I Picked A World Cup Squad Of Video Game Characters

The World Cup squads have been announced, and this very strange tournament is almost underway. The World Cup is the biggest event in the football calendar, but the mid-season break enforced by this one, not to mention hosting it in Qatar rather than Australia because of rampant corruption, means it's a little difficult to get excited. Still, it's the World Cup. No matter what FIFA does, the tournament cannot be taken away from us, the people. Or rather, us the gamers. Here's my Video Game XI that would definitely probably maybe win the World Cup.

The World Cup is serious business, so let's set some ground rules. First off, we're playing four four fucking two, unless I get stuck and end up rewriting this intro to adapt it to a more modern formation. In which case, these words have been deleted, so I can say what I want. Need me to prove it? Penis! See? Anyway, more rules. Any sports titles, like FIFA 23, have been disqualified, but sporting characters in other games are fair game, as you'll see below. Final rule: only one player per series. With that in mind, let's kick off.

Goalkeeper – Machamp, Pokemon

I could have been a proper Pokemon hipster here and opted for Barbaracle, but the basic gist is that goalkeepers use their hands, so you need someone with lots of hands. Machamp gets the edge mainly because I knew other people had heard of it, but also because he seems like he's got a cocky, shouty, 'get stuck into them lads!' Joe Hart thing going on.

Right Back – Ivy Valentine, SoulCalibur

England might have an embarrassment of riches here, but I didn't. I opted for Ivy Valentine from the SoulCalibur series, because she can whip it in from out wide. I'm not going to vamp here any more, I picked a character with a whip and that's it. If Trent only has one thing in his locker as a right back, why should I try harder?

Centre Back – Kratos, God of War

Every striker's worst nightmare. Kratos is a colossal presence, shoving forward off the ball, commanding the back line, and winning everything in the air, which is even more impressive when you consider Kratos can't jump. He's a man of few words, but he wears the armband because he leads by example.

Centre Back – Master Chief, Halo

Xbox and PlayStation, together at last. If Kratos is the Vidic, Master Chief is the Ferdinand. Still a big lad with power in the air, but a little more graceful and fluid, less of a street fighter and more of a prize fighter. Would that comparison have worked better with characters from Street Fighter and Punch-Out? Eh, maybe, but it would have felt odd to pick a video game best eleven and leave the two console top dogs out. A little like Southgate and Maguire, I gotta stay loyal to the homies. Sorry, Ryu. Sorry, guy from Punch-Out. Sorry, Tomori.

Left Back – Kaidan Alenko, Mass Effect

Because he always gets left back on Virmire.

Right Wing – Rufus Shinra, Final Fantasy 7

Get it? Because I mean right wing in the political sense, not in the football sense! Oh, how humorous.

Defensive Mid – Heihachi Mishima, Tekken

The holding player in a 442 is a throwback of a player, and needs to be an intense enforcer. This is the Roy Keane role, the Patrick Vieira role. We don't have many out and out enforcers playing in the Premier League these days. Kante is too graceful and light-footed, Rodri has too much guile and trickery. Casemiro and Xhaka are the two classics of the league, though Xhaka especially is a long way off Vieira. Anyway, Heihachi. He's a hard nut, basically.

Attacking Mid – Bayonetta, Bayonetta

While the holding position is evolving a little and going out of style, the number 10 playmaker role is still alive and well. Kevin de Bryune, currently top of the world in this position, shares some surprising similarities with Bayonetta. Both move swiftly and with style and flair, both can seemingly conjure beings out of thin air (either by a demonic dance or lofted pass to a run nobody had spotted), and both will rip your heart out if you let your guard down around them. Now we just need KdB to turn out in an all ginger fursuit.

Left Wing – Princess Daisy, Super Mario

Look, I'm not going to make the same joke twice. Rather than any stunningly clever political justification, Daisy is here because of her performance in the most recent Mario Strikers game. Though she turned up late (left wingers are mavericks), she soon started running rings around her opponents, even throwing in a rabona. She won't track back but she's glorious to watch when moving at pace.

Striker – Sonic, Sonic

Since football was invented, one rule has always held true. If your forward is fast, you've got a chance. Oh, Obafemi Martins. How many times did I see you tear through on goal only to let me down at the end of it? If only you'd been a little blue teenage hedgehog instead.

Striker – Kirby, Kirby

This is a tactical masterclass at play. Sonic might be a speedster, but drop deep and you can kill off most of this team's threat. The right wing spot is taken up by a clever political pun rather than an actual player. But with Kirby, he can suck up all of the play, drawing defenders in, then fire the ball through for Sonic to latch onto. We play four four fucking two.

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