World Cup 2018: Strongest European XI
A number of talented European footballers won't be catching the plane to Russia. But, in no way does that mean the continent is short on incredibly talented players who will participate in the competition.
Europe has, is and always will be, the continent that boasts the maximum number of countries participating in the FIFA World Cup. The 2018 World Cup will witness 14 European nations contesting for the most coveted trophy in the sport.
In spite of Italy and the Netherlands missing out, there are a plethora of options from which one can draw up a robust starting XI. Mind you, selecting a starting lineup is a very painful task and no mean feat, thanks to the rich footballing talent that Europe offers.
Yet, here's a small endeavor to create the best combination of 11 footballers from an overabundance of European options available.
Goalkeeper: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen
When it comes to the man between the posts, there are a plethora of options to consider before making a worthy selection. David De Gea, Manuel Neuer, Thibaut Courtois; all these men have done well enough to be considered among the best shot-stoppers currently active in Europe.
With Manuel Neuer battling injury for a large part of the season, it's Marc Andre Ter-Stegen who is best suited for the job. Germany's second-choice goalkeeper might come as a surprise for many, but he has done things that are worth being rewarded.
With 19 clean sheets in La Liga and 5 in the Champions League, Ter Stegen finished as the second-best goalkeeper in both the competitions. Yet, it's not just the clean sheets that he has been selected for.
Taking into account the league performances of De Gea, Neuer and Courtois, the German has bettered all his rivals. He has the highest clean sheet average (0.55), highest saves per goal ratio (4.11), highest distribution accuracy (83%) and the lowest goal conceded ratio (0.58).
A bonus is his pass success rate - 76.9% in both the league and the Champions League.