After almost a month of football extravaganza, the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar ended on Sunday, December 18, as Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties to clinch its third title.
The first winter World Cup in history, the tournament saw 172 goals, one more than the 2018 edition in Russia.
Over the course of the 64 matches played in the quadrennial event, several players stepped up to the occasion, shining for their respective teams.
Following is Sportstar’s team of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Emiliano Martinez (Argentina)
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez won the ‘Golden Glove’ award after the final against France. Martinez’s contribution to Argentina’s winning run has been crucial. He has kept three clean sheets in seven matches, making seven saves and conceding eight goals.
Out of the two penalty shootouts Argentina faced, he made two saves against the Netherlands in the quarterfinal and one against France in the final.
Apart from shootouts, he made important saves from the shots of Garang Kuol of Australia and Randal Kolo Muani of France in the final.
Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Achraf Hakimi was a big reason behind Morocco’s historic run in the FIFA World Cup 2022, where it became the first African team to reach the semifinal stages in the tournament’s history.
Defensively, Hakimi was solid throughout the tournament, making 46 recoveries and winning 17 tackles. Offensively, he was sharp, and along with Hakim Ziyech on the right, he constantly badgered the opposition with his overlapping play.
He created six chances in the tournament and even got an assist.
Romain Saiss (Morocco)
Morocco conceded just one goal on its road to the semifinal where it lost 2-0 to France. Atlas Lions captain Romain Saiss had a huge role to play in this defensive compactness. He formed a solid partnership with Jawad El Yamiq at the back, which proved tough for opponents to break down.
Saiss displayed a brilliant performance against Portugal in the quarterfinal. Throughout the tournament, Saiss made 28 recoveries. Such was his importance, that his injury completely dismantled Morocco’s backline as it conceded two against France.
Josko Gvardiol (Croatia)
Croatia’s 20-year-old left-footed centre-back Josko Gvardiol has been one of the revelations of the tournament.
Playing every minute of his country’s World Cup campaign, Gvardiol had 44 recoveries- a tournament-leading figure. He had eight interceptions and ranks second behind Netherland’s Jurrien Timber, who has 10.
Gvardiol was equally efficient in aerial and ground tackling. This, along with his excellent understanding of positioning, allowed him to anticipate attacking threats from the opposition.
He also scored a goal in Croatia’s 2-1 win against Morocco in the third-place match, where he scored the first goal with a diving header, becoming his country’s youngest-ever World Cup scorer at 20 years and 328 days.
Theo Hernandez (France)
What makes Theo Hernandez such a dangerous fullback is his immense work rate. His brother, Lucas, was ruled out for the tournament, but Theo proved to be a crucial aspect in France’s setup- both in defence and attack.
He created 10 chances, along with bagging a goal and an assist in the tournament. In fact, Hernandez’s goal against Morocco was the first one Morocco conceded from an opposition player in the Qatar World Cup.
Defensively, he won 13 tackles and made 30 recoveries, which are brilliant numbers for a fullback.
Aurelien Tchouameni (France)
Aurelien Tchouameni of France missed his penalty in the final shootout against Argentina, but it does not take away the brilliant tournament he had for his country.
Up to the final, defensively, the midfielder has the most interceptions in the World Cup (12) – according to Opta – followed by Declan Rice (11) and Jurrien Timber (10).
He scored a brilliant goal from distance against England in the quarterfinal to open the scoring for France in its 2-1 win against the Three Lions.
With Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante’s absence, Tchouameni came into the tournament with a lot of expectations, and it is safe to say that he lived up to them, despite failing to cross the final hurdle.
Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)
Sofyan Amrabat was a rock for Morocco in the middle of the park and a major reason behind nipping opposition attacks in the bud.
Amrabat had a pass percentage of 85% in 660 minutes of playtime and created two chances from open play. But his main job was snatching the ball from the opposition, and he did very well, racking up 57 recoveries throughout the tournament and winning 10 tackles.
Amrabat was a big reason behind Morocco having such a stellar defensive record.
Kylian Mbappe (France)
Kylian Mbappe won his first World Cup for France when he was just 18 and reached his second successive final at the age of 23. He is touted as the next big thing, and there is not even a shred of exaggeration in that.
Mbappe finished as the Golden Boot winner of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with eight goals and scored a hat-trick in the final against Argentina, becoming just the second player to do so in a World Cup final after Geoff Hurst for England against West Germany in 1966.
Apart from the eight goals, Mbappe had two assists in the campaign. He is also just the fifth man to score in multiple World Cup finals and the second to score in back-to-back finals.
Antoine Griezmann (France)
Antoine Griezmann was one of the big reasons why France was such an attacking threat in the World Cup. Often underrated, he is one of the most hardworking players on the team. Despite having a bland season with Atletico Madrid before the World Cup, for France, he was immaculate.
He created nine chances for France from open play and provided three assists for the Les Blues, two of which came against England in the quarterfinal. With 28 assists, he broke the joint record of 26 assists set by Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane.
He was also important for France in the defensive phase of play as he snatched the ball from the opposition. He has eight interceptions and 34 recoveries in this World Cup.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Lionel Messi finally completed his trophy cabinet after winning his World Cup after beating France in the World Cup final.
Winner of the Golden Ball, Messi was crucial in Argentina’s run to the final. He scored seven goals for Argentina and bagged three assists. In the knockout rounds, he scored five goals, including two in the final. Messi also created seventeen chances for the Albiceleste from open play.
He won five ‘Man of the Match’ awards, the most won by any player in a single edition of a tournament.
Julian Alvarez (Argentina)
Julian Alvarez started the World Cup from the bench but quickly made his way into the starting lineup after impressing head coach Lionel Scaloni.
Alvarez scored four goals for Argentina in the World Cup, including knockout goals against Australia and Croatia. His link-up play with Messi was a big reason behind Argentina’s attacking threat.
Lautaro Martinez’s underperformance was the reason why Alvarez started, but after this World Cup, Argentina may just have its new No. 9 for its long-term future.
How the team would shape up (4-2-3-1)
- Live Score IND vs WI 2nd Test, Day 4: India sets West Indies 365-run target; Rain delays restart
- Hopman Cup: Croatia downs Switzerland to clinch title
- Jonas Vingegaard wins second successive Tour de France
- Wrestling trials for Asian Games: Upsets galore show past has little influence on the present
- Deodhar Trophy: Tournament favourite South Zone looks to open campaign on a high against North Zone