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FIFA awards Golden Ball, Young Player, Golden Boot

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FIFA has named several award winners for the 2018 World Cup, with top honors going to one of the runners-up (again).

Despite the loss, Croatia’s Luka Modric was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. Eden Hazard (Belgium) finished second, and Antoine Griezmann third.

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Modric, 32, becomes the fifth-straight winner to hail from a nation that did not lift the World Cup Trophy. Lionel Messi, Diego Forlan, Zinedine Zidane, and Oliver Kahn won the previous three, with Brazil’s Ronaldo the last to claim it via a World Cup winner in 1998

Harry Kane won the Golden Boot, as expected, with six goals, while Spain won the Fair Play Award.

The best young player is no shock: French forward Kylian Mbappe.

The Golden Glove went to Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois

World Cup Most Disappointing XI players

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With the final around the corner, we here at ProSoccerTalk already put together a list of our World Cup Team of the Tournament. With stars like Luka Modric, Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, and K’Golo Kante headlining the list of players performing at the highest level on the biggest stage, the summer has no doubt proven as exciting as ever.

[ MORE: PST Writers pick their World Cup Best XI ]

However, there’s always another side of the coin. Many top teams disappointed heavily this summer, and with that comes poor individual performances from those expected to have a major impact. This summer has seen players who may have slipped from stardom to obscurity due to age or poor form. So who was the most disappointing? Some of us here put together a starting lineup of players who have underwhelmed compared to expectations.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Teams such as Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina are heavily represented, as are other European nations like Denmark, Switzerland, and Poland who would have expected to perform better given their lofty FIFA rankings. Finally, the African nations will be disappointed to not reach the knockout phase, and make an appearance as a result.


Without further ado, here are some of our Disappointing Teams of the Tournament:

Kyle Bonn (4-3-3 formation)

GK: David De Gea (Spain)
DF: Alba (Spain), Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina), Gerard Pique (Spain), Lukasz Piszczek (Poland)
MF: Sami Khedira (Germany), Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Javier Mascherano (Argentina)
FW: Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Thomas Muller (Germany)

Matt Reed (3-4-3 formation)

GK: David de Gea
DF: Joshua Kimmich (Germany), Nicolas Otamendi, Gerard Pique
MF: Bernardo Silva (Portugal), Javier Mascherano, Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Mesut Ozil (Germany)
FW: Gabriel Jesus, Timo Werner (Germany), Robert Lewandowski

Daniel Karell (3-4-3 formation)

GK: David de Gea
DF: Gerard Pique, Nicolas Otamendi, Mats Hummels (Germany)
MF: Marco Reus (Germany), Javier Mascherano, Antoine Griezmann (France), Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
FW: Neymar (Brazil), Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Nicholas Mendola (4-3-3 formation)

GK: David De Gea (Spain)
DF: Jerome Boateng (Germany), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Sergio Ramos (Spain)
MF: Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Sergej Malinkovic-Savic (Serbia), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Bernardo Silva (Portugal)
FW: Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Timo Werner (Germany), Raheem Sterling (England)


The goalkeeper is a consensus pick in Manchester United’s David de Gea, who has won countless awards in the Premier League over the last few seasons with the Red Devils and has been linked for years with a move to Manchester United. His exploits in Russia this summer, however, were far from the standards he has set for himself in England.

In defense, there are also a pair of consensus picks in Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi and Spain’s Gerard Pique. Otamendi was fabulous for Manchester City in their runaway title chase this past season, while Pique has been one of the best defenders in the world for years with Barcelona. Neither was up to their usual standards as both teams proved leaky at the back. Also appearing is Germany’s Mats Hummels and Joshua Kimmich, who both failed to meet expectations in a wildly disappointing group stage exit.

In the middle of the pitch, Javier Mascherano is a consensus pick, with the 31-year-old starting each and every game of the Argentina’s World Cup yet failing to cover the back line effectively at an advanced age. Jorge Sampaoli’s faith in him proved to be a big reason for Argentina’s early exit. Germany’s Sami Khedira suffered a similar fate, although at least Jogi Low had the sense to bench him quickly. Others appearing here include disappointing attackers Christian Eriksen, Mesut Ozil, and Alex Iwobi. Eriksen was consistently double-teamed with Denmark offering little else up front, and they were left unable to threaten opposing defenses with any regularity. Ozil has been criticized often over the years at Arsenal, and he failed to provide much for Germany in creativity. Iwobi is a youngster who had been pegged as a potential breakout star at the World Cup, but he failed to deliver and the African teams left much on the table. Even Antoine Griezmann, who some have labeled a potential Golden Ball candidate, makes an appearance as the Frenchman has often struggled with the final ball up front and he occasionally appears unable to operate on the same page as his teammates.

Finally, up front brings us consensus pick Robert Lewandowski, who yet again failed to come up clutch on the big stage. He has gone missing recently in big European games for Bayern Munich, and he was unable to engineer anything special at the head of the attack for 8th ranked team in the world. Brazil youngster Gabriel Jesus makes a pair of appearances, having disappointed mightily up front for Brazil playing the central striker role. There were louder and louder calls to start Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino in his place as the tournament went on, but those fell on deaf ears with manager Tite. Germany’s pair of Thomas Muller and Timo Werner represent other disappointments, with the hero of the 2014 World Cup final and the country’s young new talisman both putting forth forgettable performances. And finally, yes, Argentina superstar Lionel Messi makes the cut. While many claim his team weighed him down, there is no debating Messi’s tournament was one to forget. Altogether, the six strikers that appear here combined for just one goal in the entire tournament, from Messi.

Fernando Torres spurns MLS, signs to play in J1 League

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TOSU, Japan (AP) Former Liverpool, Chelsea and Spain striker Fernando Torres signed to play for Sagan Tosu in the J1 League on Tuesday, dashing the hopes of Australian football that he might become a marquee attraction for its struggling A-League.

The 34-year-old Torres held discussions with Football Federation Australia and officials of A-League glamor club Sydney FC, raising hopes he might add some star power to the A-League which has seen flagging attendances and TV ratings. Torres was also rumored to be joining the Chicago Fire, coached by former Atletico Madrid player Veljko Paunovic.

But the former Liverpool, Chelsea, and Atletico Madrid forward announced he will be joining former Spain teammate Andres Iniesta in Japan.

Torres was one of six players on a shortlist of possible marquee stars drawn up by the FFA two months ago, which also included Iniesta and Japan’s Keisuke Honda.

The A-League has a centralized $3 million fund to attract marquee players but hasn’t had a truly big name since Italy’s Alessandro Del Piero played for Sydney FC from 2012-14.

Luis Enrique named new Spain coach

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Spain have appointed Luis Enrique as their new head coach.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The deal was confirmed on Monday, just 24 hours after Fernando Hierro left his role as the interim head coach after Julen Lopetegui was fired on the eve of the 2018 World Cup for agreeing to take over as the new Real Madrid manager without informing the Spanish Football Association until the last minute.

Despite losing to hosts Russia on penalty kicks in the Round of 16 at the World Cup, that was Spain’s first defeat in their last 24 games.

Enrique has signed a two-year deal as Spain’s head coach, with the former Barcelona manager back in a job for the first time since the summer of 2017.

His three-year stay at Barca saw him win the treble in 2014-15 as the trio of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi ripped European soccer apart. He won back-to-back La Liga titles in his first two years in charge of Barcelona, winning 138 of his 181 games in charge of the Catalan giants.

Enrique enjoyed a glittering playing career, winning the La Liga title with both Real Madrid and Barcelona before going on to manager Roma, Celta Vigo and Barcelona.

The former Spanish international midfielder will be focused on leading Spain to glory in the 2020 European Championships.

Spain’s Hierro leaves federation after World Cup exit

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Fernando Hierro’s time running the Spanish national team is limited to the World Cup, and he will not be returning to his former position as sporting director.

Hierro stepped into the role on the eve of the tournament, when Spain fired Julen Lopetegui for his decision to accept the Real Madrid position without informing the federation.

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Spain beat Iran but drew Morocco and Portugal in group play, finishing first in Group B before losing to hosts Russia in penalty kicks at the Round of 16.

From the BBC:

A statement said the former Real Madrid player had “declined” to return to his previous role and has opted to “undertake new professional challenges.”

The storyline to follow will be whether the problems and vibes at the federation extend beyond its head-scratching decision to react viciously to Lopetegui’s move to Real.