Qatar 2022: Team of the Tournament

As the dust settles from an incredible World Cup Final, plenty of people have had their say on who they believe should be in their “Team of the Tournament.”

Some guidelines were needed to make this team as accurate as possible: 

– Missed no more than one game for their country

– Got to the QFs at least

These guidelines allowed for a better (and more realistic) team than just picking from the final four teams.

So, here is my team thanks to the BBC. Click to pick your team of the tournament.

Goalkeeper: Dominik Livakovic (Croatia)

There were three contenders for this award, all of whom were vital to their nations’ victories in one way or another. This decision came down to a toss-up between the Moroccan Yassine Buonou and Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic. Although Buonou kept more clean sheets during the World Cup, one of which was against a Spain side that had scored seven in their opening game, Livakovic’s performance against Brazil was the standout.

When you combine that with the fact that he made the most saves in the tournament, it’s a no-brainer. Livkavic made a total of 25 saves, while, Buonou and Martinez made seven each. The keeper who probably would be up here if he had made the quarter-finals would have been Wojciech Szczesny of Poland. Szczesny pulled off a whopping 23 saves and two clean sheets in four games.

Right Back: Ashraf Hakimi (Morocco)

If truth be told there weren’t many stand-out performers at right-back, but Hakimi managed to do very well both defensively and going forward which means he gets the nod just ahead of Kyle Walker and Nahuel Molina. Hakimi’s performances helped teammate Hakim Ziyech immensely even though it wasn’t enough to take them all the way to glory.

Centre Back: Raphael Varane (France)

Varane has always been an excellent defender with a great understanding of the game. His positioning has made up for the pace that has been diminishing with age and numerous injuries. The Frenchman provided the experience and guidance Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate needed. Varane gave his all right to the end, until he could give no more.

Centre Back: Roman Saiss (Morocco)

The captain of Morocco is another player who has played out of his skin. Now, by no means would Varane and Saiss make an impenetrable backline, but they are both leaders of men. Saiss showed a great willingness to end his season by playing with an injury in the quarter-final win against Portugal and only lasted around 15 minutes in the semi-final loss to France.

Left Back: Theo Hernandez (France)

Theo was another of the French players expecting to be a backup for a starter, and that’s how the tournament started with Theo on the bench against Australia, well, for 13 minutes. Theo’s brother Lucas fell to the floor as Australia scored the opening goal of the game. From that moment on Theo played, providing a goal and two assists in the tournament. Although he looked a little suspect defensively at times, he’s still worthy of a spot in the team.

Defensive Midfield: Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)

Sofyan Amrabat has finally been able to show everyone what he has been doing all season for Fiorentina. The hard-working midfielder not only helped maintain his team’s fantastic defensive record but was also instrumental in starting many of their attacks from a deep-lying midfield position. His tireless running and tackling abilities made him one of the stars of the tournament, so much so that Liverpool is likely to put a bid in for the player come the end of the season.

Centre Midfield: Jude Bellingham (England)

Jude Bellingham is a class act and a fantastic player. His performances were a standout in every game. In a tournament dominated by forwards, Bellingham was one of the few bright sparks that deserve a place in the team. The young Englishman will be the star that could help make sure that football comes home in the next decade-and-a-half. With all the young players around him, in Jude the coach needs to trust.

Centre Midfield: Antoine Griezmann (France)

Griezmann has had many different roles for Les Bleus over the last decade. His current one is that of a midfield maestro. His ability to hold on to the ball under pressure and win free kicks for his team is exceptional. Add to that his three assists and the incredible link-up play with Mbappe which made him a constant threat. If that isn’t enough, then feel free to watch a re-run of any game to see the amount of running he got through for his team.

Right Wing: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

What can you say about Messi that hasn’t already been said? So, how about a statistic that may shock you? During the World Cup, Messi covered a total of 53km during the games, but just over 30km of that distance was at walking speed. He ranked top for this stat, which shows us a couple of things; One, he had plenty of midfielders that would do the donkey work. Two, when you are Messi, you decide how and when to run to be the most effective you can be.

In the end, he was the player of the tournament!

Centre Forward: Julian Alvarez (Argentina)

This position was another toss-up, this time between Alvarez and Olivier Giroud. Although the Frenchman became his country’s all-time top scorer, he didn’t have as notable an impact on the outcome as Alvarez did. Although Giroud ended the tournament with the highest rating amongst all strikers, Alvarez’s performances and goals, when it mattered most, are enough to sway my vote.

Left Wing: Kylian Mbappe (France)

As previously mentioned, Lionel Messi ranked top for distance covered at walking speed during the World Cup. Well, Mbappe was second. Yet, The Frenchman ended up with the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals, with eight in total. The French star strolled around for 22.85km from his 44.54km covered. However, it has to be noted that both Mbappe and Messi do tend to find space before putting on the afterburners, and aren’t required to track back.

The PSG winger was magnificent throughout the tournament and showed how good he is yet again. The most suitable candidate to take over from the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar once they all retire.

That’s it for this World Cup.

See you in four years time, when Argentina will try to do what France couldn’t and retain the trophy. Not sure about you guys, but I sure hope these sore winners don’t win again in my lifetime.

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