Team of the World Cup 🏆
Team of the Tournament: 2022 FIFA World Cup
The football world can agree the 2022 edition of the World Cup is right up there with the very best, and the final between France and Argentina stands alone. Qatar gave us more upsets than we had ever seen, especially in the group stage, African and Arab countries having decent outings, a new record number of goals (172), and the crowning moment for one little man from Rosario.
Here are is our Team of the Tournament, and we’ve decided to go with a 4-3-3 set-up.
Emiliano Martínez (Argentina)
Emi Martinez is one of those footballers you hate if he plays for the opposition but would love to have on your team because he has the gift of getting into the heads of opponents. Somewhere in France, Sergio Ramos is smiling like a proud dad. His antics during penalties are effective in destabilizing the taker and filling him with self-doubt as he showed multiple times, while his clutch saves – the one against Australia in the Round of 16 and most notably the one against France to deny Kolo Muani a late winner with seconds left on the clock – are exactly what you want from a goalkeeper. In an alternate universe where two goalkeepers are allowed to start, Croatia’s Dominik Livaković would also be in the team, but we’re on earth where only one goalie is allowed to be fielded.
Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
On the surface, Hakimi fits the modern day fullback who is excellent in attack but just a little bit more than ordinary in defense. That’s far from the truth, and he did a great job in proving he was more than that. Hakimi led the tournament in tackles won (17) and did a great job in keeping his good friend, Kylian Mbappé under control when they met in the semis despite losing. Though he had one assist, it was his defense that stood out in their hitsoric run, as the Moroccans conceded just once in their first five games. Also, he did hit one of the coldest Panenka in World Cup history, and the Penguin celebration that followed was equally icy.
Joško Gvardiol (Croatia)
Gvardiol and his agent are going to be extremely rich very soon. The 20-year-old was clearly the most impressive center-back in this tournament as he partnered with the more experienced Dejan Lovren. Yes, he did get spun around by Lionel Messi in the semi-final in the lead up to the assist for Julián Álvarez, but greater men have tried to stop Messi and failed. There is absolutely no shame in getting dribbled by the greatest player the world has ever seen. It did feel right that the RB Leipzig man got the winning goal in the Third-Place win over Morocco; a fitting end to a wonderful tournament.
Raphaël Varane (France)
This might seem a bit controversial, but Gvardiol is the only center-back who, without a shadow of a doubt, had a better tournament than the four time Champions League winner. The things he has had to put his body through to play in this tournament after the injury against Chelsea are admirable. In a team filled with young cente- backs partners and a talented but inexperienced Aurélien Tchouaméni in front of him, Varane provided the leadership and experience needed to offset a French defensive unit missing multiple key players as they narrowly missed out on retaining the trophy.
Theo Hernández (France)
To be entirely honest, there wasn’t a stand-out Left back at this World Cup. Luke Shaw had a good tournament, but an argument can be made that he didn’t go far enough. For a right back, Noussair Mazraoui did so well filling in at Left Back due to Achraf Hakimi taking his preferred position while Raphaël Guerreiro simply dind’t play enough games, though he was excellent when he did. Theo Hernández did do a lot of good and appeared to be just a shade above his peers, though, he had a horrible game against England that could have been costly. With the French team missing lots of senior attacking players, more was required of him and he stepped up, scoring once and providing two assists. Hernández was the only defender in the top ten chance-creators at this World Cup, with 11; only Antoine Griezmann (22) and Lionel Messi (21) created more chances than him.
Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)
After Les Bleus beat Morocco in the semi-finals, Emmanuel Macron, President of France, made his way to the Atlas Lions’ dressing room to personally congratulate them on a phenomenal run. He then specifically sought out Sofyan Amrabat and, in front of the entire Moroccan team, stated he had been the best midfielder at the World Cup, and should be proud of himself. Emmanuel Macron isn’t exactly a thought-leader in football, but it says a lot when one of the world leaders goes out of his way to acknowledge what was a string of impressive performances. The Fiorentina midfielder was at the heart of Morocco’s midfield and help shield the back-line by his tough tackling and ball winning. He won possession 57 times at the 2022 World Cup, the most by any African player at a single tournament since 1966. Of course, he had what was the tackle of the tournament; a last-ditch effort against Kylian Mbappé at the edge of the box in the semi-final.
Antoine Griezmann (France)
Tasked in an unfamiliar role of orchestrating the French midfield, Antoine Griezmann stepped up with a performance that made him look like a late 2000s Xabi Alonso. He defended when he needed to, attacked when he needed to, and controlled the tempo of games perfectly. When Kylian Mbappé was nullified against England, it was Antoine Griezmann who stepped up with two assists – the second of which was a peach of a cross. In this tournament, he led every one in chances created (22) including Lionel Messi (21) as he proved to be a menace for the opposition defense despite never getting on the scoresheet. Over the years for France, he has shown his tactical flexibility by playing in a front-two, on the left in a front-three and now, in a midfield-three. For a star who seemed to have fallen from grace after an ill-advised move to Barcelona a few years ago (then being in the middle of a transfer-chess-match between Atlético and the Catalan side earlier this season), this World Cup performance could be the rebirth of Griezmann’s career.
Enzo Fernández (Argentina)
The Benfica young star had a tournament for the ages, and it’ll be a huge surprise if he remains in Portugal for much longer. While Sofyan Amrabat and Antoine Griezmann were shoo-ins for slots in the Team of the Tournament, England’s teenage sensation, Jude Bellingham and Croatian veteran midfielder Luka Modrić were strong strong candidates for this last spot in the midfield. Enzo’s performance in the final, however, did more than enough to sway the vote his way. In the victory over France, the 21-year-old led all players in touches (118), successful passes (77) and tackles (10), per Opta. Those 10 tackles were the most by any player in a World Cup final since Gennaro Gattuso in 2006 (15) and a sign of a wonderful career ahead of the young Argentine.
Kylian Mbappé (France)
Having Mbappé in the tournament is a no-brainer. We have Emiliano Martínez as our goalkeeper of the tournament and Mbappé got past him thrice in the final – four times, if you’re including the penalty shootout. He was that good. A World Cup golden boot – to take his tally to 12 – is simply ridiculous for someone who just turned 24, and it feels like only an injury can stop him from breaking Miroslav Klose’s record (16 goals) in 2026. He has scored more World Cup final goals than any other player in history (4) and he is starting to make this tournament his own, just like the great Pelé did.
Julián Álvarez (Argentina)
Álvarez wasn’t a starter for Argentina and still is a rotation-piece for Manchester City. Prior to this tournament, he had scored just three goals for La Albiceleste and even started the tournament as a sub. Yet, when his name was called upon, he was ready. Four goals – three of which came in the knockout – in his first World Cup outing is a return he could only dream of. When Lionel Messi needed a dependable Robin to his Batman – especially with Ángel Di María lacking match fitness/form and Lautaro Martínez hitting everything but the target – Julián Álvarez answered the call.
Lionel Messi (Argentina) – Player of the Tournament
What more needs to be said? There hasn’t been a greater individual performance at the FIFA World Cup since Diego Maradona in 1986. Messi led the country in all attacking metrics, and was involved in 56.3% of Argentina’s shots. The only player to be involved in a higher proportion in a World Cup for their team was, you guessed it, Diego Maradona for Argentina in 1986 (56.4%). For years, he was mocked for not having a goal in the knockout stage of his career, and how did he answer? He became the first player to score in every knockout game in a single edition of football’s premier competition. The Qatar World Cup will be forever be remembered as Lionel Messi’s crowing moment – the tournament in which he became the undisputed GOAT. This was his magnum opus.
MANAGER OF THE TOURNAMENT
Walid Regragui (Morocco)
Having Lionel Scaloni on this list would be perfectly understandable and hard to argue against. He displayed incredible leadership but most of all, a willingness to make big calls as he became the third manager in history to win both the World Cup and Copa América, after Mário Zagallo (1970 World Cup, 1997 Copa América) and Carlos Alberto Parreira (1994 World Cup, 2004 Copa América), both of whom did so with Brazil. That being said, the work done by Walid Regragui was simply breathtaking. Brought into the role just months before the tournament and tasked with reintegrating Hakim Ziyech into the team following his year-long absence, Regragui excelled where most men would fold and lean on the obvious excuse of not having enough prep-time. He made this Moroccan team almost impossible to break down while still enjoyable to watch. Two months ago, only followers of African football and a few others knew his name. Now, the whole world knows.
/ 10 months ago
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