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    World Cup 2022 team of the tournament

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    At some World Cups of yesteryear, the world’s best players have risen to the occasion, while at others, smaller names have showed up out of nowhere to steal the show. The 2022 edition, perhaps more than any other, had a bit of both.

    There were no big surprises further forward when it came to the best performers in Qatar, as a quick look at the Golden Boot rankings will tell you, but that wasn’t the case when it came to midfielders and defenders, with many producing multiple displays the world didn’t know they were capable of.

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    Without further ado, here’s 90min’s team of the 2022 World Cup.

    GK: Emiliano Martinez – This spot looked set to be Dominik Livakovic’s ahead of the final, but then Martinez went and produced the performance of his life, making a stunning safe at the very end of extra time to get Argentina to penalties and then saving two in the shootout – just as he did against the Netherlands too. Those two displays alone are enough to get him into the TOTT, but he wasn’t bad in the other matches either.

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    RB: Achraf Hakimi – He may have got no goals and only one assist but Hakimi was a far bigger attacking threat than those stats would suggest, creating a number of openings in every match, and was flawless at the back. There aren’t too many full-backs around that are genuinely world-class at both ends of the pitch, and Hakimi’s one of them.

    CB: Romain Saiss – The former Wolves player was arguably the best defender of the group stage and carried his form into the knockout games, leading his backline to clean sheets with monumental displays against Spain and Portugal. He picked up an injury in the latter match and so could only play 21 minutes of the semi-final against France, but Morocco may not have got there at all without him.

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    CB: Josko Gvardiol – As if Red Bull aren’t rich enough already, RB Leipzig man Gvardiol’s gone and all but guaranteed them millions more with his performances in Qatar. Going by his all-action displays at the back, he’d improve pretty much any team in the world, and he’s only 20.

    LB: Theo Hernandez – It’s a conversation best avoided at Christmas dinner in the Hernandez household, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that there’s a good chance France wouldn’t have made the final if Lucas didn’t get injured early on in the first match of the tournament. That injury saw brother Theo come into the starting XI and he changed the team, being the attacking spark they so badly needed.

    CM: Antoine Griezmann – If you foresaw Antoine Griezmann becoming the best box-to-box midfielder in the world in Qatar, please get in touch to let us know the lottery numbers. It’s a Joelinton-esque transformation nobody saw coming and showed a side of the game nobody knew the Frenchman had, with him creating goals at one end and preventing them at the other.

    DM: Sofyan Amrabat – Amrabat has gone up against some of the best midfielders in the world in the past month and not only held his own against them but stood out, protecting his defensive excellently and driving his team forward. Something tells us we’ll hear his name a lot in the January transfer window.

    CM: Enzo Fernandez – A worthy Young Player of the Tournament, Benfica’s Fernandez proved to be just what the Argentina midfield needed, starting and impressing in every match after coming off the bench and scoring against Mexico.

    RW: Lionel Messi- WIth seven goals and three assists, Messi played just as big a part in his nation’s World Cup triumph as Diego Maradona did in 1986. We’d say it massively strengthens his credentials in the GOAT debate, but is it really a debate anymore?

    ST: Julian Alvarez – Alvarez entered the World Cup as the second-choice striker for his country as he is for his club, and ended it as a national hero with four goals in five starts. Give him some games, Pep. He’s a bit good.

    LW: Kylian Mbappe – Despite losing to his PSG teammate in the end, Mbappe wasn’t overshadowed by Messi in Qatar by any means, winning the Golden Boot and scoring one of the best ever World Cup goals to single-handedly take the final to extra time. At the age of 23, he already looks all but certain to become his nation’s and the tournament’s all-time top scorer.

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