World Cup Rankings: Who Ranks No. 1 in Each Position? (Keepers & Defense)

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The World Cup is just about a week away and no one can contain their excitement for the biggest competition in football. The 32 nations that will be represented in Russia are gearing up for the festivities, decorating the streets with national colors, citizens scouting out the pubs that will be having specials, while chattering along about their team’s chances this year.

Friends will begin to preview each match after a drink, comparing their countries defense to their opponents and proving to their mates why Manuel Neuer is better than David de Gea or why Trent Alexander-Arnold should start over Kieran Trippier. But who is better than who? Here are our initial rankings for the best players in goal and in defense this summer.


david de gea.jpg

Many were awestruck by the heroics of Manuel Neuer in Brazil 2014, making acrobatic save after save look like a walk in the park. Although he is still the world’s best on any given day, Neuer’s injury woes this season has seen the rapid rise to dominance from David de Gea meaning Spain’s No. 1 will be King of the Keepers this summer.

There are an abundance of returning faces from both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Euros including French captain Hugo Lloris, Mexico’s hair icon Guillermo Ochoa and Belgium blocker Thibaut Courtois, but only two of those three have continued to perform at a high level.

Brazil’s manager Tite has a tough choice between Manchester City’s star keeper Ederson or Roma’s savior Alisson, but the former looks like he’ll get the nod for the tournament.

(Some of the keepers listed may not be starters)

  1. David de Gea (Spain)
  2. Manuel Neuer (Germany)
  3. Marc-André ter Stegen (Germany)
  4. Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
  5. Alisson Becker (Brazil)
  6. Ederson (Brazil)
  7. Hugo Lloris (France)
  8. Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
  9. Pepe Reina (Spain)
  10. Wojciech Szczesny (Poland)

Right-Backs/Right Wing-Backs


Joshua Kimmich and Dani Carvajal are sure fire picks for the No. 1 and 2 spot. The two are sensational for club and country leaving little doubt of their status as the best.

Gareth Southgate has recently elected to go with a back three with England, pushing Kyle Walker into a right-sided center half. This would allow Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold to get a chance at wing-back, the latter looking to overtake Trippier. But, we’ll judge Walker as a right-back for all intents and purposes, hoping to see Walker as a proper right wing-back.

  1. Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
  2. Dani Carvajal (Spain)
  3. Kyle Walker (England)
  4. Sime Vrsaljko (Croatia)
  5. Ricardo Pereira (Portugal)
  6. Trent Alexander-Arnold (England)
  7. Thomas Meunier (Belgium)
  8. Djibril Sidibe (France)
  9. Danilo (Brazil)
  10. Kieran Trippier (England)

Left-Backs/ Left Wing-Backs


Brazil have been blessed with some great left-backs over the years and Marcelo is just the latest of the full-back crown jewel. They also have two separately and almost equally as talent left-backs in Felipe Luis and Alex Sandro, the second of which was not even chosen to board the plane to Russia.

France are in the same boat, with both Benjamin Mendy starting and Lucas Hernández as cover. But, if Mendy can’t show the best version of himself, Hernández could relish as a starter full time.

Danny Rose is low risk, high reward right now and affords another starting spot after a rough year struggling with injury. Seeing the best of Danny Rose though could shoot him up to a spot right next to Marcelo and Alba, but for now if quite low on the totem pole.

  1. Marcelo (Brazil)
  2. Jordi Alba (Spain)
  3. Felipe Luis (Brazil)
  4. Benjamin Mendy (France)
  5. Lucas Hernández (France)
  6. Aleksander Kolarov (Serbia)
  7. Danny Rose (England)
  8. Raphael Guerreiro (Portugal)
  9. Ashley Young (England)
  10. Jonas Hector (Germany)

Center Backs

ramos pique.jpg

There is no denying the dominance of Sergio Ramos. He holds 3 consecutive Champions League titles and has done it with a villainous ora. Either way, he has made the art of defending, for lack of a better word, sexy.

His compatriot Gerard Pique has seen a dip in form, while Pique’s Barcelona teammate Samuel Umtiti has blossomed into an incredible force at the back.

Belgium come to the World Cup with three incredibly-gifted center halves in Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany, with Alderweireld ready to show the world his best after a rough campaign out with a hamstring injury.

Germany continue to field Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, with even stronger reserves this time out in Niklas Süle and Antonio Rüdiger. Some of the sleeper countries also have impressive rocks at the back like Morocco’s Medhi Benatia and Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

  1. Sergio Ramos (Spain)
  2. Mats Hummels (Germany)
  3. Diego Godín (Uruguay)
  4. Samuel Umtiti (France)
  5. Jérôme Boateng (Germany)
  6. Gerard Piqué (Spain)
  7. Raphaël Varane (France)
  8. Toby Alderweireld (Belgium)
  9. Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)
  10. Medhi Benatia (Morocco)
  11. César Azpilicueta (Spain)
  12. Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)
  13. Marquinhos (Brazil)
  14. Niklas Süle (Germany)
  15. Pepe (Portugal)

That wraps up our goalkeeper and defense picks. Tomorrow we’ll post our picks for Midfielders and Attackers, so keep an eye out. We’ll also be starting up our power rankings after the first round of matches in the Group Stage.

We are just 9 day away from the start from the World Cup! Stay up to date with it all on The Unfit Pundit.



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