World XI – Josh Knox
Goalkeeper – Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)
Ochoa only featured in the four matches but made a whopping 25 saves in the process and kept an all-important clean sheet against the Germans. With a deeper run in the tournament, it would have been no surprise to see Ochoa pick up the Golden Glove.
Left Back – Kieran Trippier (England)
The tactic by Gareth Southgate to move Kyle Walker from left back to centre back to fit in Kieran Trippier proved to be one of his best decisions of the tournament. ‘Bury Beckham’ was dynamic from set pieces and worked tirelessly right up until he left the field injured deep in the match against Croatia.
Centre Back – Raphael Varane (France)
Winning his 16th trophy by the time he’s 25 just shows the class of Raphael Varane and it was on display again over the seven fixtures. Varane found himself on the scoresheet against Uruguay and was as solid as they come in the back line as he won a number of aerial duels.
Raphaël Varane has now won 16 trophies in his senior career for club & country:
Centre Back – John Stones (England)
One costly error in the semi-final almost ruled out John Stones from my World XI, but the Manchester City centre back was a dominant figure in the English backline. Was a menace on corners in attack and was overall a strong presence in the back three with both of the other two members just missing out.
Right Back – Benjamin Pavard (France)
I, along with a number of other people, hadn’t heard of Benjamin Pavard prior to the tournament but he made the most of his selection ahead of injured right back Benjamin Mendy. The man who plays his club football in Germany with Stuttgart scored arguably the goal of the tournament and threatened in attack constantly down the right flank, linking well with Kylian Mbappe.
Central Midfield – Paul Pogba (France)
It was a close one between the two French stalwarts but Paul Pogba edged ahead of N’Golo Kante following his dominant display in the final. Scored a cracker of a goal and played well linking the attack for the champions.
Central Midfield – Luka Modric (Croatia)
Named the tournament’s best player after the final, Croatia skipper Luka Modric provided solid experience in the midfield and got his side out of trouble in the knockout phase. His missed penalty in the round of 16 went unpunished but most definitely could have spelt the end to Croatia’s campaign.
⚽ #CRO captain @lukamodric10 is the best player of the 2018 @FIFAWorldCup in Russia!
👏 Congratulations to the #WorldCup Golden Ball winner! #BeProud #Croatia #WorldCupFinal #Vatreni🔥 pic.twitter.com/IR5T2xljrd
— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) July 15, 2018
Central Attacking Midfield – Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
He was the key that led Manchester City to the English Premier League title, and he was a strong force for Belgium linking well with Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard in the tournament’s highest scoring team. Can score goals and set them up and he did both throughout and was even utilised as a false 9 at stages during the tournament.
Left Wing – Eden Hazard (Belgium)
If Belgium made it through to the final, there was a good chance Eden Hazard would have won the Golden Ball. The Chelsea playmaker was electrifying for his nation and the captain looked dangerous on every occasion he touched the ball. Expect him in Cristiano Ronaldo’s position at Real Madrid come the 2018/19 season after his heroics.
Right Wing – Kylian Mbappe (France)
The 19-year-old from Paris Saint Germain was a standout for France. With speed to burn and one of the best attacking instincts going around, Mbappe is set to become one of the best players in the world once Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi retire.
Striker – Harry Kane (England) (C)
Captain Kane was influential for the Three Lions in the majority of their games but went missing against Belgium in the group stage and had a costly miss against Croatia in the semi-final clash. The Golden Boot winner led around a young England side and steered them to a deep run with six goals from seven games.
Bench – Jordan Pickford (England), Yerry Mina (Colombia), Ivan Perisic (Croatia)