Now that we have our 8 quarter finalist, we decided to take a look at what a combined starting 11 would look like.
We base this on the performance of the players, the players’ pedigree and how crucial they were to their team making it so far. We also had a rule which forced at least one player from the 8 teams to be in the combined XI (just for inclusion!) and we did make sure the team is balanced (no 4 attackers with Kane, Lukaku, Cavani, Jesus all upfront).
Goalkeeper: Akinfeev (RUS) – After his heroics against Spain, Akinfeev just has to make it in the combined XI. The Russians defeated Spain thanks to their courageous defending and Akinfeev deserves credit for marshalling that defence. It does not hurt that he won the penalty shootout for his country.
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Right Back: Kieran Trippier (ENG) – The England team looked timid versus Colombia and seem to have trouble creating chances from open play. The defence however seems to be doing just fine. Spurs’ Trippier, playing at right-back in Southgate’s 3-5-2 has been impressive. His ability from set pieces also did not go unnoticed.
Center Back: Andreas Granqvist (SWE) – Sweden have eliminated the Netherlands and Italy before the World Cup. In Russia, they sent Germany and Switzerland home. All this was done on the back of a solid defence comprising of giants. Andreas Granqvist is the mainstay of this defence and has also come through with 2 goals from the penalty spot. The dad-to-be has our vote! And we hope he does not miss the birth of his second child.
Center Back: Diego Godin (URU) – Diego Godin’s performance at this World Cup has shown he is one of the best defenders in the World and arguably the best in Russia right now. Varane is a close second. Godin’s team has so far conceded only one goal and he has not put one foot wrong, especially compared to the mistakes made by Ramos, Pique, Umtiti, Boateng and co.
Left Back: Marcelo (BRA) – He is undoubtedly the best left back in the World right now. Tite mentioned he should be fit to face Belgium and that should worry Martinez.
Center Mid: Kante (FRA) – The omnipresent Kante, France’s midfield engine, the opposition’s worst nightmare. Without Kante, France would find it tough to attack. He provides a certain protection, assurance to his teammates. Pogba-Kante-Matuidi is the best midfield trio at this World Cup but we can only pick one.
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Center Mid: Modric (CRO) – Captain Luka has been the best passer at this World Cup. The Croatian performances have heavily depended on how much of the ball Modric sees. Against Denmark, he missed a penalty in the game and then bravely stepped up to take another in the shootout and score. Modric is Mr. Croatia!
Left Wing: Neymar (BRA) – We have been noticing Neymar’s antics a lot. The amount of time he spends rolling on the ground is ridiculous. However, the Brazilian has been delivering the goods for Brazil. He has 2 goals and 2 assists. Coutinho and Willian have been brilliant too but we just could not leave Neymar out.
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Right Wing: Mbappe (FRA) – The scourge of Argentina. Mbappe stole the limelight from Messi in the Round of 16 game by winning 1 penalty and scoring 2 goals. The Argentines could not cope with his pace. He was also one of the standout performers even when France were lulling everybody to sleep in the group stage.
Central Attacking Mid: Hazard (BEL) – Belgium has so much talent in their team that it’s hard to pick one player over another. Hazard has been pulling all the strings for his team and deserves the CAM spot.
Center Forward: Edinson Cavani (URU) – Cavani dazzled against Portugal with 2 fantastic goals. He has shown good leadership on the pitch and makes every opportunity count. We hope he can play against France but that is a long shot. Harry Kane would have taken this spot as current golden boot leader but Cavani’s goals and overall performance was more impressive. It’s not always about the number of goals you score.
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