Check out our starting XI from the players displayed in our World Cup map along with some key information about the players themselves. Do you agree with our choices? Who would you put in your team?
Formation 4-4-2 (Diamond)
Goalkeeper: Fernando Muslera
Uruguay’s number one has long been a consistent performer at the top level. Despite being born in Buenos Aires, the 6ft 3in shot stopper never represented his home city or Argentina at any level. He currently plies his trade with Turkish club Galatasaray having previously played for Lazio, Nacional, and Montevideo Wanderers. He played a key role in the Uruguay national teams that won the 2011 Copa America and reached the 2010 World Cup Semi-Finals. Muslera also set a record for the longest period of time without conceding at a World Cup at the tournament in South Africa.
Right Back: Cedric Soares
Southampton right back Cedric could have played for Germany after spending his formative years in Singen, Baden-Wurttemburg but has represented Portugal for every age group at international level. Cedric’s playing career was moulded at Portuguese Primeira Liga club Sporting Lisbon, where he made 67 appearances after originally joining their youth system at the age of eight. Brief spells with Academica on loan and Sporting Lisbon B followed before his 2015 move to the Saints. He was part of the successful Portugal national team that won the 2016 European Championship.
Centre Back: Samuel Umtiti
Barcelona centre back Umtiti defied the attempts of the Cameroon FA to persuade him to represent his birth country, and he has gone on to play for France at every age level of the national team from the Under-17s up to the senior side. He was selected by head coach Didier Deschamps in the 2016 European Championship squad that finished runners-up. It was at that competition that he became the first French player to make their international debut at a major tournament since Gabriel De Michele back in 1966. Umtiti won the Coupe de France with former club Lyon in 2012. Since joining Barcelona in 2016, he has won La Liga in 2017 and Copa del Rey in 2017 and 2018.
Centre Back: Pepe
Experienced Besiktas centre back Pepe crafted a reputation for being an aggressive and controversial defender during his days with La Liga side Real Madrid. The former Maritimo and Porto player was named Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira as a tribute to the scientists Johannes Kepler and Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran. During his international career, Pepe has won the 2016 European Championship and was named in the UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Pepe was once contacted by former Brazil head coach Dunga to represent his birth nation in 2006 but has never played for Brazil at any level of international football.
Left Back: Vedran Corluka
Versatile defender Corluka began his playing career with Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb after his family escaped the horrors of the 1992 Bosnian War. His club career has seen him play for Inter Zapresic on loan, Manchester City, Tottenham, Bayer Leverkusen on loan, and Lokomotiv Moscow. He has represented Croatia across all national age groups due to residency rules. The Bosnian-born player has been a part of Croatia’s European Championship squads in 2008, 2012, and 2016 as well as the country’s 2014 World Cup campaign.
Defensive Midfield: Thiago
Thiago is a player with fascinating heritage. Born in Italy, he split his time growing up in Brazil and Spain due to his Brazil World Cup-winning father Mazinho’s playing career. He was drafted into the Flamengo youth set-up at an early age but moved to play for Spanish clubs Ureca and then Kelme as his family moved around with his father. The creative playmaker then returned to Flamengo when his father’s career took him back to Brazil. In 2005, Thiago moved to Barcelona where he made 68 appearances before transferring to Bayern Munich in 2013. Even though he was eligible for Brazil and Italy at international level, Thiago has only ever represented Spain due to the time he has spent living in the country.
Centre Midfield: Mateo Kovacic
At just 24 years of age, Kovacic is one of the brightest prospects in world football. The versatile midfielder currently plays for Real Madrid and has played a key role in the club’s success of recent years. He had previously graduated from the Dinamo Zagreb youth team and spent three seasons with Serie A side Inter Milan. Due to being born in Austria and having Bosnian-Croat parents, Kovacic is able to speak five languages: English, Croatian, German, Spanish, and Italian. In 2009, Kovacic suffered a broken leg and spent a prolonged period of time on the sidelines before returning to action in 2010. He has represented Croatia at all levels.
Centre Midfield: Ivan Rakitic
Barcelona midfielder Rakitic has won three La Liga titles, four Copa del Rey trophies, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, and one FIFA Club World Cup with his current team. He also won the Europa League with Sevilla in 2014 and the Swiss Cup with Basel in 2007, making him one of the most decorated Croatia players of all time. However, after representing his birth nation of Switzerland at Under-21 level, it was almost not to be for this Croatian star. It was only when he was persuaded by then-Croatia head coach Slaven Bilic to switch allegiance that Rakitic made his full senior debut for the nation of his parents in 2007.
Attacking Midfield: Raheem Sterling
Sterling is one of the hottest prospects in European football but, having been born in Kingston, Jamaica, there was a chance he might never have represented England. Fortunately, for English fans, after his move to England his family never looked back. Sterling started his football life with the youth academy at QPR when he was just 9 years old. He later moved to Liverpool in 2010 for a fee of around £5 million. Sterling then signed for Manchester City for a staggering £50 million in 2015. This summer will be the winger’s third major tournament representing England, having previously played at the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship.
Striker: Diego Costa
Split loyalties is personified by Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa. The former Chelsea frontman earned two international caps for his birth nation Brazil in 2013, before making the switch to play for Spain in a high-profile and controversial case. FIFA eligibility rules stated that Costa was able to switch nationality because he acquired a new nationality through Spanish citizenship in 2013 and had not appeared in competitive matches for Brazil. Costa was part of the Spain squad at the 2014 World Cup, but failed to make the national side for the 2016 European Championship.
Striker: Gonzalo Higuain
Juventus striker Higuain is a natural born scorer, with more than 200 club and 30 international goals to his name. Not only was Higuain’s father a professional footballer but his brother, Federico, also plays professionally for MLS side Columbus Crew as a striker. Higuain had his Argentina citizenship approved in 2007 and he went on to make his debut for the Argentina national side in 2009. He has since helped them to finish runners-up at the 2014 World Cup and Copa America in 2015 and 2016.
That concludes our dream team for the upcoming 2018 World Cup made up of players that have been eligible for more than one country that are competing at this summer’s tournament. Do you agree with our selections? Why not take a look at our World Cup Map and see who you would pick for your squad!