World Cup 2022: would England beat an all-star Premier League world XI?
The 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar are just around the corner, so why not have your own go at our ‘who would win’ dilemma?
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The Premier League season got off to an early start this year to accommodate for an extended winter break and make room for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals.
With the showpiece event just a few months away, England fans are not only getting a look at potential call-ups to Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions from their domestic top flight, but also plenty of the top stars from other nationalities.
Many of the very best players from European contenders, South American heavyweights and beyond play their domestic football in the Premier League and supporters are well aware of the threat they will pose when lining up against their national heroes.
With that in mind, we decided to have a bit of fun and asked the question “who would win?” - if you pitted England’s starting XI against an XI of Premier League players set to compete for other nations in Qatar.
There were only three very simple rules, imposed to make a challenge out of of picking an XI:
- Only one player per nationality
- Only one player per club
- No English players
Here is the team we have chosen...
GK - Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest/Wales)
Some of the best stoppers in the world represent Premier League clubs whether it’s France skipper Hugo Lloris or either of Brazil’s Ederson and Allison to name just a few.
There was no need to travel as far as South America to find a number one though with an experienced international and Premier League star in the sticks for England’s neighbours.
Hennessey, who moved from Burnley to Nottingham Forest this summer after seven top flight seasons at Crystal Palace, has won 109 caps for Wales.
His experience and reliability is an excellent foundation for the XI and his selection also ensures a wider pool of players from the ‘bigger’ clubs and nations to choose from.
Defence - Matty Cash (Aston Villa/Poland), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/The Netherlands), Fabian Schar (Newcastle/Switzerland), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea/Spain)
Aston Villa provided more viable options for our side than any other clubs outside of the traditional ‘big six, but we eventually landed on Cash who has been a real breakout star of the Premier League since his 2020 move from Nottingham Forest.
Since declaring his allegiance for Poland in 2021 he has earned seven caps so is relativley inexperienced on the international stage, but that is more than made up for by Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso at left back.
Although he has only earned a few caps more (nine) the 31-year old has been in and around the Spain squad since 2018 and his club career at Chelsea speaks for itself with a Premier League and a Champions League winners medal to his name.
Shoring up the defence is the centre back pairing of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar.
He might have had a shocker in their recent loss to Manchester United, but the towering Dutchman would still be most people’s go-to for any ‘Dream Team’.
As for Schar, the 71 capped Swiss star has a wealth of international experience and has had a very good start to the season with Eddie Howe’s Magpies, despite not always being viewed as a top level centre back.
Midfield - Christian Eriksen (Man Utd/Denmark), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City/Belgium), Ruben Neves (Wolves/Portugal)
I know what you’re thinking, it’s perhaps not the most balanced midfield three but with this level of creativity and skills who needs defensive midfielders?
Manchester City’s ace in the pack is another player who makes any ‘Dream Team’ in the world and the Premier League Champions’ city rivals have another creative maestro to call on in the Denmark skipper.
Having both in the same team provides a plethora of passing and shooting options from open play and set pieces.
For something a bit different we can call on one of Wolves’ Portuguese stars in Neves to cover more ground than the other two and keep the ball at his feet when needed rather than looking to off load it.
It’s certainly a dynamic trio of talented individuals and we reckon the right coach could get them all singing off the same hymn sheet.
Forwards - Son Heung-min (Spurs/South Korea), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal/Brazil), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham/Serbia)
An all-London front three and South Korea’s Son is definently the man we want to see on the ball more often as the most dynamic and pacy player from the trio.
That compliments two natural finishers well in Jesus and Mitrovic with the new Arsenal man a danger from any area of the box and the Fulham forward chosen to provide the opposition a serious threat from aerial duels and set plays as well as his natural finishing ability.
Any questions over balance in midfield couldn’t be directed at this front three, with three very different but very talented individuals to lead the line.
England vs World Cup XI - The Verdict
First of all, I think we can all agree how much we would love to see this team come together - right?
Our World Cup XI’s threat comes from the skill and technical ability in midfield as well as the variety of set piece options in both takers (De Bruyne or Eriksen) and targets (Van Dijk, Mitrovic, Jesus).
The England defense would certainly be in for a hard shift but Gareth Southgates boys could probably see themselves to victory, with good play on the break and getting the ball out to their speedy wide players like Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and more.
Without a recognised defensive midfielder to disrupt the play, it could leave the defense exposed.
That being said, our side more than makes up for what they lack defensively with their attacking options so we reckon a match between these two could go all the way to penalties after a thrilling 5-5 draw!