Belfast Telegraph

World Cup team of the tournament

France lifted the title with a 4-2 win over Croatia.

Croatia and England sprung the competition’s major surprises while France marched all the way to the 2018 World Cup title.

Here, Press Association Sport selects its team of the tournament.

FORMATION 3-5-2:

GK:  Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)

The Chelsea number one claimed the Golden Glove award as the tournament’s top goalkeeper with a string of fine individual performances – including three clean sheets – as Belgium finished third.

CB: Raphael Varane (France)

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Raphael Varane, right, has helped the France team of Didier Deschamps, left, excel at the World Cup (John Walton/PA)

The Real Madrid defender underscored his importance to France and status as one of the game’s best centre-backs as Les Bleus claimed their second World Cup crown.

CB:  Harry Maguire (England)

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Harry Maguire was one of England’s stars of the World Cup (Tim Goode/PA)

A powerful presence at both the back and in the opposition’s penalty area, the Leicester defender emerged as one of England’s stars of the World Cup as the Three Lions made it to the semi-finals for the first time in 28 years.

CB: Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)

The Tottenham star tied Belgium’s defensive set-up together, at times almost in spite of boss Roberto Martinez’s tactical tinkering.

RWB: Kieran Trippier (England)

The World Cup’s premier set-piece exponent came of age at Russia 2018, his dead-eye delivery so crucial to the success of Gareth Southgate’s men.

DM: N’Golo Kante (France)

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N’Golo Kante, left, helped France win the World Cup (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The world’s most destructive ball-stealing midfielder completes the work of two men, allowing newly-crowned world champions Les Bleus to stack the top end of the field with attacking weapons.

LWB: Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

The 22-year-old is unlikely to remain at CSKA Moscow much longer after a lung-busting tournament where his work rate typified hosts Russia’s relentless drive to the quarter-finals.

CM: Luka Modric (Croatia)

Already lauded as one of the planet’s top midfielders, Modric walked off with the Golden Ball as the World Cup’s best player on Sunday. The Real Madrid man was unable to guide Croatia to victory in the final against France, but he can leave the tournament with his head held high.

CM: Eden Hazard (Belgium)

Helped Belgium to their best-ever World Cup finish after beating England in the third-place play-off and cemented his reputation as one of the game’s top talents.  Was simply unstoppable at times and his efforts saw him finish second behind Luka Modric as player of the tournament.

CF: Kylian Mbappe (France)

Eyebrows were raised at Paris St Germain’s £166million fee to prise teen starlet Mbappe away from Monaco. Now those quizzical frowns have turned to belated expressions of appreciation. The fleet-footed forward has terrorised defences throughout Russia 2018 and netted his fourth goal of the competition in Sunday’s 4-2 final win over Croatia.

CF: Harry Kane (England, captain)

England’s talisman has the on-field power and the off-field poise to lead any forward line, and any team, anywhere in the world. Finished the tournament as the leading scorer with six goals, two more than his nearest challengers.

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