World XI – Jakob Gisik
Hugo Lloris (France)
Lloris edges out Golden Glove winner Thibaut Courtois as the starting goalkeeper. The French captain wasn’t required as often as his Belgian counterpart but was superb when called upon. He kept a tournament high four clean sheets and made a series of diving saves, most notably against Uruguay and Belgium, to guide his side to World Cup glory.
Raphael Varane (France)
It’s been some year for the Real Madrid defender, who became just the 11th player to win the Champions League Final and World Cup Final in the same season. Varane was the key man in France’s back four and also posed a serious threat from attacking set pieces, heading home an Antoine Griezmann free kick against Uruguay in the quarterfinal.
Domagoj Vida (Croatia)
No defender at the World Cup played with as much heart and passion as Vida. He not only demonstrated his ability to play as a conventional centre-back but also as a sweeper, regularly cutting off opposition counter-attacks. He was also not afraid to push forward, scoring a vital header against Russia in the quarter-final.
Benjamin Pavard (France)
Pavard will leave Russia as one of the World Cup’s breakout stars, having been a surprise inclusion in Didier Deschamps starting XI. The 22-year old was assured for France down the right flank, while his right-footed strike against Argentina in the round-of-16 was one of the goals of the tournament.
Yerry Mina (Colombia)
No one would have tipped Yerry Mina to be Colombia’s leading goal scorer at the 2018 World Cup, but he was. The 6-foot-3 defender was a menace in the air, with all three goals coming via his head, while his defensive play was equally impressive. With James Rodriguez injured and Radamel Falcao down on form, Mina was easily Colombia’s best player in Russia.
Luka Modric (Croatia) (C)
The Croatian captain was the World Cup’s most outstanding player and deserving of the Golden Ball Award. He pulled the strings for Croatia, often creating huge space for himself in the midfield and then putting the ball wherever he wanted. Although Modric and his countrymen came up short against France, the midfield maestro was superb, totally outplaying N’Golo Kante who was in the running for the Golden Ball himself.
N’Golo Kante (France)
Kante stands at just 5-foot-5, but the diminutive figure proved in Russia that he is the best defensive midfielder in the world. His work rate is incredible and his ability to cut off passing lines and intercept the ball is second-to-none. He was beaten by Modric in the final, but claimed some huge scalps throughout the tournament, including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Kevin De Bruyne.
Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Often criticised for disappearing at big tournaments, Hazard finally delivered on the world stage. He appeared to relish the responsibility of being Belgium’s captain and led his nation to its best-ever finish at a World Cup. He ended the tournament with three goals, two assists and completed a staggering 40 successful dribbles, more than any other player in the competition.
Kylian Mbappe (France)
It’s hard to believe this kid is only 19. Mbappe was easily the best young player at the tournament and probably not far off being the best overall player at the tournament. He ignited France’s World Cup hopes with a double against Argentina in the round-of-16, before becoming the first teenager to score in a World Cup Final since Pele in 1958.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Lukaku was an absolute force for Belgium in the group stage, scoring four goals in two matches before being rested against England. He failed to find the back of the net in the knockout stages, but his creativity and awareness opened the game up for his teammates. His cheeky dummy against Japan, which led to the Nacer Chadli match winner, was one of the smartest plays at the World Cup.
Harry Kane (England)
It’s hard to leave the Golden Boot winner out of the World Cup’s best XI. Similar to Lukaku, Kane wasn’t as dominant in the knockout stages as he was earlier in the tournament. However his six goals, combined with his strong leadership, carried the Poms to their first semi-final appearance at a World Cup since 1990.
Denis Cheryshev (Russia)
Cheryshev came off the bench on opening night and brought the World Cup to life with two cracking goals. He finished with four and was the catalyst behind the host’s impressive tournament.
Antoine Griezmann (France)
Four goals, two assists and a ‘Man-of-the-Match’ performance in the final equals a pretty good World Cup for Griezmann. The Athletico Madrid striker was perfect from the penalty spot, while his set piece delivery throughout the tournament left defenders in disarray.
“I’ll be the first to buy the jersey with the two stars.”@FIFAWorldCupFRA caught up with #WorldCupFinal @Budweiser #ManoftheMatch @AntoGriezmann
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) July 15, 2018
Ivan Perisic (Croatia)
After a quiet group stage, Perisic was electric in the knockout stages. He was best-on-ground in the semi-final against England, while his goal in the final, against the tournament’s best defence, was simply superb.
Didier Deschamps (France)
Deschamps became just the third person to win the World Cup as both a player and a manager. Some would argue, given France’s star-studded line-up, that Deschamps has an easy job, but managing a group of high-profile individuals, and having them play as a team, is no easy task.