With the Ballon D’Or nominees out for 2018, the Overhead Kick decided to pick a first eleven and the Ballon D’Or winner! Palmares, individual performance and leadership were all taken into account.
For this Team of the Year eleven, I went with an unorthodox formation to accomodate all the top players I think should be rewarded: a 3-4-3 formation with a diamond midfield (FIFA players know what I’m talking about).
GK: Thibaut Courtois – The ex-Chelsea and current Real Madrid player has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world for a few seasons and during the summer, he was instrumental in leading Belgium to third place at the World Cup. While I think De Gea is more talented as an individual, his errors in the group stage at the World Cup, while inconsequential, stripped him of a position in the team of the year.
See also: David De Gea is the Messi of goalkeepers
RCB: Sergio Ramos – Captain Ramos lead Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League, the fourth during his tenure at Madrid. At his best, Ramos is in the top three of defenders in the world. With Raphael Varane, he has formed one of the most solid defensive partnerships in the world in recent years.
CB: Raphael Varane – Varane is the only player in the world this year to have won both the Champions League and the World Cup. His contribution was not just peripheral but Varane was essential to both Madrid’s and France’s triumphs. His brilliant calmness at the back and occasional important goal upfront makes him the dream modern center back.
For his role in winning the Champions League and World Cup, Varane gets our vote for the Ballon D’Or! Long have defenders been wrongfully ignored for the award, with flashy forwards picked instead. Nobody has a better claim than Varane this year!
LCB: Marcelo – Quite simply the best left back in the world at the moment. Instrumental in Real Madrid winning the Champions League, Marcelo deserves credit for bossing the left flank where Ronaldo usually plays (so no tracking back).
DM: Ngolo Kante – The engine Ngolo Kante energetic performances lead France to glory at the World Cup, allowing more creative players like Pogba and Griezmann to operate freely while he cleaned up behind them. He has been on top as a defensive midfielder for some time now and is now looking impressive as a box-to-box midfielder in Sarri’s system at Chelsea.
CM: Modric – Captain Luka won the Champions League with Madrid and then led Croatia to the World Cup finals. Quietly impressive in midfield, he is a must-pick!
See also: Croatian Warriors Surpass Class of 98
CM: Kevin De Bruyne – One of the most creative central midfielders in the world, KBD is the complete player. Having started further upfront, he can play on either wing, as an attacking midfielder or lower as a central midfielder, box to box or even deep lying. He was influential in City’s record breaking title challenge and makes the cut for his world cup contributions and versatility as well.
AM: Griezmann – Antoine Griezmann had a relatively quiet World Cup, compared to Euro 2016. That does not mean he has underperformed. His Atletico Madrid style of defending from the front and quality set piece deliveries earn him a place in the team. A very classy player. World Cup and Europa League wins also helped his case.
LW: Ronaldo – I believe this one needs no explanation. With the number of important goals Ronaldo has been contributing for club and country these past few months, there is no other player I would pick for the left forward position.
RW: Mbappe – The scourge of Argentina. At the World Cup, 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. It’s hard to believe he is only 19. Much maturity and intelligence. Post-World Cup he is banging in the goals for fun with PSG. Mbappe will certainly be Ronaldo’s and Messi’s heir.
CF: Mandzukic – Mario Mandzukic is now no longer in Davor Suker’s shadow. His opportunistic goal against England sent his country to the World Cup final. He has been an outstanding number 9 and team player throughout that tournament. His performance with Juve has also been exemplary, so much that it’s Higuain who was shown the door when Juve signed Ronaldo. An easy choice!
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