Qatar 2022 has delivered goals, giant-killings, and the blockbuster final many hoped for, with Lionel Messi’s Argentina taking on Kylian Mbappe’s France on Sunday.
But as the curtain prepares to fall and the World Cup nears its conclusion, who makes Sky Sports’ team of the tournament?
From the standout performers to breakout stars, we have selected 11 players from Qatar in a 4-3-3 formation and, for good measure, included a 26-man squad given the sheer volume of quality that has been on display.
GK: Dominik Livakovic (Croatia)
Two clean sheets in the group stage and inspired between the sticks as Croatia overcame Japan and Brazil on penalties to reach the semi-finals. The scramble for Dominik Livakovic’s signature post-World Cup tells you just how well the 27-year-old performed.
RB: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
The poster boy of Morocco’s campaign, Achraf Hakimi lived up to his star billing in Qatar. From his robust defensive performances and his audacious ‘Panenka’ penalty, to the heartfelt embraces with his mother throughout the tournament, the Paris Saint-Germain right-back embodied Morocco’s fairytale run to the semi-finals.
CB: Josko Gvardiol (Croatia)
Lionel Messi has made the best defenders of his generation look silly. His tormenting of Josko Gvardiol in the semi-final should not detract from what was an inspired tournament for the Croatia defender, who is still only 20 years old. With Gvardiol anchoring defence, Croatia conceded just one goal in the group stage and just two more in the last 16 and quarter-finals before Argentina ran riot in the semis.
CB: Harry Maguire (England)
After his troubles with Manchester United at the start of the season, arguably no player arrived at the World Cup with more pressure on their shoulders than Harry Maguire. To perform as he did under such scrutiny, keeping three clean sheets in five matches in Qatar, the centre-back deserves huge credit.
LB: Marcos Acuna (Argentina)
Argentina’s strength has come in unity behind Lionel Messi, and no player typifies that more than Marcos Acuna. The left-back’s versatility and range has embodied the Argentine spirit in Qatar, not afraid to muck in when needed in attack but also not neglecting his primary job of protecting the goal.
CM: Antoine Griezmann (France)
While Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud have supplied the goals, Antoine Griezmann has been the engine driving France to successive World Cup finals. Griezmann has blossomed into a box-to-box midfielder in Qatar, as adept defending his own box as he is attacking the opposition’s. Having run the quarter-final victory over England and semi-final triumph over Morocco, the 31-year-old will be the key component if France are to retain their crown.
CM: Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)
If there was a moment that summed up Sofyan Amrabat, it was his crunching tackle on Kylian Mbappe in the semi-final. The French forward burst past all in his wake, but the Morocco midfielder caught up with him and showed the desire and quality to win the ball back off him to stop a counter-attack. Amrabat’s tackling is not the only side of his game, his calmness in possession rubbed off on his team-mates, giving Morocco the confidence they required to make history as they reached the semi-finals.
CM: Azzedine Ounahi (Morocco)
A name few had heard of before the tournament but one everyone in world football knows now. The up-and-coming Angers midfielder announced himself on the world stage in Qatar. His performances helped inspire Morocco to victories over Spain and Portugal en route to an historic semi-final appearance for the Atlas Lions, with former Spain boss Luis Enrique leading the plaudits for the 22-year-old.
RF: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Lionel Messi has single-handedly dragged Argentina to the World Cup final with five goals, three assists and a string of talismanic performances. We have witnessed true footballing greatness from Messi, and his finest moment in Qatar may be yet to come if he can get his hands on the greatest prize of all.
CF: Olivier Giroud (France)
Olivier Giroud has gone from failing to register a shot on target or score at Russia 2018 to the influential spearhead of France’s attack. Four years on from drawing a blank, Giroud has the Golden Boot in sight with four goals to his name, notably the quarter-final winner over England.
LF: Kylian Mbappe (France)
Messi could still have the final say in Qatar, but Kylian Mbappe has only strengthened his claim as the undeniable successor to the world’s greatest player crown. The 23-year-old has been unplayable, scoring five goals and registering two assists in a string of masterful performances which have brought a second World Cup within reach.
Yassine Bounou (Morocco), Hugo Lloris (France), Cristian Romero (Argentina), Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina), Theo Hernandez (France), Jude Bellingham (England), Luka Modric (Croatia), Casemiro (Brazil), Aurelien Tchouameni (France), Alexis Mac Allister (Argentina), Tyler Adams (USA), Cody Gakpo (Netherlands), Bukayo Saka (England), Richarlison (Brazil), Julian Alvarez (Argentina).
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