FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament

When I graded each match in the 2014 World Cup, I used a weird, self-developed metric of pluses and minuses. While it worked, and I'm still happy with the results to this day, I thought I should make the grading metric a lot more straight forward (and, in turn, much easier to both analyse and understand). Then I thought back to the last thing I graded on a game-to-game basis: the Green Bay Packers. And what did I do for that? A normal, school-like GPA grading scale:

A+: 4.5; A: 4; A-: 3.67; B+: 3.33; B: 3; B-: 2.67; C+: 2.33; C: 2; C-: 1.67; D+: 1.33; D: 1; D-: 0.5; and F: 0

Anyone that simply passed high school in the U.S. can understand this grading scale. I rewarded near-perfect performance with an extra .22; hence the 4.5 for an A+, and I penalized a near-failure by taking away an extra .167, so a 0.5 for a D-. Easy, right? Since the tournament has concluded, I simply put the letter grade instead of the specific GPA number (it's also a lot easier on the eye). That being said, here are the best players of the 2018 World Cup:


GK: Guillermo Ochoa - Mexico, 32, Standard Liege (Belgium) - A

LB: Aleksandar Kolarov - Serbia, 32, Roma (Italy) - B+

CB: Yerry Mina - Colombia, 23, Barcelona (Spain) - A

CB: Andreas Granqvist - Sweden, 33, Krasnodar (Russia) - A-

RB: Kieran Trippier - England, 27, Tottenham (England) - A-

MF: Luka Modric - Croatia, 32, Real Madrid (Spain) - A

MF: Kevin De Bruyne - Belgium, 27, Manchester City (England) - A-

MF: Paul Pogba - France, 25, Manchester United (England) - A-

FW: Eden Hazard - Belgium, 27, Chelsea (England) - A+

FW: Harry Kane - England, 24, Tottenham (England) - A

FW: Antoine Griezmann - France, 27, Atletico Madrid (Spain) - A-


GK: Kasper Schmeichel - Denmark, 31, Leicester (England) - A-

LB: Lucas Hernandez - France, 22, Atletico Madrid (Spain) - B

CB: Jose Maria Gimenez - Uruguay, 23, Atletico Madrid (Spain) - B+

CB: Diego Godin - Uruguay, 32, Atletico Madrid (Spain) - B+

RB: Thomas Meunier - Belgium, 26, PAris SG (France) - B+

MF: Ivan Rakitic - Croatia, 30, Barcelona (Spain) - A-

MF: Philippe Coutinho - Brazil, 26, Barcelona (Spain) - B+

MF: Andres Iniesta - Spain, 34, Vissel Kobe (Japan) - B

FW: Romelu Lukaku - Belgium, 25, Manchester United (England) - A-

FW: Denis Cheryshev - Russia, 27, Villarreal (Spain) - A-

FW: Kylian Mbappe - France, 19, Paris SG (France) - A-


GK: Thibaut Courtois - Belgium, 26, Chelsea (England) - A-

LB: Ashley Young - England, 33, Manchester United (England) - B

CB: Toby Alderweireld - Belgium, 29, Tottenham (England) - B

CB: Raphael Varane - France, 23, Real Madrid (Spain) - B

RB: Birkir Saevarsson - Iceland, 33, Valur (Iceland) - B

MF: Nacer Chadli - Belgium, 28, West Brom (England) - B

MF: Keisuke Honda - Japan, 32, Pachuca (Mexico) - B

MF: Juan Quintero - Colombia, 25, Porto (Portugal) - B

FW: Mario Mandzukic - 32, Croatia, Juventus (Italy) - B+

FW: Neymar - Brazil, 26, Paris SG (France) - B+

FW: Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal, 33, Juventus (Italy) - B+


Jordan Pickford, GK, England

Ehsan Haji Safi, LB, Iran

Harry Maguire, CB, England

Simon Kjaer, CB, Denmark

Mario Fernandes, RB, Russia

Carlos Sanchez, RM, Uruguay

Jesse Lingard, AM, England

N'Golo Kante, DM, France

Wahbi Khazri, FW, Tunisia

Dries Mertens, FW, Belgium

Artem Dzyuba, ST, Russia

Note: This was definitely the year of the Goalkeeper. All of the top three keepers had "A-" grades of better, and even after Jordan Pickford rounds out the honorable mention, there were six more keepers (Igor Akinfeev of Russia, Alireza Beiranvan of Iran, Robin Olsen of Sweden, Danijel Subasic of Croatia, Manuel Neuer of Germany, and Hannes Halldorsson of Iceland) with "B+" grades. That's 10 Goalies above a 3.0 GPA.