2022 World Cup: Sportz Point’s Team of the tournament

Finalists Argentina and France are both well-represented in our lineup of the best players from a memorable tournament in Qatar.
2022 World Cup: Sportz Point’s Team of the tournament

The 2022 World Cup final was billed as the battle of the No 10s – Argentina's Lionel Messi versus France's Kylian Mbappe.

It was the seven-time Ballon D'or winner up against the young pretender to his throne as the world's greatest player. And boy how the Paris Saint-Germain pair delivered on Sunday in what was one of the greatest finals of all time.

After 80 minutes of the showpiece in Doha, Argentina looked to be cruising to victory and a first title since 1986. The South Americans were 2-0 up thanks to a penalty from the talismanic Messi and a second goal from Angel Di Maria.

And then Mbappe strode into centre stage. First, he scored a penalty, then produced a sweet right-footed strike to level the scores. Game on. Extra time.

But the magician Messi struck again in the second period of extra time, pouncing to fire home what was surely the winner.

Mbappe had other ideas. He became the first player since Sir Geoff Hurst in 1966 to score a World Cup final hat-trick after slotting home a penalty to make it 3-3.

After four weeks and 64 games, it came down to penalties. Mbappe and Messi made no mistake but France's Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni missed theirs to hand the trophy to Argentina – and allow Messi to take his place alongside Maradona in the pantheon of Argentina's greats.

On the road to the final, so many players had left an indelible mark on the tournament, from some of the biggest names in the game to those who seized their chance to shine in Qatar.

2022 World Cup: Team of the Tournament:

GK: Dominik Livaković (Croatia)

Livakovic's incredible run in the World Cup 2022 has caught quite a few eyeballs. The Croatian shot-stopper has been absolutely sensational in between the sticks. His performance against Brazil in the Quarter-finals was by far the best goalkeeping performance of the tournament.

Livakovic made around 10 saves in the match against Brazil. He then managed to knock them out with mind-boggling saves in the penalty shootout. The end result might not be that great but his journey is one to praise.

Here is our take on 11 players who outshone everyone in Qatar.

RB: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)

Achraf Hakimi was up and down the right-hand side all day long. He was a potent threat in the opposition half and ensured that he was there to do his defensive duties as well.

The PSG full-back teamed up with Ziyech on the right as the duo made life difficult for some of the biggest teams in Europe. Defeating Portugal in the quarter-final was some effort and a lot of credit goes to Hakimi.

CB: Joško Gvardiol (Croatia)

Gvardiol had the bad luck that one extended, losing tussle with Lionel Messi will be among the most replayed passages of the World Cup.

Besides those few seconds, the figure in the protective mask was towering and authoritative, his challenges tough and well-timed, his marking astute. A wonderful goal in the third-place play-off will be his happy souvenir.

CB: Christian Romero (Argentina)

Romero, a £42 million signing from Serie A outfit Atalanta in the summer of 2021, completed nine clearances in Sunday's final. Six more than anyone else on the pitch. Tottenham fans will be intrigued to see how this World Cup win impacts Romero upon his return. He has been a colossal signing for Spurs. On his day, he is easily the best defender at the club.

LB: Theo Hernandez (France)

Hernandez certainly seized his opportunity to impress following the injury to his brother, Lucas, in France's opening game of the tournament. Given an unexpected chance to start throughout the tournament, he played a key role in France's journey to the final.

And though he was given a pretty torrid time by Bukayo Saka in the quarter-final against England, he showed good mentality to bounce back and score in the semi-final victory over Morocco. 

CM: Enzo Fernandez (Argentina)

Fernandez served notice to the rest of the tournament when he came off the bench to score that wonderful goal against Mexico in the group stages, and from that moment on, he cemented himself in the Argentina starting XI and became an integral part of their successful run to the final.

An exciting midfield talent who Benfica might struggle to keep hold of in the coming months, they will at least know they can ask for a huge fee when they eventually sell the Young Player of the Tournament.

CM: Alexis Mac Allister (Argentina)

Mac Allister has emerged as a key player in Argentina's quest to win the World Cup, with some impressive stats as the link between Scaloni's midfield and attack. He was part of sweeping changes made by Scaloni following the shock opening 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia, with starts against Mexico and Poland, alongside his first international against the latter.

Despite Scaloni switching between systems in the knockout stages, Mac Allister has remained in the starting team as a midfield runner to support Messi. He was expected to be Scaloni's sixth penalty taker in the quarterfinal shootout win over the Netherlands, after powering through 120 minutes, and he started in the semifinal against Croatia.

Mac Allister was also in the starting lineup for the final against France and set up Angel Di Maria for Argentina's second, a superb team goal that started in their own half.

CAM: Antoine Griezmann (France)

What a revelation Griezmann was for France.

Handed a new slightly deeper role right on the eve of the tournament by Didier Deschamps, the Atletico Madrid forward answered his manager's calls with a series of fabulous displays.

His work ethic was exceptional, but his creative quality still came to the fore. Brilliant.

LW: Kylian Mbappe (France)

Mbappe picked up where he left off in Russia four years ago, producing yet another World Cup masterclass.

Image- Twitter

The Paris Saint-Germain star scored eight goals and picked up two assists as he fired France to the final and claimed the Golden Boot.

Injuries permitting, Mbappe should have at least two more World Cups to look forward to, and if he carries on at this rate, he could break almost every tournament record going.

ST: Julian Alvarez (Argentina)

This was a toss up between Alvarez and Olivier Giroud, as both had excellent performances leading the line for their countries.

But the emergence of Alvarez on the world stage has been one of the joys of the World Cup, and his individual goal against Croatia will live long in the memory.

Argentina have yet another huge attacking talent on their hand.

RW: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

He gave his fifth World Cup a highlights reel of skills that could have been drawn from any stage of his wonderful career, rolling back the years. He reminded that, quiet he may be, when the 35-year-old Messi speaks, he inspires.

Argentina's less-than-starry team were elevated by their superstar. He was the architect of the final's wonderful team goal, scored two himself and, at last, seized his cherished gold medal.

He scored seven goals, but his assist for Julian Alvarez against Croatia in the semi-final was a moment that will never be forgotten. A master at work.

Substitute:

 Emiliano Martinez, Dayot Upamecano,Romain Saiss, Juranovic, Luka Modric, Jude Bellingham, Olivier Giroud, Yousef En Nesyri.

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