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.



First XI:


Kimmich Boateng Hummels Hector

Khedira Kroos

Muller Ozil Draxler



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



First XI:


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



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



First XI:


Mercado Mascherano Otamendi

Di Maria Biglia Banega Salvio

Messi Dybala




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



First XI:


Sidibe Koscielny Umtiti Mendy

Kante Pogba

Mbappe Griezmann Lemar



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



First XI:


Alderweireld Kompany Vertonghen

Meunier Witsel Fellaini Carrasco

De Bruyne Hazard



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



First XI:


Jones Cahill Stones

Walker Dier Henderson Rose

Sterling Alli



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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