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World Cup: Best La Liga XI heading to Qatar

Home to El Clasico giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, La Liga is one of the most attractive leagues in the world and a number of its biggest hitters are set to jet off to Qatar this winter.

Spain are expected to go well at this year's World Cup after fine performances at Euro 2020 and the last Nations League finals and many of La Roja's best players ply their trade in La Liga, along with top talents from the likes of Brazil, France and Argentina.

Selected in a 4-4-2 formation, here is our view on the best XI of La Liga players heading to Qatar for this year's winter World Cup.

WhatWorld Cup
WhereQatar
When20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watchAll matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV
OddsBrazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Argentina 7/1, Spain 8/1

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid and Belgium)

Belgium goalkeeper Courtois will head to Qatar this winter bidding to become the first player to retain the Golden Glove after winning the award in Russia in 2018, when his country finished third.

There is no finer shot-stopper in La Liga right now and last season was one to remember for Courtois, who won his first Champions League since joining from Chelsea.

He has also helped Real Madrid to two La Liga titles since moving to the Santiago Bernabeu and is a reliable figure between the sticks for club and country.

Right-back: Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid and Argentina)

Having only joined Udinese on a free transfer back in September 2020, flying full-back Molina did not take long to earn a move to one of Europe's biggest clubs, joining Atletico Madrid for €10million in July this year.

Molina also made his Argentina debut only last year but played a key part in the nation's 2021 Copa America success - their first major trophy in 28 years.

He is yet to fully win over the Atletico Madrid fanbase but he is a regular for Lionel Scaloni's Argentina and his great link-up play and gut-busting runs earn him a spot in La Liga's best XI.

Centre-back: Pau Torres (Villarreal and Spain)

Villarreal defender Torres was not given his first international cap until 2019 but is now an established member of Luis Enrique's Spain side, having been an integral part of La Roja when they made the semi-finals at Euro 2020 and the final of the last Uefa Nations League.

Although not the best in the air, Torres is quick for a defender, offers decent positional sense and is comfortable on the ball which is key in a team intent on dominating possession.

Centre-back: Eder Militao (Real Madrid and Brazil)

In his first two seasons at Real Madrid, complete centre-back Militao was on the fringes of the first team but last term Carlo Ancelotti put his faith in the Brazilian, who racked up 50 appearances in all competitions.

He formed a telepathic relationship with David Alaba in Madrid's defence and helped Los Blancos win both La Liga and the Champions League.

A lot is expected of Brazil in Qatar - they are 9/2 to lift the trophy - and Militao could be the defensive bedrock of the team for years to come.

Left-back: Jordi Alba (Barcelona and Spain)

Options in this position are few and far between in La Liga. Nicolas Tagliafico typically keeps Sevilla's Marcos Acuna out of the Argentina starting lineup, while there is uncertainty around how many minutes Marcos Alonso and Jose Gaya may get for Spain at the Qatar World Cup.

Veteran Alba, however, is Spain's vice-captain and is almost certain to be involved.

He may not offer the same pace he once did and he is not a nailed-on starter at Barcelona but Alba, who has won five La Ligas, the Champions League and Euro 2012, brings experience to the party and is a reliable option at left-back.

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Central midfield: Pedri (Barcelona and Spain)

Recipient of the Best Young Player award at Euro 2020, Pedri is one of the most exciting talents in world football.

The 19-year-old, who joined Barcelona from Las Palmas back in 2020, ran the show for Spain in the last European Championship and is a midfield engine who has the finesse and technical ability to match.

An archetypal Spanish midfielder, Pedri will be crucial to the possession-focused style of football Enrique wants his team to play and is one of the first names on the team sheet.

Central midfield: Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid and France)

N'Golo Kante was the heartbeat of the France team which won the World Cup in Russia four years ago but the Chelsea man is arguably not the player he once was and Les Bleus need someone else to take up that key role given the fitness concerns surrounding Kante ahead of Qatar.

Step forward Tchouameni.

The powerhouse midfielder showed his class at both ends of the field for Monaco last season and commanded an €80million price tag in the summer.

That raised some eyebrows but he has slotted in seamlessly at Real Madrid, acting as a replacement for Manchester United-bound Casemiro and linking up well with Luka Modric.

France have plenty of flair going forwards but the industrious style of Tchouameni will be as crucial if they are to go far in Qatar.

Right midfielder: Federico Valverde (Real Madrid and Uruguay)

When Uruguayan ace Valverde broke into Real Madrid's first team, he was initially known as a gritty, hard-working defensive midfielder but the club's lack of consistent options on the right flank have seen him deployed there more often than not recently.

And as a result, Valverde has shown a different side to his game, demonstrating an eye for goal - he started the La Liga season with three goals in six games - and a penchant for creating chances.

Few work harder than Valverde, who is considered a potential future captain for Real Madrid and he will be an instrumental player in a power-packed midfield for Uruguay, who are 2/1 to win Group H and 50/1 to lift the trophy.

Left midfielder: Vinicus Junior (Real Madrid and Brazil)

Neymar is still the poster boy for Brazil heading into the Qatar World Cup but Real Madrid ace Vinicius Junior could be in for a special tournament for the Selecao.

Like a number of players in this team, Vinicius was an integral player of the Real team who won La Liga and the Champions League in 2021-22, firing 22 goals in 52 matches in all competitions.

His pace, dribbling, eye for a pass and finishing are sublime and he is a player many may struggle to take their eyes off in Qatar this winter.

Striker: Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona and Poland)

Many questioned superstar forward Lewandowski when he made the decision to leave Bayern Munich for Barcelona in the summer but the prolific Pole is already proving the doubters wrong.

Lewandowski netted eight times in his first six La Liga appearances for Barca, maintaining his reputation as one of the best out-and-out strikers in the sport.

For Poland he has failed to make as much of an impact with the Eagles having not made it beyond the group stage of a World Cup since 1986.

But when there's Lewandowski, there's hope and he could walk into the starting XI of any country playing in Qatar.

Striker: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid and France)

Benzema endured a six-year exile from the French national team after 2015 but last year manager Didier Deschamps decided he could not ignore the form of Real Madrid's star marksman.

France were underwhelming at Euro 2020 but Benzema still managed nine goals in 13 appearances for his country last year and he hit another level in the Champions League last season, finishing as top scorer with 15 goals as Real Madrid lifted the trophy.

He is simply one of the best and most consistent forwards in world football and getting him fit and firing will be key to the title chances of defending world champions France, who are 6/1 to win the World Cup.

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