The World Cup is just round the corner. Will there be the inevitable disappointment of seeing England crash out early in the tournament? Will Mohamed Salah be back fit in time for the tournament? Who knows. But what we do know, is that there will be stand out performers as there are at every World Cup.
With the 2018 World Cup just over two weeks away, I have predicted what I believe could be the “Team of the Tournament.”
Goalkeeper: Alisson (Brazil)
I believe that the inevitable winners, Brazil will barely concede with the Roma shot-stopper between the sticks. Alisson will win the golden glove award and will take the goalkeepers space in the team of the best players in the tournament.
Right Back: Thomas Meunier (Belgium)
I predicted that Belgium will win Group G and reach the quarter-finals after knocking out Colombia in the Round of 16 but being beaten by Brazil to the Semi-finals. One of Belgium’s star performers will be Thomas Meunier - who will continue the form that saw him win Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain and take the title of the best right back at the tournament.
Centre Back: Mats Hummels (Germany)
Despite being knocked out by England at the quarter-finals in one of the upsets of the tournament, Hummels will be one of the standout defenders in Russia after not conceding at all during the group stages and scoring the winning goal in the Round of 16 against Colombia.
Centre Back: Samuel Umtiti (France)
I think France will reach the Semi-finals of the World Cup this year and part of their journey will be down to the reliable Samuel Umtiti. France’s record of the second highest number of clean sheets in the competition will be one of the main reasons behind them reaching the semi-final stage and the Barcelona centre-back will be their main man.
Left Back: Marcelo (Brazil)
Marcelo is one of, if not the best defender in the world and this year’s World Cup will only strengthen the evidence behind that statement. The highest scoring team and eventual winners, Brazil, will owe a lot to Marcelo’s world-class experience and ability. His fine form from the season will continue as he assists his way to World Cup glory for the first time.
Midfield: Paul Pogba (France)
Despite having his critics, Paul Pogba is a fine player. The 2018 World Cup will be the place where he shuts up his naysayers, showcases his talents and justifies his hefty price tag. With the most assists in the tournament, he will be vital in France's journey to the semi-finals and his knee injury against Brazil in the semi will be the main reason why Les Bleus wouldn’t progress.
Midfield: Toni Kroos (Germany)
Before the beginning of the knockout rounds, many were tipping Germany to go on and win the competition thanks to the fine form of Toni Kroos. An important part of the machine behind both Real Madrid and Germany’s success, Kroos will be one of the standout players, even shining brightly in the shock quarter-final defeat to England when the rest of the side seemed to let him down.
Midfield: Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)
Brazil were always going to be a force to be reckoned with the combination of Neymar, Philipe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus. Coutinho pulling the strings in midfield would allow Neymar to get to second in the race for the golden boot, even chipping in with three goals himself including the 67th-minute free kick that will win the competition.
Forward: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Messi? Ronaldo? The eternal debate will continue at the World Cup but it will be the Argentine that comes away better off thanks to Argentina reaching the semi-finals, beating Portugal in the process. One of the players to light up the tournament, Messi will captain his nation well, only showing signs of slowing down when they were beaten by England in the semi-final. Even his hattrick against the Three Lions couldn’t cancel out the four first-half goals, meaning he would still have to wait to lift a trophy with his nation.
Forward: Neymar (Brazil)
Another of the best players in the world, Neymar will finally live up to the hype that has surrounded him since he first appeared on the international stage. He will answer the questions that may have once hung over him and his lethal partnership with Coutinho and Jesus will be what ultimately wins the competition for Brazil. Coming second in the golden boot competition he will score 7 goals.
Forward: Harry Kane (England)
Despite all of the disappointment of the past, Harry Kane will not only captain his nation to the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time since Italia ‘90 but will also end the competition as the highest scorer with 8 goals to his name, including a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Poland in the round of 16. This will be the tournament when England's youthful squad manage to exceed the expectations of a nation that has been disappointed in every major competition in recent memory and Kane will finally be recognised as up there with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Some of these choices may be questionable but I do believe that England will shock everybody and do surprisingly well, Brazil will win the competition and Kane will win the golden boot.
Do you agree with Danny's predictions? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us using the hashtag #AOF!