Now that we have our 4 semi finalists, 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 4 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, Mbappe, Mandzukic all upfront).
For this one, we went with a 4-3-3 formation.
Goalkeeper: Subasic (CRO) – The Croat goalkeeper has been decisive in two penalty shootouts now and has also contributed humongously in all of Croatia’s games. Lloris pulled off a very important save against Uruguay but due to France’s strength in defence and defensive midfield, has not been called upon too much. Courtois and Pickford have done well, especially vs Brazil for Courtois, but Subasic has been more decisive for us.
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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. He was once again solid against Sweden and makes both our quarter final and semi final combined XI.
Center Back: Raphael Varane (FRA) – Varane proved decisive against Uruguay by unlocking the game with a brilliant header on a Griezmann freekick. Overall, he has been majestic in this tournament, building upon his great form with Real Madrid in the Champions League. A must-have!
Center Back: Maguire (ENG) – Broke the deadlock against Sweden with a fine header. Maguire puts in a shift at the back and also challenges on every single offensive set piece. For his ability in the air and clean defending, we have to pick the Leicester center back.
Left Back: Lucas Hernandez (FRA) – 6 months ago, the Madrid-based youngster was not even in the frame for the national team. Now, he has played all of France’s World Cup games and impressed in every single one of them. His marauding on the left flank helped his team a lot against Argentina. Physical, never backing down from a challenge, Lucas has won our hearts.
Defensive 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.
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Center Mid: Luka 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. He was all over the place in the win against Russia too. Modric is simply put, Mr. Croatia!
Center Mid: De Bruyne (BEL) – Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best central midfielders in the World right now. His precise shot against Brazil put his team 2-0 up and he was busy as a bee on the day, creativity bursting from him. France will have lots of work to do to contain him.
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. If Carasco plays on the left flank, Belgium might suffer.
Left Wing: 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 his spot. Against Brazil, he showed the true meaning of a number 10. We decided to go with a 4-3-3 so he’s on the left wing, otherwise he would have our CAM.
Center Forward: Romelu Lukaku (BEL) – Made a great run, dribbling through a few Brazilians to set up De Bruyne’s goal against Brazil. Powerful, fast and above all a team player, Lukaku wins the CF spot in the team. He’s been more important for his team than Mandzukic, Kane or Giroud have been for their’s.
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