football

The Ultimate World Cup EPL 11 – How would it Fare?

April 03, 2018

- Grant Whittington

With the Russia World Cup fast approaching, thoughts are already turning to the sides that will compete for the biggest prize in the sport.

While it’s hard to determine at this stage who will lift this most coveted of trophies at the Luzhniki Stadium on July 15th, one thing we can be sure of is that the Premier League will be extremely well-represented. In fact, there will be in excess of 100 EPL players on show in Russia, representing a myriad of countries from England and France to Peru.

Given the quality of the Premier League players on show, we thought it would be fun to put together a composite EPL eleven and see how it would fare at the World Cup. Here’s our selection:

GK – David De Gea, Spain

We start with a no-brainer in goal, and a man who is set to become Manchester United fans’ Player of the Year for the fourth time in five years. While some would argue that this is indicative of the Reds’ fortunes during this time, there’s no doubt that De Gea has grown into a world class shot-stopper who is arguably the best in the world. Also established as Spain’s number one, he has kept 20 clean sheets in 38 club outings this season and is an easy choice between the sticks.

RB – Kyle Walker, England

While some eyebrows were raised when Pep Guardiola spent more than £45 million on Kyle Walker, this now looks like an excellent investment. The Spaniard has certainly helped to improve Walker’s distribution and positional sense, without compromising his immense pace and attacking ability. With England, he has also shown potential as a right-sided centre back, as he continues to evolve into a versatile and capable performer at the very highest level.

LB – Jan Vertonghen, Belgium

While Spurs defender Vertonghen is best-renowned as a powerful centre back, he is equally at home in the left full back position. A solid tackler who is also aerially dominant, Vertonghen is capable of marauding forward with the ball and providing accurate service from wide areas, while he’s also an excellent dead-ball specialist. Interestingly, he regularly appears for Belgium in the left back position and has won most of his caps there, and his combination of strength, experience and attacking instinct make him a shoe-in for four our team.

CB – Vincent Kompany, Belgium

It was a tight call between Spurs defender Alderweireld and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany for our first pick at centre back, but we’ve gone for the latter thanks to his recent form and innate leadership abilities. Despite suffering from a series of injuries over the last few years, Kompany has returned to his best in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side while remaining as assured and dependable as ever. He’s sure to star in Russia, with Belgium one of the favourites to win the tournament this summer.

CB – Nicolas Otamendi, Argentina

Before the start of the season, there were rumours that centre back Nicolas Otamendi may be bombed out of Manchester City as part of Pep Guardiola’s defensive reshuffle. Not only did Otamendi remain at the Etihad, however, but he has arguably become Pep’s first choice centre back in a record-breaking season. Increasingly commanding as well as boasting a strong physical presence, Otamendi has also become a capable ball carrier who is happy to launch attacks and is key to Argentina’s hopes this summer.

DM – Nemanja Matic, Serbia

While Manchester United have flattered to deceive this season, Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic has been the glue that has held the team together. A dynamic and powerful force who is capable of both disrupting the opposition and contributing as an attacking force, he provides outstanding protection for his centre halves and is an assured presence in the bigger matches. In fact, there’s no doubt that he remains Serbia’s most accomplished player, and one who is key to their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of this summers’ World Cup.

CM – Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium

De Bruyne has been in incredible form this season, with the assist king having become a key focal point of Pep Guardiola’s dazzling Manchester City side. Blessed with outrageous vision and a unique range of passing, the Belgian has already provided 43 assists in just 93 EPL appearances during his career and is set to become the fastest ever to reach 50. As his form and confidence have grown, he has also become a key player on the international stage and he could well be the star of the show this summer in Russia,

RM – Mohamed Salah, Egypt

Our team would scarcely be complete without Egypt and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who has taken the Premier League by storm in his debut season. In fact, he has scored a staggering 37 goals in just 41 appearances this year, with 29 of these coming in only 31 league outings. He also has an impressive 33 goals in 57 internationals, while his pace, movement, direct running and dribbling ability make him a challenging proposition for any defender to contend with.

AM – Christian Eriksen, Denmark

There’s a lot of competition for our pivotal ‘number 10’ role, with players such as David Silva, Juan Mata and the enigmatic Mesut Ozil all in contention. Our nod goes to Tottenham’s brilliant but often underrated Danish international Christian Eriksen, however, whose guile and ever-improving eye for goal have made him a key player on the biggest stage. His unerring dead ball delivery is also a huge asset, as is his ability to link with other forwards and dictate the tempo of games.

LM – Leroy Sane, Germany

While De Bruyne may have stolen the headlines in the EPL this season, German winger Sane is arguably the most improved player in the league. He has always been precociously talented and fleet-of-foot, of course, but under the careful eye of Pep Guardiola his movement and final ball have also improved immeasurably. With 13 goals this season he has also become increasingly prolific at the business end of the pitch, and defending world champions Germany be the biggest beneficiaries of this improvement during the summer.

CF – Harry Kane, England

While there’s a myriad of EPL centre forwards to choose from, it’s hard to look beyond Spurs forward Harry Kane. After all, the striker has already scored 100 EPL goals before the age of 24, with his 102 strikes coming in just 142 outings for the North London club. He has also scored 70 goals in just 77 games over the last two seasons, making him one of the most prolific strikers in the world. Kane will be pivotal for the Three Lions this summer, as he has scored nine goals in his last 11 internationals (and 12 in 23 overall).

So there you have it; our composite EPL side for this years’ World Cup. If you think you could do better or feel as though we have missed some key players out, feel free to reach out and let us know!

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