The 2018 Russia World Cup was not the best one for Latin America. None of its eight representatives made it to the semifinal and barely two played the quarterfinals. Several elements had an impact on the fact that teams from the region were below expectations; however, we witnessed individual performances that are worth to be highlighted. What would be the Latin American soccer dream team in this event? PanamericanWorld suggests a lineup made up of players from four countries. Whom would you include or exclude?
GUILLERMO OCHOA (MEXICO)
Once again, the Tricolor team was defeated before the evasive fifth game, since it was taken out by Brazil in the round before quarterfinals. The Mexican fans built their hopes up after the win against Germany; nevertheless, the defeat against Sweden forced the game with the “Canarinha”, which put an end to the Aztecs’ dreams. Six goals were scored at the Mexican door and the number was not higher thanks to “Memo” Ochoa’s performance, who can be described as the most outstanding figure of the team after 25 saves.
YERRY MINA (COLOMBIA)
Nobody could imagine that a 195cm-tall center back would become Colombia’s scoring leader in the World Cup. Mina did not play for a long time with Barcelona, so there were doubts on his level in the Cup. The cleared all doubts… with his head. Mina scored three goals in decisive moments: he opened the game against Poland, gave the win against Senegal and the tie against England.
JOSE MARIA GIMENEZ (URUGUAY)
The Atlético de Madrid’s center back played a leading role in the strong defense developed by Uruguay, which only took three goals (the last one against France because of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera’s mistake). Moreover, Gimenez delivered the winning goal against Egypt.
DIEGO GODIN (URUGUAY)
The captain of the Uruguayan team stood out as the leader of a spectacular defensive line, cleared the center and won most of individual duels. He was defined as a “crack” by Diego Armando Maradona.
RODRIGO BETANCUR (URUGUAY)
Betancur had a great World Cup and “Maestro” Oscar Washington Tabares was always counting on this player from Juventus. He is not a spectacular player and does not score any goal, but he is always moving the ball in the right direction and provides balance to the team. This is way he is a key element.
Brazil missed Casemiro in the quarterfinal game, against Belgium. His yellow cards stopped the Real Madrid player from wearing the uniform, but he had already done enough in the four previous games, so he can be included in the Latin American dream team.
LUCAS TORREIRA (URUGUAY)
This midfielder was labeled as one of the revelations in the World Cup. That is why British Arsenal Club paid the 30 million euro termination clause to Sampdoria, in order to take him to the Premier League’s next season. Russia was amazed by the physical condition and soccer technique of Torreira.
PHILIPPE COUTINHO (BRAZIL)
Coutinho’s level was high, but he later went down in the Cup. He scored an impressive goal against Switzerland, one of the best shots in the World Cup; he later took Costa Rica’s hopes down by scoring in the 91st minute, and helped Paulinho open the scoreboard against Serbia. Sadly for the “Canarinha”, he did not show the same level in the last games, especially against Belgium.
EDINSON CAVANI (URUGUAY)
The “Canibal” did not begin the World Cup with his right foot. He missed his opportunities in the first two games of the group stage, but tensions disappeared against Russia. In quarterfinals, against Portugal, Cavani was the star of the blue team by scoring two great goals: the first one with a spectacular header, after receiving Luis Suarez’s ball, and the second one was a moving shot, so he proved to be one of the best strikers of the world. The Uruguayan people will always regret the lesions suffered by Cavani in that game. Perhaps history would have been different if he could have played against France, in quarterfinals.
NEYMAR JR. (BRAZIL)
Once again, Neymar played the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde role. He stood out on the field in lucidity moments with feints, good passes and two goals, one of which was decisive against Mexico; but his image became tainted by “dives” and arguments. It is even harder to fool referees in the VAR age, and this excellent player should already know that.
LUIS SUAREZ (URUGUAY)
The Uruguayan fans were hoping the Suarez – Cavani couple to score many goals. It actually did not happen; although both players showed their talent. Suarez missed a thousand shots against Egypt, but he later scored the winning goal against Saudi Arabia and Russia. His pass to Cavani, which became a header goal by “Canibal”, was one of the best assists in the World Cup; nonetheless, in quarterfinals, when he was on the field without his partner, Suarez could not do much against the French defense.