From the standout performers to breakout stars, Sky Sports selects the 2022 World Cup team of the tournament
Monday 19 December 2022 12:15, UK
Qatar 2022 has delivered goals, giant-killings, and a blockbuster finale to end all finales, as Lionel Messi led Argentina to World Cup immortality.
From the standout performers to breakout stars, Sky Sports 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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Argentina's strength has come in unity behind Lionel Messi, and no player typified that more than Marcos Acuna. The left-back's versatility and all-round contribution 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.
While Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud supplied the goals, Antoine Griezmann was the engine which drove 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, and ended the tournament as the most-creative player.
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.
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.
How Morocco's Azzedine Ounahi went from France's third tier to lighting up the world stage in the space of 18 months.
Nobody has scored more goals or provided more assists than Lionel Messi in Qatar. In willing his team to World Cup glory, he showed an edge to his game that has not always been evident. At 35, he is past his peak, but he was still better than everyone else.
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 had the Golden Boot in sight heading into the final and ending the tournament with four goals to his name, but sadly not a second winners' medal.
The winner of the Golden Boot with eight goals, Kylian Mbappe only strengthened his claim as the undeniable successor to Messi's crown of the world's greatest player. The 23-year-old became only the second player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, dragging France to within a penalty shootout of retaining their crown.
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).