The team of the tournament will be revealed after the World Cup final, but we've gotten a jump on the Best XI of Russia 2018 thus far on our latest podcast episode.
The World Cup will come to an end on Sunday, when France and Croatia meet in the final in Moscow. The team of the tournament and other individual awards will be revealed afterwards, but we've gotten a jump on the Best XI of Russia 2018 on our latest podcast episode.
Listen for our picks in the full episode below, which also includes an interview with Fox's Jenny Taft, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes to hear each episode throughout the 2018 World Cup.
Here's a snippet of the latest episode:
GRANT WAHL: I've got a 4-3-3 here. The one thing about Best XIs that I don't like is when you try to shoehorn certain people in there, and it's not a positionally sound lineup.
BRIAN STRAUS: It should resemble a team that could actually take the field and play a functional soccer game.
GW: Right. So, this isn't going to be like a four forward lineup here, let's just put it that way. ... My 4-3-3, my goalkeeper is Danijel Subasic from Croatia.
BS: Heroic. Just an incredible effort.
GW: Yeah, he's been amazing. They've won two penalty kick shootouts. He was solid in the group stage, he's done one of those penalty kick shootouts on one leg. I mean, that's a pretty straightforward call, correct?
BS: Yeah, that's not to say that Lloris and Courtois and some other guys haven't been excellent. The Lloris save ... the Belgian shot through traffic, and Lloris dove to his right. That was one of the saves of the tournament, that stands out. But yeah, you win two penalty shootouts, you lead a back line in a team through three games like the ones Croatia has survived. You do it injured. You do it as a talisman. I'm with you on that, absolutely.
GW: Right back: Kieran Trippier of England, who I would not have predicted would be the best right back of the tournament, but I think he has been the best right back of the tournament.
BS: Would not have predicted? I had no idea who he was! (laughs). That's been the charm of this England team. Guys who were secondary and tertiary players on their clubs stepping up in a way when put in a certain kind of environment and given certain responsibilities and confidence that have just been wonderful. Harry Maguire certainly is one, but Trippier, and I'm not the first person to say this, but we haven't seen a player in an England shirt strike a ball like that since David Beckham. Brilliant on crosses. Brilliant on set plays. A threat and a menace from different positions because of the way he can deliver a ball from any part on the field. I just really enjoyed watching him.
When I watched England in this tournament, he was the guy that so frequently caught my eye, and I'll spend time looking for him now during the Premier League season when before I didn't notice him.
GW: Center back: My first center back I've got Dejan Lovren for Croatia, who has not always been one of our favorites, with Liverpool, and he's been totally solid in this tournament. A little bit of a difficult choice between him and (Domagoj) Vida, who has also been very good for Croatia. But I'm going to go with Lovren here, who has not been shy here about saying he is one of the world's great center backs. Now I don't know if I'd go that far, but I will say he's been one of the best center backs at this tournament.
BS: Maybe Vida edged it out for me, and maybe it's because the fact that he looks like a bad guy from Die Hard or because of some of the stuff he's done on the offensive part of the field, but you can go either way.
GW: Another center back: Diego Godin from Uruguay. And I know he went out in the quarterfinals and didn't get beyond that. But at one point, about midway through the tournament, maybe slightly past that, Godin would have been my player of the tournament, and it's good to recognize how good he was. He is–Dejan Lovren might not say this–I think Godin is the best center back in the world.
BS: I think both France center backs deserve a shout. Umtiti ... and Raphael Varane have both been excellent. Vincent Kompany, I thought I saw him make some plays throughout the tournament. Harry Maguire, mentioned him already, maybe he's in with a shout. Yerry Mina, goal-scoring tour de force for Colombia. I don't know how often you give a team that went out in the round of 16 some love, but those are some names that jump out, but don't have a problem with yours.
GW: All those guys had good tournaments. I thought Umtiti, if you're going to split hairs, had that bad penalty in the group stage. I would've potentially picked Varane if I hadn't gone with Lovren or Godin. It's a tough one. But that's why we make these teams. Left back was actually the hardest one for me to pick. ... Marcelo would be sort of your obvious choice pre-tournament, but then he missed a couple of games due to injury, or at least one, and Brazil went out. And I don't think Marcelo was actually that influential when he was in. In the end.
BS: He didn't play enough. Not enough of an impact.
GW: That's for the same reason Vincent Kompany I didn't pick as a center back, because he missed the first three games of the tournament. So Lucas Hernandez, from France. ... I think he has been very, very solid, and I don't think anyone else has been. Even (Ivan) Strinic on the Croatia side hasn't been totally solid. Belgium didn't really have a left back, and the one closest to it, (Jan) Vertonghen, who certainly had some moments that weren't great. So Lucas Hernandez.
Continue listening for the remainder of our Best XI picks in the midfield and forward positions in the podcast console above or download and subscribe to the podcast here.