The 2018 FIFA World Cup has finally come to a conclusion after a month of total football action in Russia.
As France return to Paris with the golden trophy, the French players are not the only ones who punched above their weight during the tournament.
Whiles there were official winners of the Golden Ball, Golden Boot, Golden Gloves and Best Young Player awards, there are also a couple of players who deserve notable mention in the team of the tournament.
Below is Yen.com.gh’s team of the 2018 FIFA World Cup:
Thibaut Courtois – The Belgium goalkeeper was as instrumental as any other player in the Belgium line-up as they reached the semi-final of the World Cup. Many have previously criticized Courtois for his below-par performances, but the Chelsea goalie was back to form at the right time to help Belgium to third-place. Particularly in the quarter-final game against Brazil, Courtois pulled as many world-class saves to ensure that the Samba boys could not prevail. It is no surprise that he won the Golden Glove award.
RB: Benjamin Pavard – The France right-back was one of the breakout stars during the World Cup, helping Les Bleus annex the trophy in the final. Pavard is fondly remembered for his wonderful volley in the round of 16 game against Argentina, but his overall contribution in the tournament also deserves praise.
LB: Kieran Trippier – Naturally a right-back but Tripper deserves to be in the team of the tournament for his show of bravery and zeal. The England defender was lively in almost every game and perhaps it was unfortunate that his free-kick goal in the semi-final against Croatia could not send the Three Lions into the final.
CB: Domagoj Vida – Croatia won the hearts of many at the just-ended World Cup due to their never-say-die attitude on the pitch. And, although majority of the praise went to the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, Vida is one of the names that cannot be omitted. The centre-back played every game, marshalling the defense with important tackles and interceptions.
CB: Samuel Umtiti – The attackers of France have earned their fair share of praise during the World Cup, but their defense was equally impressive. It is unfair that only one of either Raphael Varane and Umtiti can make the team of the year, but both were very good. Umtiti especially was immense in defense, with his semi-final goal against Belgium taking France to the final.
DM: Ngolo Kante – France midfielder, Ngolo Kante, was once again very key in midfield. Modest and usually shying away from the spotlight, Kante is a beast in midfield. The Chelsea anchorman formed a formidable partnership with Paul Pogba at the base of the France midfield, which dominated almost every side they faced.
CM: Ivan Rakitic – Just like Kante, Ivan Rakitic is not a player who loves the spotlight, however, he equally gets the job done when necessary. The Barcelona midfielder was one of the most important players for Croatia en route to the World Cup final. Rakitic was the controller-in-chief in the middle of the park and chipped in with decisive penalty kicks during Croatia’s shootouts sessions in the knockout stages.
LW: Eden Hazard – Belgium winger, Eden Hazard, finally transformed his club form to the national side – and nowhere else but on the World Cup stage. The Chelsea attacker was in blistering form throughout the tournament, tormenting opposition defenders in every game. It was no surprise that he eventually won the silver ball, perhaps he even deserved more.
RW: Ivan Perisic – Croatia earned plaudits for their fighting spirit, but if there was one player who personified that character, then it was Perisic. Despite playing in three successive 120-minute games en route to the final, the Inter Milan winger showed no signs of fatigue and continued to play his normal full-energy game. He ended up scoring a wonderful goal which brought Croatia level briefly, but it was ultimately not enough to win his nation the trophy.
CAM: Luka Modric – Although France won the World Cup, there was only one name on everybody’s lips for the Golden Ball award: Luka Modrid. The 32-year-old played with heart and was full of energy as if he was 10 years younger. Modric was the main man in Croatia’s midfield, with a passing technique that is unmatched by any other player.
Kylian Mbappe – The newest kid on the block, Kylian Mbappe, took time to get his groove on, but once he did he was absolutely unstoppable in the World Cup. Mbappe’s speed was a torn in the flesh of many full-backs, as showed in games against Argentina, Uruguay and even in the final against Croatia. The 19-year-old became just the second teenager to score in a World Cup final after the great Pele and you can only imagine what the future holds. It was deserved that he won the Best Young Player award.
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