Picking the Strongest XI of Players From South America Who Have Qualified for the 2018 World Cup

Five South American nations will be represented at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, and Peru learned their fates last Friday as the groups were drawn for next year's competition. Here are some of the best that South America has to offer in a starting XI of the best players we will see in Russia next year... Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer Lionel Messi was the hero once again for his team when his hat trick against Ecuador sent Argentina to the World...

Forward: Lionel Messi - Argentina

Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer Lionel Messi was the hero once again for his team when his hat trick against Ecuador sent Argentina to the World Cup.

Runners-up in the competition in 2014, Messi will lead his country, maybe for the final time in this competition, and try and earn one of the few trophies which has eluded him in his illustrious career.

If he can finally win the biggest football competition of them all, few will disagree that Lionel Messi would be the greatest player of all time.

Forward: Luis Suárez - Uruguay

There is simply too much attacking talent in South America to fit into one starting eleven. Honourable mentions go to Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi, Sergio Aguero, and Gabriel Jesus, but the ever prolific Luis Suarez makes this team.

With 49 goals in 95 appearances for Uruguay, Suarez's is his nation's all-time leading goalscorer. 

At club level, Suarez has forged a formidable partnership with Lionel Messi at Barcelona which has seen the Uruguayan score 91 goals in 108 La Liga games.

Forward: Neymar - Brazil

The most expensive player in the world, Neymar will be the star man for Brazil in Russia. 

The Paris Saint-Germain forward made his debut for Brazil in 2010 aged just 18. It did not take him long to make his mark and Neymar scored in his first game for Brazil. 

He has since gone on to score 53 goals in 83 games for his country. 

Midfielder: James Rodriguez - Colombia

Colombia's James Rodriguez certainly made a name for himself in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. James earned the Golden Boot, the goal of the tournament, and was selected in the team of the tournament for his stellar performances in that year's competition. 

His efforts helped Colombia reach its first ever World Cup quarter finals.

His tournament success earned him a big money move to Real Madrid. Now playing at Bayern Munich, James will be aiming for another successful tournament in Russia.

Midfielder: Casemiro - Brazil

Adding a bit of steel to this midfield is Real Madrid's Casemiro. The defensive midfielder has had a decent career at Real Madrid to say the least. In his three seasons at the Spanish club he has earned three Champions League titles and one La Liga title. 

At the age of 19 Casemiro made his debut for Brazil. Now with 20 caps under his belt, a World Cup winners' medal to add to his collection by age 26 would not be bad indeed.

Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho - Brazil

It could be a big tournament for Liverpool's talisman Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has been a vital player for the Reds over recent seasons where he has scored 38 league goals. 

He could prove to be just as important for Brazil. In March, he scored one of the goals which ensured his nation's qualification to the World Cup. Coutinho has earned 32 caps for Brazil and has scored eight goals.

Defender: Marcelo - Brazil

Marcelo has consistently achieved at the highest level. The Brazilian left-back has been a regular for Real Madrid for a decade now and in that time he has won four La Liga titles, and three Champions League winners medals.

Marcelo has 50 caps for Brazil, and while no World Cup success has come yet, he has one Confederations Cup winners medal from 2013. 

Defender: Nicolas Otamendi - Argentina

Otamendi has been an Argentine international since 2009. At the time of his debut, he was only 21 and had only played in 11 professional matches. 

He has since represented his country at one World Cup and two Copa Americas, where he helped Argentina to two consecutive runner-up finishes.

Otamendi is now part of a formidable Manchester City side which has gone unbeaten all season.

Defender: Diego Godin - Uruguay

The ever reliable Diego Godin will captain Uruguay to their 13th World Cup. Godin now has over 100 caps for his country. He has won one trophy in that time, which was the 2011 Copa America. 

He has also been a leader for his club. At Atletico Madrid, Godin has earned one La Liga title, a Europa League title, and has appeared at two Champions League finals.

Defender: Dani Alves - Brazil

At the age of 34, Dani Alves does not look like he is slowing down anytime soon. A serial winner at Barcelona, Alves earned six La Liga and three Champions League titles in his time at the Catalan Club. 

He has since gone on to find success at Juventus and now at Paris Saint-Germain. 

While he has one Copa America win with Brazil under his belt and over 100 caps, a winners medal at the biggest competition of them all would complete an already magnificent career. 

Goalkeeper: Ederson - Brazil

Ederson only made his international debut for Brazil in October of this year, but quickly the 24-year-old is proving to be one of the brightest young goalkeepers in the world. 

He has only recently made a name for himself as the first choice shot-stopper in Pep Guardiola's rampant Manchester City side. In 15 league games this season, Ederson has kept six clean sheets. 

His next ambition will be to prove himself on the international stage in Russia next year. 

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