Team Of The Tournament – FIFA World Cup 2022: TFTWC Writers’ Pick

Team Of The Tournament – FIFA World Cup 2022: TFTWC Writers’ Pick

The 2022 FIFA World Cup ended in spectacular fashion as Argentina went the distance by beating France in the final on penalties to win the World Cup trophy after 36 years after what was a frenetic 120 minutes of football.

The world’s best players were on show in Qatar strutting their stuff on the pitch over the course of the month, with young players breaking out onto the international scene and establishing themselves as household names while some of the old guard turned back the clock to put in inspired performances.

There were also a number of surprise inclusions of players who put in stellar performances for their respective countries throughout the tournament.

Here are two of our very own TFTWC Writers’ verdicts on the team of the tournament in Qatar.

Rohit Ravi

Formation: 4-3-3

GK: Emiliano Martinez

There were quite a few contenders for this position. Bounou and Livakovic had excellent tournaments, but it would be a travesty to not have World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez on this list. Apart from having a solid tournament, it was his man of the match performance in the final, where he denied France a winner by making one of the most amazing saves ever in the 123rd minute of the game, and his penalty shootout heroics thereafter that firmly cements his place in our team of the tournament.

LB: Marcos Acuna

Despite being suspended for the semi-finals and not starting the final itself, Acuna’s performances for Argentina leading up to that stage were impressive. He bombed up and down the left flank, providing width and finding himself in dangerous positions as La Albiceleste dominated most games. While Perisic was a close competitor, Acuna’s defensive showing helped him get the left-back spot in my team of the tournament.

LCB: Josko Gvardiol

The 20-year-old Croatian has had a tournament to remember. Playing in his first World Cup, he looked like someone who already belonged to the big stage, playing with solidity and assurance at the back. His ability on the ball and positioning is well beyond his years. With Gvardiol, Croatia have a fantastic player to lead the backline for another decade at least.

RCB: Nicolas Otamendi

Otamendi rolled back the years at this World Cup, playing like a man in his prime years. The former Man City defender was a rock at the back along with Romero and forged a partnership that helped Argentina recover from their opening game loss to Saudi Arabia to grind out results and reach the final of the World Cup. The 34-year-old’s ability on the ball also came to the fore, making him my choice at the right half of central defense.

RB: Achraf Hakimi

Morroco’s stellar defensive showing in this World Cup was the talk of the tournament. While El Yamiq and Dari can find themselves unlucky not to feature in the team of the tournament, Hakimi is the standout choice at right back. Apart from being astute defensively, his surging forward runs on the right channel enabled Ziyech to combine with the PSG player to form a deadly duo. Morocco conceded from open play in just 2 games, and that’s largely down to Hakimi and his partners in defense.

DM: Sofyan Amrabat

I hope I am not the only one fooled by the fact that he’s not the Amrabat we all remember from Watford, but his younger brother from Fiorentina who is only 26. To be honest, I did not expect him to produce such spectacular performances, but what a surprise he ended up being. Although Ambrabat announced himself with workman-like performances in midfield, it was his excellent passing range that caught everybody’s eye. Sometimes it felt like there were not just one, but multiple Amrabats on the pitch!

RCM: Luka Modric

What is left to say about this 38-year-old magician that has not been said already? While Messi and Mbappe may have eclipsed him in terms of numbers and goal contributions, Modric’s dominance on the ball remained second to none. He controlled Croatia’s midfield, receiving the ball in defense, midfield, and attack, making fans wonder if he was indeed 38 and not 28. With quality on the ball reminiscent of that of Iniesta and Xavi, he proved his class once again, leading Croatia to a 3rd place finish.

LCM: Azzedine Ounahi

Moroccan players have currently hijacked my list, and rightfully so. Along with Amrabat, Ounahi turned out to be a thorn in other teams’ plans. He was an engine in midfield, constantly running and providing industry in attack and defense. His positional awareness and ability to disrupt the opposition’s flow of play was evident against Spain in the RO16, which just got better and better as the tournament progressed. Bellingham was a close competitor, but like I said, Morocco seems to have hijacked my list!

RW: Lionel Messi

The player of the tournament, and the man who settled the GOAT status on Sunday night, is the most obvious pick of the list. In typical fashion, he was magical on the ball, with spectacular goals, defense-splitting assists, and Messi-esque dribbling all on show throughout the tournament, including the final. But it was his nasty side to the game that was a sight to behold, as he led his group of men through the trenches to finally seal his dream of winning the only trophy missing from his stacked trophy cabinet.

LW: Kylian Mbappe

Did we just witness a passing of the baton from Messi to Mbappe on Sunday? Mbappe single-handedly pulled France out of the doldrums to take the game to extra time, and then to penalties. Despite bagging a hat trick in the final, the 23-year-old still remarkably ended up on the losing side, cruelly missing out on his second World Cup trophy. However, the tournament’s golden boot winner with 8 goals also rightly features in my team of the tournament.

ST: Olivier Giroud

France’s highest-ever goal scorer had a night to forget in the final of the World Cup, as he had an injury scare before the game and was hauled off before halftime, much to his disappointment. However, the 36-year-old Frenchman seems to be aging like fine wine. It was his performances in the group stages and the knockouts that got France into the final in the first place. Giroud deservedly rounds up my team of the tournament.

Manager: Lionel Scaloni

John Mathew

Formation: 4-3-3

GK : Emiliano Martinez

The definition of clutch. Martinez triumphed whenever Argentina called upon him. Whether it was the shootout against the Dutch or the French, or that save which kept the La Albiceleste in the game from the jaws of yet another heartbreak; Emiliano Martinez holds just as much importance as any other star of the Argentine squad.

LB : Achraf Hakimi

Another Moroccan on the list because of their magical run at the World Cup. Hakim Ziyech coming inside gave Hakimi the flank and boy did he play it well. He was almost a trigger for the majority of Moroccan breakaways and an inspiration with his immaculate performances at wing-back. He played at both right-back & left-back in the tournament slotting in, doing his job and showcasing his versatility as well.

CB : Josko Gvardiol

A perfect tournament; well almost, barring Leo Messi dribbling past the 20-year-old. Gvardiol was the rock which Croatia built upon. He was physical, dominant, and just as calm and composed on the ball & excellent at distribution. The world needed another Rolls Royce defender, and we’ve got one.

CB : Roman Saiss

Rabat will sing his name for years to come. Marrakesh will be glowing with his murals. Saiss as captain was the inspiration that gave the Moroccan team and the nation & a historic run that will go down in record books. Injuries might have cut short his brilliant World Cup display but not his vigor. Always ready. Born ready.

RB : Josip Juranovic

Celtic’s brilliant Croat, Juranovic never missed a beat, be it on the offensive or defensive side of play. His runs marauding down the flank were reminiscent of how Vrsaljko made his name known at the 2018 World Cup. At 27 and due for a big move, Europe’s big boys are on the lookout for him after his standout performances in Qatar.

CM : Sofyan Amrabat

Probably the best midfielder of the tournament, Amrabat made his name known to the world. He was a rock in front of the defense, distributing the ball at every given instance & bossing the midfield with his tenacity. With his progressive passing, getting stuck in with his tackling and orchestrating Morocco’s midfield, Amrabat was instrumental in his team’s run to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

CM : Enzo Fernandes

The best young player of the tournament Enzo Fernandes had been making waves in Europe in the months leading up to Qatar. However, doing it on the world stage is a different case. Coming into the World Cup he was second fiddle to Paredes in the squad, at the end of it, Argentina seem to have found their next midfield maestro. Elegance.

CAM : Antoine Griezmann

The engine of the French team, Griezmann was France’s most efficient and productive schemer. Playing as a 10 & dropping in pockets and breaking lines with 3.6 xA from 7 games, he ran the show throughout the World Cup except for the final. After Kante couldn’t make the squad, Griezmann apparently took it upon himself to be Kante when need be, as well. Jugador.

LW : Kylian Mbappe

Where to start? The top scorer of the tournament, a hat-trick in the final for the first time in history. Mbappe may have lost the trophy on the finest of margins but his World Cup performance is one for the history books. This guy ain’t leaving the block with just one World Cup triumph, with a Ballon d’Or waiting in the wings as well. He’s only 23.

ST: Julian Alvarez

Pep Guardiola rarely misses on his conclusions. When Pep said that Alvarez had the best chance to kiss the world title during a City training session, no one foresaw this coming. Lautaro Martinez went out of form, and in came Julian Alvarez with all his work rate and dynamism. Not to forget that this kid can finish. As Cesc Fabregas rightly pointed out, City having both Haaland and Alvarez does not seem fair to the rest. What a talent.

RW : Leo Messi

Golden ball winner. Captain. World champion. There’s no need to say more about Messi and his tournament. Criticism came and went, but talent & class stood out throughout and shined above everything else once again. This was Messi’s World Cup. Campeon.

Manager: Walid Regragui

Also read: The Greatest Of Finals: Argentina Go The Distance With Messi Immortalised

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