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13 Jul 2018

World Cup 2018: The team of the semi-finals

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Goalkeeper

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Defence

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Midfield

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Attack

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The Final Team

REUTERS/Darren Staples

With the stage now set for the World Cup Final, we look back at the standout performers from the round of the last four. 

France will feature in their third final after narrowly beating Belgium 1-0, and they'll face Croatia who beat England in extra time to reach their first showpiece. 

Didier Deschamps' side will have had an extra days' rest over their opponents come the final on Sunday, but as the Croatian's showed on Wednesday night, fatigue may not be an issue.

Belgium and England will meet for the second time this tournament in the third-place play-off on Saturday, but which players from the semi-finals made up our best XI...? 

Goalkeeper

Hugo Lloris (France)

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

The French goalkeeper has had a steady, consistent tournament - much like his teammates. 

Lloris claimed his fourth clean sheet in six games in Russia as France appear to have timed their run to the final perfectly. 

The Belgians had nine shots in total in Tuesday night's game and, although only three hit the target, Lloris commanded his area and organised his defence to great effect. A smart stop from a fierce Toby Alderweireld effort with the scores still at 0-0 gave his side the shift in momentum they needed. 

Defence

Kieran Trippier (England) - RB

REUTERS/Maxim ShemetovThe England wing-back has had a breakout tournament. 

Regularly one of his side's best performers, Kieran Trippier capped an incredible campaign with a free-kick of the highest order. After Luka Modric was penalised for a push, the ball was set perfectly for the likes of Trippier or Ashley Young to hit. 

Trippier's effort flew into the top corner, giving his side the lead inside five minutes. Although he and his England side were dumped from the competition at the final hurdle, Trippier will take a lot from his performances in Russia, especially in Moscow on Wednesday. 

Samuel Umtiti (France) - CB 

REUTERS/Lee Smith

The French centre-half has formed a formidable partnership with Raphael Varane at the heart of the defence. Les Bleus have performed consistently at the back so far and Umtiti played a vital part in getting his side in their third final.

Umtiti scored the only goal of the game when he found space in the Belgium penalty area and rose highest to head home an Antoine Griezmann corner. 

Dejan Lovren (Croatia) - CB

REUTERS/Carl Recine

The Liverpool man has done his job at this tournament. With Lovren playing alongside Domagoj Vida, the Croatians haven't been the most resolute on their journey. They handled Wednesday's semi-final with relative comfort, though.

Lovren won seven of his aerial duels and completed 88% of his passes, regularly finding Luka Modric and Marcelo Brozovic in midfield. England's attack was frustrated by the Croatian defence and Lovren played a part in keeping Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling quiet. 

Lucas Hernandez (France) - LB

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

The Atletico Madrid youngster's World Cup has been impressive. His performances have kept Benjamin Mendy watching from the sidelines, and Hernandez has played a part at both ends of the pitch.

The French defence faced their sternest test of the tournament, especially from the wider areas. Kevin De Bruyne was placed on the right-hand side of the Belgian midfield, and Hernandez did well to keep the playmaker at bay.

Midfield

Marcelo Brozovic (Croatia) - DM

REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Marcelo Brozovic's place in the Croatian midfield is the key to the Balkan nation's success. With the Inter Milan holding midfielder involved, the more attack-minded players in Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic can play in more advanced positions and create chances. 

Brozovic patrolled his back four to great effect on Wednesday, limiting the movement and freedom of Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli.

Paul Pogba (France) - DM

REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Paul Pogba has had a relatively modest World Cup campaign in an attacking sense, but with the level of talent around him going forward, it's no wonder why.

Like he has done for Manchester United in the Premier League, Pogba has been tasked with playing a deeper role in the French midfield, though limited Marouane Fellaini and Moussa Dembele from making tracks through the middle of the park. 

Pogba won three tackles, won three aerial duels and completed 90% of his passes and was never dispossessed. 

Eden Hazard (Belgium) - AM

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

While his Belgium side were defeated by the French, Eden Hazard was the standout player for the Red Devils. 

Dropping deeper than usual to collect the ball and to create opportunities, Hazard completed 11 dribbles and was a thorn in the side of French right back, Benjamin Pavard. Hazard was carrying the fight with 96% of his passes finding their target, with two shots on goal.

Ivan Perisic (Croatia) - AM

REUTERS/Darren Staples

Ivan Perisic took a while to grow into the game on Wednesday, but once Croatia began to dictate play in the second half, the Inter Milan winger was a headache for the English defence. 

Perisic fired seven shots on the English goal and brought his side level when he met a Sime Vrsaljko cross midway through the second half. Minutes later, Perisic hit the post, his left-footed shot inches from putting Croatia in front. In extra-time, his flicked header played in Mario Mandzukic who scored to put the Croats into the final.

Attack

Kylian Mbappe (France) - CF

REUTERS/Lee Smith

The 19-year-old is enjoying his time in Russia. Having scored twice in the win over Argentina, the Paris Saint-Germain forward will be a contender for the tournaments' Golden Ball award. 

Mbappe's pace has frightened defenders, with no opposition yet able to keep him quiet. The French attacker completed seven dribbles against Belgium, constantly looking to cause damage every time he glided forward. 

Mario Mandzukic (Croatia) - CF

REUTERS/Carl Recine

The Croatia veteran stole the headlines on Wednesday evening when his extra time finish sent his team through to the World Cup Final.

Mandzukic gave the England defence a problem for most of the game and had the mental and physical stamina to pounce in the final ten minutes. The Juventus forward had only three shots on goal but showed his quality and composure when it mattered most. 

The Final Team

Who are we missing? Let us know by commenting below.