Hotspur is always ripe for a howler, no matter what the occasion.
LB – Lucas Hernandez
The French defence was the one to have in Russia. That’s not to say they were perfect, but it was strong when it needed to be and effective in attack too.
Lucas Hernandez embodied all of that. The Atletico Madrid ace was a constant presence down the left-flank, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting he’s still only 22-years-old.
DF – Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane was arguably the defender of the tournament. The Frenchman was faultless at the back, keeping Les Blues resolute when under any pressure.
The Real Madrid star also bagged the vital opener in the quarter-finals against Uruguay, and is set to be France’s defensive lynchpin for years to come.
DF – Domagoj Vida
Croatia’s Dejan Lovren may have bagged more headlines, but it was Domagoj Vida who really shone at the heart of their defence this summer.
The Besiktas man dealt with everything that came his way in a fashion which embodied the Croatian’s fight and spirit.
RB – Benjamin Pavard
France’s Benjamin Pavard edges out England’s Kieran Trippier for the right-back spot.
The Stuttgart man was something of an unknown quantity on British shoes before the tournament, but he’ll be a recognised name now after a stunning show in Russia.
Pavard was defensively strong and was always a threat going forward, culminating in a wondrous strike in France’s 4-3 second round win over Argentina.
MF – N’Golo Kante
Of course N’Golo Kante is in the team. The Chelsea man didn’t have a particularly brilliant final, but his tireless work ethic and positional play had a huge hand in helping France get to the showpiece.
Widely agreed to be the best defensive midfielder in the game, Kante’s unique ball-winning qualities allowed countryman Paul Pogba to flourish in Russia.
MF – Luka Modric
The shining star of Croatia’s run to the final, Luka Modric produced all of his sublime qualities on the biggest stage this summer.
With unrivalled vision and passing ability, the Real Madrid man was Croatia’s beating heart. He also scored a peach against Argentina and deservedly won FIFA’s Golden Ball award.
MF – Denis Cheryshev
The host nation proved to be one of the tournament’s surprise packages, and Denis Cheryshev was a major reason why.
He started on the bench for Russia’s opening game against Saudi Arabia, but scored a wonderful brace and from then on was a focal point of the hosts’ efforts.
A threat whenever he was on the ball, Cheryshev then scored against Egypt before reaching new heights with a stunning 25-yard hit against Croatia.
FW – Ivan Perisic
Ivan Perisic loves the big stage. The Croatian scored twice in Brazil four years ago, and twice more at Euro 2016.
So it was only fitting he hit new heights with three goals in Russia. The Inter Milan winger was a thorn for defenders throughout the tournament.
He scored a brilliant instinctive goal to turn the tide against England, before giving Croatia hope in the final with a superbly taken strike against the French.
FW – Kylian Mbappe
Some still think that France’s Kylian Mbappe is a star of the future. It’s pretty clear, however, that he is of world class quality already.
The 19-year-old is already a two-time Ligue 1 champion, and on Sunday become only the second teenager to score in a World Cup Final, after a certain chap called Pele in 1958.
That strike took his tally to four in Russia. His blistering race caused all sorts of problems for opponents – especially during his two-goal brace versus Argentina, and to think how good he can become is mind-boggling.
FW – Eden Hazard
Belgium’s golden generation again came up short, but they gave it a terrific go.
And a lot of their good work was down to their talisman Eden Hazard. The Chelsea man won more one-on-ones than any other player in Russia, and seemed to revel as the tournament progressed.
Looks poised for a move to Real Madrid, and if he takes his World Cup form to La Liga, then they’re in for a treat.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing