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Pulse List 2018: The best European XI of the year

<p class="">In this End of Year List piece, Pulse writes on the best European XI of the year, 2018. </p>

<p class="">Europe is the home of football. The continent has led all the technical and tactical advancement and evolution the game has seen in history. </p>

<p class="">Indeed, this has helped with the successes of their leagues and the national teams-the continent has won more World Cup tournaments than others. </p>

<p class="">In this End of Year List piece, Pulse writes on the best European XI of the year, 2018. </p>

<h1>Goalkeeper </h1>

<p class=""><strong>Jan Oblak (Slovenian/Atletico Madrid) </strong></p>

<p class="">While Atletico Madrid have failed to live up to their name in recent times, their goalkeeper Jan Oblak has continued to impress. </p>

<p class="">The Slovenian makes this list due to his performance in <strong>La Liga</strong> last season when he won La Liga’s <strong>Zamora trophy</strong> (award for the Best Goalkeeper in Spain). He also made last season’s <strong>Europa League </strong>Squad of the Season after helping his team to the trophy. </p>

<p class="">Oblak makes this team despite not playing at the <strong>2018 FIFA World Cup</strong>. In 2018, he is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. For us at Pulse, he is. </p>

<h1>Defenders</h1>

<p class=""><strong>Thomas Meunier (Belgium/Paris Saint-Germain)</strong></p>

<p class="">Thomas Meunier found himself to be the first-choice right back at Paris Saint-Germain last season and seized the opportunity to prove that he is one of the best in world football. </p>

<p class="">In the 2017/2018 season, he was in top form for Paris Saint-Germain who won every trophy available in France. The Belgian continued his impressive stint at the 2018 World Cup where he helped Belgian to a third-place finish. He scored a goal and assisted two in five appearances in Russia.</p>

<p class=""><strong>Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands/Liverpool) </strong></p>

<p class="">In January, Virgil van Dijk became the most expensive defender in the history of football after Liverpool splashed £75m and he has been near-perfect since then. </p>

<p class="">He had an instant impact in the Liverpool’s brittle defence that had impeded their progress. With Van Dijk marshalling the defence, Liverpool got the final of the <strong>Champions League </strong>last season. This season, Liverpool are the only unbeaten side in the <strong>Premier League</strong> and have conceded the least goals also in England. </p>

<p class="">Van Dijk’s huge influence in defence has not been for Liverpool alone, after missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup with the Netherlands, he has been the spine of the Oranje Boys who are making huge progress under new manager <strong>Ronald Koeman</strong>. With Van Dijk as captain, Netherlands finished above two last World Cup champions in Germany and France to progress in the <strong>UEFA Nations League</strong>. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Raphael Varane (France/Real Madrid)</strong></p>

<p class="">Raphael Varane had a good year with two big trophies. Varene was an important member of the Real Madrid team that won the Champions League for the third consecutive time and also impressed for France in the summer in Russia to help them win the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He was included in the <strong>2018 FIFA FIFPRO World XI</strong>. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Jordi Alba (Spain/Barcelona) </strong></p>

<p class="">Jordi Alba can make a claim to be the best Barcelona player in 2018 after <strong>Lionel Messi</strong>. The Spaniard has been imperious in 2018 and keeps getting better.</p>

<p class="">He improved remarkably under <strong>Ernesto Valverde</strong> who has fully maximised the full-back’s pace and trickery down the left. Despite an average 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign with Spain, he managed to get his hands on the La Liga title in 2018 with Barcelona. </p>

<h1>Midfielders</h1>

<p class=""><strong>N’Golo Kante (France/Chelsea)</strong></p>

<p class="">The story of N’Golo Kante’s meteoric rise in football has been well told and in 2018 he conquered more sphere. After an average season with Chelsea, Kante was one of the stars of the France team that won the 2018 FIFA World Cup. </p>

<p class="">The ingeniousness of his inconspicuous duties for the team was well heralded by everyone from his teammates to everyone in world football. Outside the pitch, he warmed even more heart with his self-effacing demeanour. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Luka Modric (Croatia/Real Madrid) </strong></p>

<p class="">Public opinion has it that Luka Modric’s ability had not been genuinely heralded but in 2018, it was hard to keep the compliments away. After helping Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League title and Croatia’s run to the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Modric finally got his accolades. </p>

<p class="">He broke the <strong>Lionel Messi</strong> and <strong>Cristiano Ronaldo</strong> duopoly on the biggest individual prizes in world football and was named <strong>World Footballer of the Year </strong>at <strong>FIFA Best Awards</strong> and got the <strong>Ballon d’Or</strong>. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City) </strong></p>

<p class="">Kevin de Bruyne was the force behind Manchester City’s historic Premier League title win, providing 16 assists to win the league’s playmaker crown. </p>

<p class="">At the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, he was impressive again with two assists and a goal- which he scored in their crucial 2-1 win over Brazil in the quarterfinals. </p>

<h1>Forwards</h1>

<p class=""><strong>Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid/Juventus) </strong></p>

<p class="">Cristiano Ronaldo continues to be one of the best players in world football and not just Europe. In 2018, he was massive again for Real Madrid and Portugal. </p>

<p class="">He scored 15 Champions League goals to continue his record of having the most goals in the competition’s history and also led Real Madrid to a third consecutive title. </p>

<p class="">He played his part for Portugal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup scoring four goals including a hattrick against Spain in a Group Stage game. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Kylian Mbappe (France/Paris Saint-Germain)</strong></p>

<p class="">French whiz-kid <strong>Kylian Mbappe</strong> showed the whole world what he is truly capable off at the 2018 FIFA World Cup where he proved to be the distinction for France who went on to win the title. </p>

<p class="">He really came alive in the round of 16 win over Argentina where he ripped the defence with his terrific pace. He caused a penalty in that game and scored an impressive brace to set France on their way to the title. He finished the tournament with four goals and was voted <strong>FIFA’s Young Player</strong> of the Tournament. </p>

<p class="">Before the summer, he was one of Paris Saint-Germain’s key men that swept the whole domestic titles in France. </p>

<p class="">He ended the year <strong>with Kopa Trophy</strong>- the award as the Bet under-21 Player in the World at the 2018 Ballon d’Or gala. </p>

<p class=""><strong>Antoine Griezmann (France/Atletico Madrid) </strong></p>

<p class="">Antoine Griezmann continues to make a case for the big individual awards for best player in the world and although it is still not convincing enough, he has earned the right to. </p>

<p class="">In 2018, he led Atletico Madrid to the Europa League title, scoring six goals in the process. He was named the Europa League Player of the Season following his decisive goals in the semifinals against Arsenal and his brace in the final against <strong>Marseille</strong>. </p>

<p class="">It got better in the summer as his four goals and two assists helped France to the 2018 FIFA World Cup title. </p>
Source: Pulse Sports

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