football

The Best World Cup XI from the EPL

July 30, 2018

- Grant Whittington

Now that the 21st World Cup in Russia has come to an end, all football fans are looking forward to the start of an exciting new Premier League season.

We’re in the midst of a frenetic and limited transfer window in the Premier League, as speculation mounts surrounding a number of players, particularly those who shone during the summer.

If you had to choose your best World Cup XI from the EPL, which players would you pick? Here is our selection….

Jordan Pickford, Everton and England

Prior to the World Cup, Jordan Pickford wasn’t even established as England’s first choice number one, making his sensational goalkeeping performances in Russia even more impressive. Not only did he grow in stature and provide exceptional distribution throughout the football tournament, he also delivered crucial saves against Sweden and Croatia and perfectly demonstrated his first-rate shot stopping skills.

Kieran Trippier, Spurs and England

After heading to Russia as England’s second choice for right back and arriving home with David Beckham comparisons ringing in his ears, it’s evident Trippier has had a great tournament. He shone in the right wing-back role, creating twelve chances in his first tour games, delivering one assist and scoring a stunning free kick in the semi-final against Croatia. His set-piece delivery was second to none and he definitely deserves all the commendation he’s getting.

Jan Vertonghen, Spurs and Belgium

While the powerful Spurs defender played as a left-sided centre-back for much of the tournament, he performed superbly as left-back during Belgium’s impressive quarter-final win against Brazil. His strength when tackling and command of the ball shone through as the Red Devils earned a third-place finish, while his looping header against Japan triggered a thrilling comeback as Belgium overhauled a 2-0 deficit.

N’Golo Kante, Chelsea and France

N’Golo Kante was tireless during France’s successful World Cup campaign, apart from a strangely subdued performance in the final. The Chelsea star certainly formed a formidable partnership with Paul Pogba in the middle of the park, while he also made twenty interceptions and won 73.3% of his tackles throughout the tournament. He also completed 88.4% of his 361 passes, as he constantly turned over the ball before distributing it in a admirably efficient manner.

Harry Maguire, Leicester City and England

A new generation of shining stars emerge from every World Cup and Harry Maguire is easily among this year’s leading lights. Solid at the back, comfortable on the ball and a huge threat in the opposing penalty area, Maguire scored England’s crucial opening goal in the 2-0 quarter-final win against Sweden. Maguire also made eighteen clearances during the tournament, while his pass completion rate of 88.8% was particularly impressive given his desire to move the ball forward at every opportunity.

Dejan Lovren, Liverpool and Croatia

Fans across the UK collectively scoffed when the much-maligned Dejan Lovren labelled himself as one of the best centre backs in the world, but his performances during the World Cup lent weight to his claim. The powerful defender completed 100% of his tackles throughout the tournament and also made thirty clearances as Croatia came under pressure during the knock-out games against Denmark, Russia and England.

Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City and Belgium

For the early part of the football tournament, the brilliant de Bruyne seemed frustrated in his deeper midfield role, struggling to influence games and replicate his Manchester City form. This changed in the knockout stages, with the superb midfielder influential in Belgium’s comeback win against Japan and Brazil’s stunning defeat. By the end of the tournament, de Bruyne boasts one goal and two assists, as well as twenty-three key passes in the final third.

Paul Pogba, Manchester United and France

For many, this was the tournament that finally saw the talented Paul Pogba come of age. He certainly assumed considerable responsibility in Didier Deschamps’ young side, combining defensive steel and discipline with outstanding passing and a sustained goal threat. The all-round brilliance of Pogba’s Russian performances are reflected in his statistics, which show him having completed 84.6% of his tackles, 80.2% of his 308 passes – an impressive 40.9% of which were played forward.

Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United and Belgium

While Harry Kane may have taken the Golden Boot, the quality and consistency of Lukaku’s displays in the knockout stages see him get our number nine spot. He terrorised Brazil’s defence during the Red Devils’ quarter-final win, while his pace, movement and power proved too much for most football players to handle. Ultimately, he scored four goals from five shots on target in Russia, while also providing an assist and four key passes.

Eden Hazard, Chelsea and Belgium

Wantaway Chelsea forward Eden Hazard is the fourth Belgian star on our list and another who lived up to his billing on the biggest possible football stage. From his stunning close control and dribbling ability to supreme movement, Hazard dazzled throughout and was his side’s main threat in the semi-final defeat against France. In addition to his three goals, Hazard also provided two assists and fifteen key passes, managing to keep the ball well with an 81.7% pass completion rate.

Son Heung-Min, Spurs and South Korea

While forward Son Heung-Min only featured in three World Cup games, he delivered every time he stepped onto the field and played a central role in his side’s historic 2-0 win against defending champions Germany.  Blessed with exceptional pace and movement, Son managed to score two goals during Korea’s brief campaign and completed six key passes. In total, he boasted an impressive 86.5% pass success rate, which is excellent given that he played primarily as a central striker.

 

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