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BRYAN ROBSON picks his best XI from Qatar… so, who makes the cut?

It’s been an enjoyable tournament, full of surprises and great moments for the underdog. But England falling short pained me.

I firmly believe if we had got past France we would have made it to the final and taken our chances with a really dogged Argentina side. But credit to France, they had the mentality of champions and showed maturity to get past Morocco and on to the final.

We can go forward with firm belief we are a team that can grow and be feared — but we need to be more streetwise to gain that edge and make these big finals.

This selection may raise eyebrows but Harry Kane dragged England forward at the World Cup

DOMINIK LIVAKOVIC Croatia

I thought Morocco’s Yassine Bounou was outstanding and has certainly made saves to make you go ‘wow’ but Livakovic has been pivotal for Croatia. His organisation, shot-stopping and penalty-saving exploits, particularly against Japan and Brazil, dragged Croatia through to the semi-finals. He kept them in games where they should have been dead and buried.

KYLE WALKER England

He only made three appearances but you can’t underestimate how well Walker did to come back from groin surgery and perform at the level he did. He had just under an hour against Wales, was clocking 21mph in his recovery sprints against Senegal and was tremendous against Kylian Mbappe. Achraf Hakimi of Morocco has had a great tournament but Walker cut such a dependable figure and did all the better when you consider what he came back from.

RAPHAEL VARANE France

I’ll probably get accused of Manchester United bias, but Varane has been a huge influence on France’s defence all the way through and held them together with his composure and anticipation. At times, those around him, such as Dayot Upamecano, have looked rash and prone to lunging in yet Varane covered well and got them out of trouble. He was terrific en route to the final.

JOSKO GVARDIOL Croatia

Still only 20 and he was a rock for Croatia. It’s no wonder Europe’s top clubs want to sign him. He’s powerful, reads the game really well and is good at coming out of defence. He may have been shown up by Lionel Messi but he’s not alone there and he will learn from that experience.

Kyle Walker did brilliantly to come back from groin surgery and play at the level he did

Kyle Walker did brilliantly to come back from groin surgery and play at the level he did 

THEO HERNANDEZ France

Had a rush of blood to the head giving away a penalty against Mason Mount but otherwise has been excellent in defence and attack. He scored a great goal against Morocco when he had the composure to get high over the ball and fire it into the ground — a bit like my finish against France in 1982 — so I know that’s an unbelievably difficult art… only kidding. But all the same, a wonderful goal from a tenacious defender.

CASEMIRO Brazil

Oozes calmness in the centre of the park and is an excellent passer of the ball. If you look, he plays a subtle role in a lot of Brazil’s best build-up play and he scored a cracking goal against Switzerland when his country truly needed him. Always steps up, is never afraid of taking responsibility and, fittingly, scored his penalty in the quarter-final against Croatia. There was a case for Declan Rice forcing himself in here too but I felt he could have done more against France in the quarter-final.

SOFYAN AMRABAT Morocco

His workrate, stamina and combative game were excellent. When you consider he was playing through back and muscle injuries towards the end it underlines his selfless attitude. He gave everything for the cause and had a terrific tournament. The adage is never buy a player based on a World Cup but I’m assured he turns in similar performances for Fiorentina and you can imagine there is now a queue forming for his services after.

Casemiro was brilliant for Brazil, he always steps up and is never afraid of taking responsibility

Casemiro was brilliant for Brazil, he always steps up and is never afraid of taking responsibility

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN France

He can do everything. If I’d have been playing for England against France I would have been moaning non-stop to get him sent off. He was really cute at breaking down England’s attacks with clever fouls and I’d lost count of how many he committed before he was even booked. A creative force but he did a destructive job, then to rub it in he delivers the quality cross for France’s quarter-final winner.

LIONEL MESSI Argentina

I’d give Messi license to roam behind the strikers so he’d need a midfield of Casemiro, Amrabat and Griezmann to do the legwork. He has turned it on when he has needed to. At times he simply conserves his energy and walks into space so that when he receives the ball in the pocket he can burst into the box and make things happen. He is still a brilliant talent with an incredibly sharp football brain.

Lionel Messi showed everyone he is still a brilliant talent with his performances this World Cup

Lionel Messi showed everyone he is still a brilliant talent with his performances this World Cup

HARRY KANE England

This selection may raise a few eyebrows but, even taking Olivier Giroud into account, I don’t think there’s been a better centre forward at this tournament. Yes, he missed a penalty but that can happen to anyone. There were times against France when he dragged England forward with his brilliance, which should have earned another penalty, and in previous games his workrate and movement created numerous chances for his teammates. This experience will make him even stronger.

KYLIAN MBAPPE France

His electric pace is a huge part of his game so you wonder how long he can continue with that as his main asset. He has talent too of course. He is powerful and has great shooting ability but I’m inclined to question whether he can hit and maintain the same levels that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have over the years. Still, not many defenders can cope with him and he’s crucial to a France team that has the know-how to make World Cup finals.

Not many defenders know how to cope with Kylian Mbappe's electric pace as well as his talent

Not many defenders know how to cope with Kylian Mbappe’s electric pace as well as his talent

ROBBO’S WORLD CUP XI (4-3-1-2)

Livakovic; Walker, Varane, Gvardiol, Hernandez; Casemiro, Amrabat, Griezmann; Messi; Kane, Mbappe

Bryan Robson's XI for the 2022 World Cup includes England's Harry Kane and Kyle Walker

Bryan Robson’s XI for the 2022 World Cup includes England’s Harry Kane and Kyle Walker

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