The first, second and third XIs of the seven WC contenders

Date published: Wednesday 15th November 2017 8:07

With just two World Cup 2018 qualification spots left to fill – best of luck to Honduras, Australia, New Zealand and Peru – attention can now turn to the finals themselves in Russia next summer.

Eric Dier might not remember, but it is Germany who must defend the crown they won in extra-time against Argentina in the final in 2014. Joachim Low’s side are the bookmakers’ favourites to retain the trophy, while Argentina are fourth-favourites.

Of the remaining runners, Brazil are sure to compete, while Spain hope to atone for their group-stage exit in 2014. France will look to go one further than they did at Euro 2016, while Belgium, as has been the case for about two decades, will be everyone’s dark horse. Then there’s England.

It’s time to examine each of the seven favourites for the 2018 World Cup – again, going by bookmakers’ odds – to see how strong their first, second and third-choice XIs really are.

 


Germany

First XI:

Neuer

Kimmich Boateng Hummels Hector

Khedira Kroos

Muller Ozil Draxler

Werner

 

Second XI: Ter Stegen; Henrichs, Sule, Rudiger, Plattenhardt; Gundogan, Rudy; Sane, Goretzka, Reus; Stindl

Third XI: Leno; Howedes, Mustafi, Tah, Toljan; Can, Weigl; Younes, Gotze, Brandt; Gomez

Notable absentees: Trapp, Ginter, Halstenberg, Gerhardt, Meyer, Schurrle, Volland, Wagner

 


Brazil

First XI:

Alisson

Alves Miranda Marquinhos Marcelo

Paulinho Casemiro Augusto

Neymar Jesus Coutinho

 

Second XI: Ederson; Fagner, Silva, Gil, Luis; Giuliano, Fernandinho, Diego; Willian, Firmino, Costa

Third XI: Cassio; Rafinha, Jemerson, Luiz, Sandro; Fred, Walace, Danilo; Moura, Luan, Dudu

Notable absentees: Weverton, Fabinho, Oscar, Anderson, Gustavo, Lima, Taison, Diego Souza

 


Spain

First XI:

De Gea

Carvajal Pique Ramos Alba

Koke Busquets Iniesta

Silva Morata Isco

 

Second XI: Reina; Azpilicueta, Bartra, Nacho, Monreal; Thiago, Illarramendi, Fabregas; Vitolo, Rodrigo, Asensio

Third XI: Arrizabalaga; Odriozola, Albiol, I. Martinez, Moreno; Saul, J. Martinez, Mata; Suso, Costa, Nolito

Notable absentees: Rico, Juanfran, Herrera, Cazorla, Deulofeu, Pedro, Aspas

 


Argentina

First XI:

Romero

Mercado Mascherano Otamendi

Di Maria Biglia Banega Salvio

Messi Dybala

Icardi

 

 

Second XI: Guzman; Gomez, Fazio, Mammana, Rojo; Acuna, Pizarro, Perez, Gomez; Aguero, Higuain

Third XI: Rulli; Bustos, Pezzella, Maidana, Insua; Kranevitter, Gago; Acosta, Lanzini, Pastore; Benedetto

Notable absentees: Marchesin, Musacchio, Pinola, Paredes, Perotti, A. Fernandez, Lamela, Pavon

 


France

First XI:

Lloris

Sidibe Koscielny Umtiti Mendy

Kante Pogba

Mbappe Griezmann Lemar

Giroud

 

Second XI: Mandanda; Jallet, Varane, Laporte, Kurzawa; Tolisso, Matuidi; Sissoko, Fekir, Dembele; Lacazette

Third XI: Areola; Pavard, Kimpembe, Rami, Digne; Bakayoko, Rabiot; Thauvin, Payet, Martial; Gameiro

Notable absentees: Costil, Corchia, Zouma, Mangala, Nzonzi, Kondogbia, Coman, Benzema

 


Belgium

First XI:

Courtois

Alderweireld Kompany Vertonghen

Meunier Witsel Fellaini Carrasco

De Bruyne Hazard

Lukaku

 

Second XI: Mignolet; Foket, Vermaelen, Ciman, Lukaku; Dembele, Defour, Tielemans; Nainggolan, Chadli; Mertens

Third XI: Selz; Boyata, Kabasele, Pocognoli; Mirallas, Simons, Dendoncker, Gillet, Hazard; Benteke, Batshuayi

Notable absentees: Casteels, Lombaerts, Van Damme, Praet, Bongonda, Origi, Januzaj, Depoitre

 


England

First XI:

Hart

Jones Cahill Stones

Walker Dier Henderson Rose

Sterling Alli

Kane

 

Second XI: Butland; Trippier, Maguire, Gomez, Bertrand; Winks, Livermore, Lallana; Sturridge, Vardy, Rashford

Third XI: Pickford; Keane, Smalling, Gibson; Young, Loftus-Cheek, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Welbeck, Defoe, Walcott

Notable absentees: Heaton, Clyne, Shaw, Barkley, Cork, Delph, Lingard, Abraham

 

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