MEN’S TOURNAMENT TEAM
GK: Santos, Brazil. Brazil’s defense has been spectacular throughout the tournament, and you’ll see it in this Best XI. At the center of it was goalkeeper Santos, whose veteran leadership was fully demonstrated at several points in the knockout stage, including Brazil’s victory on penalties over Mexico in the semi-finals.
LB: Guilherme Arana, Brazil. Brazil played 600 minutes of football at the Olympics. Arana was involved in 599 of them. While his reliability isn’t reason enough to earn a spot in the Best XI, his influence on how Brazil plays in attack is. Arana was comfortable and calm defensively, but when Brazil was in possession he raced in the middle and final thirds, giving Richarlison the freedom to move to the center.
CB: Pau Torres, Spain. This Spanish team had many rising stars, but Pau may be the choice of the peloton. He was fantastic at the center of the Spanish defense from day one until the final whistle of the gold medal game, and although it is silver for Villarreal center-back, he has (still) showed the world why the European giants demanded his signature.
CB: Maya Yoshida, Japan. From rising star to seasoned veteran, Yoshida, 32, has stepped back in time and delivered a fantastic performance to the hosts in defense. Before the bronze medal game against Mexico, Japan had conceded just two goals in five matches and Yoshida played every minute. Yoshida’s central partner Takehiro Tomiyasu is catching the attention of some of Europe’s top clubs, but it was the one wearing the captain’s armband who led the defense.
RB: Dani Alves, Brazil. Alves is the most decorated player in the history of the sport, and he just added another trophy to his trophy cabinet (his 44th!). He was everywhere for Brazil. Alves created chances, tackled, fouled and even scored a sublime penalty in the semi-final shootout against Mexico. In a tournament intended for the U-23, it is Dani Alves, 38, who receives the cries of the Player of the Tournament. What a world.