Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?
The World Cup is finally done and dusted, with France overcoming the mighty Croatia to be crowned champions for the second time.
But allow us to get all nostalgic for a minute, because over the course of the last few weeks, we ran into some pretty snazzy players that – quite frankly – we knew next to nothing about before.
So here’s our list of completely unlikely stars of the World Cup that graced our hearts, minds and fantasy football teams.
Who was your favourite?
13 Benjamin Pavard
France’s curly-haired kid went to Russia as Didier Deschamps’ second-choice right-back, but finished up as one of their World Cup heroes.
The Stuttgart starlet started Les Bleus group opener against Australia and never looked back, putting in some stellar displays that included one of best goals we’ve ever seen in their clash with Argentina.
12 Andreas Granqvist
Did you recognise this guy?
Roughly 10 years ago, he had a pretty unremarkable and relatively short spell with Wigan, lasting just a few months before heading back to Sweden – then making a career for himself in Holland, Italy and Russia.
At the World Cup this summer, we was Sweden’s fearless skipper; leading from the back and carrying them to the top of their group and all the way to the quarter-finals.
Not only that, but he netted two goals and helped Sweden achieve three clean sheets to become of the biggest stars of Dream Team’s World Cup game with a tasty haul of 45 points.
11 Kieran Trippier
Now here’s someone we’re all somewhat more familiar with, eh?
Trippier captured the imagination of the nation this summer, spearheading England’s unlikely road to the semi-final as one of the team’s best players of the tournament.
In fact, it was his brilliant free-kick in the semi-final clash with Croatia which had us all believing… for roughly 60 minutes or so, anyway.
10 Harry Maguire
Admit it, he’s your new favourite player, isn’t he?
The centre-back brilliance of Maguire and his giant skull was one of the highlights of our summer, and has made him an unlikely household name in these parts.
His goal against Sweden sent the Three Lions’ on the way to their first semi-final appearance in 28 years, while his assists for Harry Kane’s opener against Tunisia will be long-remembered.
Could be a mover this summer, keen an eye on those back-pages.
9 Lucas Hernandez
Having lived in Spain since an early age, Atletico defender Hernandez had the option to play for the country he more-or-less grew up in.
Luckily, he opted for the blue shirt of his birth-place and is now a World Cup champion.
Often preferred to Lucas Digne and Benjamin Mendy in France’s line-up leading up to the tournament, Hernandez became a mainstay for his performances in the group stage and beyond.
In fact, he finished up as the fourth-best defender you could pick on Dream Team World Cup, so we hope you had him in your team.
8 Denis Cheryshev
Villarreal winger Cheryshev wasn’t even a starter for Russia going into this tournament.
That’s not exactly encouraging, is it?
But after coming off the bench in their opener against Saudi Arabia, the former Real Madrid academy starlet went onto score four goals in five games for the hosts and was largely their best player, inspiring them all the way to the quarter-finals – even overcoming Spain in the process.
7 Marouane Fellaini
We know, we shouldn’t encourage him, should we?
But the thing is, much like he does for Man United, Fellaini has a very specific role to play in Belgium’s squad.
A goal against Japan, an all-action display against Brazil and then… a role on the left wing against France?
Well, that moment aside, it was a decent summer for everyone’s favourite bruiser.
6 Martin Caceres
At one point, we all kind of thought they’d win the World Cup.
But then Edinson Cavani got injured and they lost to France, meaning Luis Suarez didn’t get to sink his teeth into anything 36.8 centimetres and golden.
Shame that, eh?
Still, we should take a moment to appreciate the all-round efficiency of Uruguay’s defence.
We all know about the excellence of Diego Godin, while Jose Gimenez will surely just get better and better.
And then there was Martin Caceres, who quietly got on with it on the flank despite playing only a handful of games since his three months of nothingness with Southampton a year ago.
5 Yerry Mina
It’s hard not to love this guy, isn’t it?
Mina became a fantasy football must-have this summer, racking up an incredible points total that made him a Dream Team World Cup favourite.
Three goals from centre-back – including that late header against England that forced extra-time – tying him for the record of most goals scored by a defender at a single World Cup tournament.
A teams are said to be hot on his tail this summer – including Leicester and West Ham – with him seemingly on the fringes at Barcelona.
4 Domagoj Vida
When it comes to Croatia, it’s all about Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and, umm, Dejan Lovren, right?
But this blonde-haired tough guy deserves some serious respect, and not just for his goal in the (eventual) win over Russia.
Vida was so good at this World Cup, in fact, that he actually notched more Dream Team points than his teammate Rakitic, and he’s apparently firmly on the radar of Liverpool this summer, who need a new centre-back really, don’t they?
3 Cho Hyun-woo
This one’s about as surprising as they come.
Cho Hyun-woo was so unknown going into this tournament that absolutely no one picked him for our Dream Team World Cup game.
But he won’t care about that, will he?
Originally meant to be Korea’s third-choice goalkeeper, he found himself in the starting line-up for their opener due to being taller than the other goalies.
It was just as well, because he put in three awe-inspiring performances in Group F against Sweden and Mexico (despite being on the losing-side), before breaking the internet in their incredible win over Germany.
2 Nordin Amrabat
Watford fans will be waving goodbye to this lad over the next few weeks, as he’s been linked with a move to one of those exciting-sounding Saudi Arabian clubs.
But let’s remember him for his World Cup performances, shall we?
Amrabat was one of Morocco’s best players at the World Cup, playing in all three of their group games and memorably hit the bar in their last game against Spain.
He also caused a bit of controversy when he criticised the VAR system after the final whistle.
1 Paul Pogba
We thought we’d leave the best ’til last.
Everyone – except Graeme Souness, perhaps – has enjoyed Pogba’s role in France’s World Cup win, as the Man United misfit proved instrumental to their success.
Alongside N’Golo Kante in the centre, Pogba used all of his power and technical skill to get the better of Luka Modric in the final, and will surely return to United eager to push on this season.
Fans of the club will surely be hoping to see the former Juventus midfielder replicate his World Cup performances in the Premier League, but time will tell if Jose Mourinho is able to get the same out of him.
Let’s roll on the Premier League season, eh?
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