The World Cup Dream Team From The Group Stage
Now that the group stage is over, everyone’s focus is beginning to shift toward the action of the Round of 16. But before that begins, let’s take a look at who performed the best for their countries in the group stages. Some put their nation on their backs, and others played key roles for their country without getting on the scoresheet or getting all the plaudits. Without further ado, here’s the group stage World Cup dream team of the 2018 World Cup! As always, a simple 4-4-2 formation is how we are going to form this team.
World Cup Dream Team — Group Stage
Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)
Much like the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Guillermo Ochoa has been a crucial player for Mexico. He made 17 saves across all three group stage matches, proving his worth as Mexico made it into the Round of 16. Whether it be claiming a cross or pulling off a save that you just never thought was possible, Ochoa has been doing it all for Mexico. Against Brazil, Ochoa will need to perform like he did against them in 2014 if Mexico wants a chance of making it to the quarterfinals.
Andreas Granqvist (Sweden), Yerry Mina (Colombia), John Stones (England), Diego Godin (Uruguay)
Yes, we are aware that these are four center backs, but the dream team is purely based on how they performed as opposed to fitting in every logistical position.
Sweden’s captain Andreas Granqvist scored two goals for Sweden and was a rock at the back, as his communication and organization of his team were critical in victories over South Korea and Mexico.
Godin was at the heart of a Uruguay defense that did not concede a goal, and he was composed at all times during each match.
Yerry Mina came up clutch with some important goals for Colombia, as well as playing out of his skin against Poland to completely nullify the effect of Robert Lewandowski.
John Stones scored twice for England but has also been very mature in the three-man back line, as he has been playing the ball out of defense and into the midfield with newfound confidence after an incredibly successful season under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), Luka Modrić (Croatia), N’Golo Kanté (France), Denis Cheryshev (Russia)
All of these midfielders except for Kanté managed to get on the scoresheet at some point during the group stage, but each of them were vital cogs in the midfield engine room for their respective teams.
Coutinho scored one of the goals of the tournament to put Brazil ahead against Switzerland in their opening match and was a constant threat during the matches he played in.
Luka Modrić has experienced a new life now that he is playing further up the field than he is used to in somewhat of an attacking midfield role as opposed to his usual box-to-box role that he fulfills playing for Real Madrid. His intelligence on and off the ball is one of the key reasons as to why Croatia has experienced its success so far.
What can’t N’Golo Kanté do? The guy is everywhere on the pitch, breaking up play, winning the ball and starting an attack. It seems if Kanté does not play well for France, then Les Bleus does not play well. The French pocket rocket zips around the field with ease, and France coach Didier Deschamps will be hoping for more of the same from Kanté.
Hometown hero Cheryshev wasn’t even meant to start the opening match against Saudi Arabia, but after an early injury to Alan Dzagoev, Cheryshev was substituted on and took his opportunity with both hands. He bagged a double in his opening game with two remarkable goals and then also scored against Egypt to continue his strong performance in his home country.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Harry Kane (England)
Harry Kane is not taking corners anymore and that has worked wonders. Whatever Roy Hodgson was on when he made that decision, we’ll have some of that too. Kane banged in a match-winning double against Tunisia and then a hat-trick against Panama. Obviously not the strongest sides, but it is a significant confidence boost for the young captain.
Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t need any introduction. A hat trick to kick off the World Cup against Spain of all teams? Are you freakin’ kidding me? CR7 followed it up with the only goal in a victory over Morocco and was always a threat against Iran. Ronny shows his true worth when his back is against the wall, and Portugal will need all of his talent to make a deep run in the knockout stages.
Janne Andersson (Sweden)
Before the tournament began, many people had Sweden crashing out of the group stages. Instead, they topped their group by defeating South Korea and Mexico while losing in the harshest of ways to Germany. Andersson deserves full credit for the way he has set up his team to be completely organized and resolute in defense as well as clinical in attack. Andersson will be looking to guide this Sweden team as deep as he can, and there is no reason why he can’t do just that.
Of course, there are plenty of other deserving players that could have easily made our World Cup Dream Team of the group stages. But rejection is never easy. We’d like to honor those that came close but didn’t get the cigar.
Kasper Schmeichel (GK, Denmark), Thiago Silva (CB, Brazil), Simon Kjær (CB, Denmark), Juan Fernando Quinteiro (CAM, Colombia), Paulinho (CM, Brazil), Eden Hazard (CF, Belgium), Romelu Lukaku (ST, Belgium), Diego Costa (ST, Spain)