In this article we take a look at some of the young players that excelled for their countries in Russia 2018.
Yerry Mina – Colombia
The 23-year-old centre-backs cuts a domineering figure, standing at an impressive 6 foot 5, and he certainly put that to good use in Russia. Mina scored three goals for his country in three games, including a last-minute equaliser against England in the Round of 16.
The biggest stand out from Mina’s performance in that game was his defensive showing, especially from set-pieces. The young Colombian coupled well with Davinson Sanchez to keey England quiet from dead balls. His displays have earned him a move to Premier League side Everton, after an unsuccessful six month spell at Barcelona.
Jordan Pickford – England
As little as three months ago, the holder of the number 1 jersey for England was up for grabs, with Joe Hart, Nick Pope and Jordan Pickford all vying to be England’s starting ‘keeper at the World Cup.
Heading into the tournament, 33% of people suggested that England would be the biggest disappointment of the World Cup tournament, but thanks to the performances of Pickford, they overachieved.
The former Mackem stopper became the first English ‘keeper in history to win a penalty shoot-out, and his heroics helped England through to the semi-finals. Prior to the £71 million signing of Kepa, Pickford was thought to be Chelsea’s first-choice to replace Thibault Courtouis.
Lucas Hernandez – France
The World Cup in Russia was not exactly an exhibition for left-backs, but 22-year-old Hernandez excelled for France in the tournament. In the final, his astute defending provided the platform for his team to succeed, and he also managed to grab the assist for Kylian Mbappe’s goal.
Hernandez’s performances were even more encouraging when you consider that only 4% of people picked France to finish as eventual champions.
Kylian Mbappe – France
This round-up wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from the 19-year-old PSG frontman. His performance against Argentina in the Round of 16 was mesmerising and helped his country through a difficult tie.
Mbappe’s goal in the final was historical too as it marked the first World Cup final goal scored by a teenager since Brazilian legend Pele.
Rodrigo Bentancur – Uruguay
Although they fell at the quarter-final hurdle, Uruguay still managed to have an impressive tournament before narrowly falling to eventual winners France. 21-year-old Bentancur has struggled to make an impression for his club side Juventus, but he went some way to making a statement in Russia.
The lanky, versatile, talented midfielder shifted around opposition defences with his wand of a left-foot and imposed himself in every game he played. If Bentancur can add end-product to his attacking game, he will surely become of Europe’s biggest talents.