Now that World Cup 2018 has been over for some time, with France coming out on top against an upstart Croatia team, you might be wondering where you can find all the stars from the tournament across the various football associations.
You’ve come to the right place!
FIFA doesn’t announce a Best XI from the tournament, which made this a little more difficult to complete. They did, however, give out four individual awards to seven individuals:
- Golden Ball (best overall player) (gold, silver, and bronze)
- Golden Ball (top scorer) (gold, silver, bronze)
- Golden Glove (best goalkeeper)
- Best Young Player
We’ll cover these seven players first, and most of these players have shown up on the various “best of the tournament” lists that I’ve seen floating around the internet.
Golden Ball – Luka Modrić (Croatia) – The Croatian midfielder became a bit more of a household name thanks to the Croatian team’s run to the finals against France, and Modrić was rewarded as the Croatian captain. He scored two goals in the group stage, to go along with one assists, and was successful on both his attempts at penalty kicks in Croatia’s Round of 16 win against Denmark and its quarter-final victory over host Russia. His steady presence should continue to be felt when he returns to Spanish club Real Madrid, where he has played since 2012 (and where he now wears the coveted number 10), where he’s scored nine goals in 166 appearances.
Silver Ball – Eden Hazard (Belgium) – Another midfielder, Hazard captained The Red Devils to a third-place finish in Russia, and returns to prep for the upcoming season with Chelsea among transfer rumors. Hazard was unhappy with the removal of Manager Antonio Conte and is apparently exploring his options. While he would prefer to move on to Real Madrid – which is also desperate to secure his services to replace the departed Cristiano Ronaldo – Barcelona may step in with an offer of their own. Chelsea is requesting a fee north of $234M for the transfer, and Real Madrid may be desperate enough to pay it. If he does manage to move on to Real Madrid, he would form a formidable midfield with Modrić, allowing the defending Spanish and Champions League champs to reload.
Bronze Ball & Silver Boot – Antoine Griezmann (France) – Griezmann was the only player to walk away with two individual trophies to go along with France’s championship in the 2018 World Cup, where he scored four goals and added two assists. He returns for league play with Atlético Madrid, who finished second to Real Madrid in the Spanish La Liga last year, as well as winning the UEFA Europa League title. As such, Atlético Madrid will compete for the Champions League this season with an outside chance of defending their Europa League title should things go south. Griezmann was Atlético Madrid’s leading scorer last season as well, which was evidenced by his primary goal scoring role for Les Bleus as well.
Golden Boot – Harry Kane (England) – Kane, England’s captain, won the Golden Boot after scoring six times in The Three Lion’s run to 4th place in Russia, and returns to lead Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. He is coming off his best league season for the Spurs, scoring 30 goals in 37 appearances, by far the leader in goals on the club and second behind Liverpool’s Mo Salah in the Premier League. The Spurs will hope to follow up their third place finish last year by again competing for the Premier League title, as well as improving on their Round of 16 loss in Champions League. The Spurs will go as far as Harry Kane helps them, and his form at the World Cup should be a good indicator that his success from last season should continue.
Bronze Boot – Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) – The Belgium striker was the third-best scorer during the World Cup, with four goals to go along with one assist. He returns to England for his second season at Manchester United, and like Kane, hopes his form in the World Cup will translate to success for his club in both the Premier League and Champions League. His 16 goals for Manchester United in league play last season were far from his career high, but still led his club, which finished a distant second behind Manchester City. He scored another 11 goals in all other competitions, which bodes well for the club as it hopes to compete again for a top spot in the Premier League and improve on its finish in the Champions League as well.
Golden Glove – Thibault Courtois (Belgium) – The third and final Belgian among the award winners earned the Golden Glove award for his performance in goal for third-place Belgium. He posted two clean sheets in the group stage, helping The Red Devils win their group over England, Panama, and Tunisia. In the rematch against England in the third-place game, he shut them out for a second time in the tournament, after giving up only one goal to France in their semifinal loss. In association football, he is currently on Chelsea, though with his contract set to expire at the end of this season, he may be looking for a new home, with Real Madrid as a leading competitor for his services, where he would most likely have to oust current starter Keylor Navas for the starting role.
Best Young Player – Kylian Mbappé (France) – The only other member of Les Bleus to be rewarded individually for France’s title, Mbappé was a revelation in the tournament and has been projected as the future best player in the world. He scored four times during the tournament – including the World Cup Fianl against Croatia – and if he had been able to add an assist or two, he may have been in line to win the Bronze Ball as well. After playing for Paris Saint-Germain on loan from Monaco last season, he will join the defending Ligue 1 champ on a permanent basis this season after PSG paid nearly $158M for his services in advance of the World Cup. His performance in Russia would have probably increased his value further, so PSG was wise to lock him up early on a contract that will keep him with the club through 2022. Should he continue his World Cup form, it’s easy to see PSG improve on their showing in the Champions League, where they lost in the Round of 16 to eventual champion Real Madrid.
These top seven players from the World Cup will be playing all over Europe this year, and can potentially cross paths in Champions League or other tournaments. They all have a proven track record of success with their respective clubs, so they will look to continue that in the season ahead.