World Cup 2018: ST's Team of the tournament

World Cup: Straits Times picks our team of the tournament

Antoine Griezmann, 27 (France)
Antoine Griezmann, 27 (France)PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Kylian Mbappe, 19 (France)
Kylian Mbappe, 19 (France)PHOTO: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Romelu Lukaku, 25 (Belgium)
Romelu Lukaku, 25 (Belgium)PHOTO:S: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Raphael Varane, 25 (France)
Raphael Varane, 25 (France)PHOTO:S: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Domagoj Vida, 29 (Croatia)
Domagoj Vida, 29 (Croatia)PHOTO:S: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Lucas Hernandez, 22 (France)
Lucas Hernandez, 22 (France)PHOTO:S: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Jordan Pickford, 24 (England)
Jordan Pickford, 24 (England)PHOTO:S: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
N’Golo Kante, 27 (France)
N’Golo Kante, 27 (France)PHOTO:S: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Eden Hazard, 27 (Belgium)
Eden Hazard, 27 (Belgium)PHOTO: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Luka Modric, 32 (Croatia)
Luka Modric, 32 (Croatia)PHOTO: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Kieran Trippier, 27 (England)
Kieran Trippier, 27 (England)PHOTO:S: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE

The World Cup started with 736 players but only 11 made The Straits Times' team of the tournament. Here is a look at the talents who tormented opponents and thrilled fans

GOALKEEPER:

JORDAN PICKFORD, 24 (ENGLAND)

He had only three caps before the World Cup but played like a veteran, producing top saves against Sweden, Colombia and Belgium.

CENTRE-BACK:

RAPHAEL VARANE, 25 (FRANCE)

Just the ninth player to win the Champions League and World Cup in the same year. His pace, positioning and strength helped France keep four clean sheets.

LEFT-BACK:

LUCAS HERNANDEZ, 22 (FRANCE)

One of France's most consistent performers. His runs created two goals - Mbappe's strike in the final and fellow full-back Benjamin Pavard's against Argentina.

MIDFIELDER:

N'GOLO KANTE, 27 (FRANCE)

Save for his sub-par showing in the final - reportedly due to an illness - this workhorse was immense. His energy and interventions allowed the more creative stars to flourish.

FORWARD:

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN, 27 (FRANCE)

He got better as the tournament went on and was involved in more goals (five) than any other player in the knockout stages.

RIGHT-BACK:

KIERAN TRIPPIER, 27 (ENGLAND)

He was reliable at the back and going forward, creating 24 chances for team-mates - a record for an England player since Bobby Charlton's 18 in 1966.

CENTRE-BACK:

DOMAGOJ VIDA, 29 (CROATIA)

What he lacks in pace, he makes up for with his positioning, bravery and tackling. He headed in an extra-time semi-final winner and set up Ivan Perisic's goal in the final.

MIDFIELDER:

LUKA MODRIC, 32 (CROATIA)

He played 694 minutes in Russia but it was hard to tell because he makes football look effortless. He almost always picked out the right pass and dictated play.

FORWARD:

EDEN HAZARD, 27 (BELGIUM)

He scored three goals en route to Belgium's best finish of third. The 1.73m star's ability to shield the ball and win free kicks to disrupt the Selecao's rhythm was admirable.

FORWARD:

KYLIAN MBAPPE, 19 (FRANCE)

It was not Brazil star Neymar but another Paris Saint-Germain player who stole the show in Russia - with his blistering pace, sublime skills and composed finishing.

STRIKER:

ROMELU LUKAKU, 25 (BELGIUM)

He did not just display his all-round game by scoring with his left foot (twice), right foot and head. He pulled defenders away, allowing team-mates to shine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2018, with the headline 'The best, to boot'. Print Edition | Subscribe