Pickford, Mbappe, Modric: Team of the World Cup

The month-long football fiesta that is the FIFA World Cup has drawn to a close with France crowned as champions.

Fans across the globe were treated to blockbuster entertainment as Russia 2018 served up 169 goals – an average of 2.6 per match – and shocks that left viewers on the edge of their seat.

From Joachim Low’s lowly Germans, to England’s surprising run to the semi-finals, this tournament arguably had it all.

But storylines aside, let’s look at the main people who made this World Cup what it is, the players.

With many showing their very best, who has made Alasdair Hooper’s best XI of the tournament?

Formation: 4-3-3

Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford (England)

From Alfreton Town to his country’s first choice goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford’s rise has been quite something.

When Everton made the 24-year-old the third most expensive goalkeeper ever, after purchasing him from Sunderland last summer, everyone in England knew Pickford had talent.

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Now the whole world knows it as the England stopper demonstrated his full range of skills out in Russia.

From his stunning save against Colombia, to his excellent distribution with his feet, Pickford has seized his opportunity as first choice in excellent fashion.

Right-back: Kieran Trippier (England)

The Tottenham full-back’s displays for England have been absolutely excellent at this World Cup.

With Gareth Southgate’s 3-5-2 formation, Trippier’s width was absolutely key to making the system work and he followed it up with barnstorming runs and pinpoint crosses.

He also announced himself to the British public as a dead ball specialist as he was more often than not the elected free kick taker – as shown with his goal against Croatia in the semi-final.

As time goes on, and England continue to warm to their new system, the 27-year-old’s influence could continue to grow.

Centre-back: Raphael Varane (France)

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For all of France’s attacking talent, their youthful defence have arguably played a more important role in their run to World Cup glory.

The star man of that back line is Real Madrid’s Varane who, at 25-years-old, now has four Champions League victories, two LaLiga triumphs, two Copa Del Rey’s and a World Cup to his name.

On numerous occasions, Varane has led by example in defence, in tandem with Samuel Umtiti, and continues to reinforce the fact that he is one of the best defenders in the game.

Centre-back: Diego Godin (Uruguay)

Atletico Madrid’s Uruguayan rock continues to dominate in his position at the age of 32.

Godin has cemented himself as arguably the best central defender around right now and his no-nonsense play was on show at the World Cup.

In Uruguay’s game against Portugal he, and clubmate Jose Maria Gimenez, displayed all their ability and Godin demonstrated exemplary leadership in his role as captain.

Left-back: Marcelo (Brazil)

While Brazil’s tournament may have ended in disappointing fashion, left-back and captain Marcelo was in fine form.

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The Real Madrid man’s runs down the left flank provided valuable width for his team and his defensive play was up to his usual high standards.

Marcelo has long been one of the best left-backs in the game over the last few years and his levels did not drop over in Russia.

Defensive midfield: N’Golo Kante (France)

Everyone’s favourite defensive midfielder continued to play as well for his nation as he does for his club.

With a smile on his face, and a seemingly never-ending burst of energy, Kante has been crucial to the way France have played at this tournament.

While his appearance in the final was relatively brief, it can’t be argued just how important Kante is in his midfield role.

Centre-midfield: Paul Pogba (France)

Pogba has been heavily criticised for his club performances, but for France he showed what he is capable of.

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Working in tandem with Kante, Pogba showed the discipline and awareness that he often doesn’t exhibit in a Manchester United shirt.

His passing has been supreme, particularly his pinpoint through ball for Mbappe in the lead up to him scoring France’s third goal in the final.

Centre-midfield: Luka Modric (Croatia)

Being awarded the player of the tournament after the final will be of little conciliation to the midfield maestro but it typifies the type of influence he has had.

The diminutive midfielder is the man who keeps things ticking over for Croatia and he has the ability to take control of games singlehandedly.

He rose to the challenge of captaining his country and his efforts in helping Croatia reach their first ever World Cup final will go down in history.

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Right-wing: Kylian Mbappe (France)

At just 19 years of age, Mbappe has announced himself as the next great star of world football.

In years gone by, this tournament will be remembered as his breakout moment on the international stage. With his lightning play and raw talent, Mbappe proved to be pivotal as France went on to glory.

With so many years ahead of him, it is terrifying to think how good Mbappe can become.

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Striker: Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)

Perhaps a rogue choice in this line-up, but Cavani’s play alongside fellow strike partner Luis Suarez was crucial to Uruguay’s progression to the quarter-finals.

His performance against Portugal was one of the best centre-forward displays you will see, while his absence through injury against France cost his team a key weapon in their armoury.

The fact that he was so badly missed underlines just what the Paris Saint-Germain forward brings to the table.

Left-wing: Ivan Perisic (Croatia)

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Croatia’s winger exemplified the never say die attitude and showed exactly why he was so in demand last summer.

The Inter Milan man combines a workhorse attitude with superb talent.

As England and France found out, he also has a handy knack of getting in the right place to score crucial goals.

Worthy mentions: Hugo Lloris, Denis Cheryshev, Antoine Griezmann, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Harry Maguire, Romelu Lukaku.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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