SportsSelecting 11 players to make the tournament's World Cup...

Selecting 11 players to make the tournament’s World Cup team for 2022

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NBC Sports Boston first published Picking 11 Players to Form the 2022 World Cup Team of the Competition.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 comes to an abrupt end.

After a thrilling 3-3 draw, the match between France and Argentina was decided on penalties, where Lionel Messi and company won despite Kylian Mbappé scoring three goals for Les Bleus.

More than 800 of the top athletes in the world gathered to compete in one of the largest events sports have to offer after 28 days and 64 matches.

The difficult part is picking the 11 players who will make up the competition’s Team of the Tournament.

FIFA put together a statistical Team of the Tournament after 2010, 2014, and 2018 World Cups to honor the top performers in every position. However, it isn’t a recognized designation.

With 2022 now in the books, the following 11 players will be chosen to represent Qatar in a 4-3-3 formation on the Team of the Tournament:

Goalkeeper: Dominik Livaković, Croatia

Danijel Subai’s heroic efforts in goal helped Croatia reach the 2018 World Cup Final, and 2022 gave his backup that year a chance to take center stage.

The 27-year-old Livakovi did everything he had for the Vatreni, most notably stopping three penalties in one shootout to defeat Japan, then making 11 stops against Brazil in normal and extra time to secure a second penalty shootout victory. Unfortunately, the Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper was unable to repeat those performances against Lionel Messi and company, but they undoubtedly helped him obtain a transfer to a more prestigious team.

Yassine Bounou, Morocco, is a deserving mention.

Left-back: Theo Hernández, France

Left-back is one of the positions where it is most difficult to find exceptional players. Theo and Lucas Hernández, a sibling combo, were fortunate to have two of them in France. Lucas, the senior and a crucial member of Bayern Munich suffered an ACL tear in the first game of Group D against Australia.

Theo, an AC Milan starter, could enter as a result. Theo, the quicker of the two, connected superbly with Kylian Mbappé down the left-hand flank, wreaking havoc upon defenders with his terrifying pace. It resulted in two assists before the goal against Morocco in the semifinals. Despite playing through injuries, he gets the nod here.

Raphael Guerreiro, Portugal, is deserving of consideration.

Left center back: Joško Gvardiol, Croatia

How frequently do you see 20-year-old center backs making their World Cup debuts who appear to have played the position for ten years? Unless you’re Joko Gvardiol, rarely. With his dominant play in the Croatian backline and the formation of an important relationship with Livakovi, the centre-back from RB Leipzig made his debut on the big stage.

Another exceptional characteristic he exhibits at such a young age is his elite speed and ball-playing abilities for a left-footed center defender. He also made several important runs in the offensive phase, and his efforts against Morocco in the third-place match—in which he also ought to have received a penalty in the second half—were rewarded with a flying-headed goal.

Tim Ream, USA, deserves a special note.

Right center back: Thiago Silva, Brazil

Thiago Silva, another veteran of ten years, joins Gvardiol. The 38-year-old Chelsea defender has more than 10 years of experience, and thanks to his faultless performances for the Brazilian defense, no one ever questioned his age.

In the round of 16, he assisted against South Korea, showcasing his attacking talent. When in possession or needed to defend, he rarely made a mistake. Sadly for his country, it led to a loss on penalties against Croatia, with the single goal they gave up coming from a deflection on the Vatreni’s sole attempt on goal. But that shouldn’t cast a shadow over what he did in Qatar.

Honorable mention: Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi

Right back: Achraf Hakimi, Morocco

Thiago Silva, another veteran of ten years, joins Gvardiol. The 38-year-old Chelsea defender has more than 10 years of experience, and thanks to his faultless performances for the Brazilian defense, no one ever questioned his age.

In the round of 16, he assisted against South Korea, showcasing his attacking talent. When in possession or needed to defend, he rarely made a mistake. Sadly for his country, it led to a loss on penalties against Croatia, with the single goal they gave up coming from a deflection on the Vatreni’s sole attempt on goal. But that shouldn’t cast a shadow over what he did in Qatar.

Honorable mention: Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi

Defensive midfielder: Sofyan Amrabat, Morocco

Morocco proved difficult to break down for more reasons than just the defenders. Sofyan Amrabat, the defensive midfielder, was just unbreakable as the wall in front of the backline. Due to his and youngster Azzedine Ounahi’s impressive play in the middle of the field, the 26-year-old Fiorentina midfielder may also be moving on to a bigger club.

Amrabat was a gigantic opponent in ground and aerial combat, taking up acres of territory in the left, right, and center zones. If your goal was to take him on and dribble past him, you would have lost the fight. If properly scouted, defensive midfielders who are strong in their half can be found, but very few have the technical ability to advance play from the defensive phase.

France’s Aurélien Tchouaméni is deserving of note.

Central midfielder: Antoine Griezmann, France

It will be difficult to put Antoine Griezmann’s position in numerical terms. The Frenchman, 31, has filled various positions in Didier Deschamps’ team, frequently operating as a free midfielder while the team is in control and serving as a center midfielder in their 4-4-2 midblock. The latter is the reason Griezmann is here.

Griezmann, who leads the team with three assists on the other side of the ball, has been an unsung hero for Les Bleus, making important interceptions and tackles in the defensive third. Although France’s midfield frequently appeared overmatched when defending, its outstanding build-up play allowed it to advance to the final. Even though they lost the championship game, France has him to thank for literally everything.

Honorable mention: Argentina’s Enzo Fernández

Attacking midfielder: Lionel Messi, Argentina

Kylian Mbappé is the upcoming international football star. The Frenchman, now 23 years old, made his mark on the world stage by scoring four goals in seven games during the 2018 tournament, including one in the final, and seven goals in six starts during the 2022 tournament, which included a hat trick in the final that earned him the Golden Boot Award.

The Paris Saint-Germain player was a major threat down the left side of the field throughout the competition and had two assists to his credit. It is almost impossible to stop him because of his exceptional burst and ability to accelerate and decelerate by turning a light switch and dribbling in confined places. He has accomplished so much in such a short period and still has much to do.

Dutchman Cody Gakpo is deserving of special note.

Left wing: Kylian Mbappé, France

Kylian Mbappé is the upcoming international football star. The Frenchman, now 23 years old, made his mark on the world stage by scoring four goals in seven games during the 2018 tournament, including one in the final, and seven goals in six starts during the 2022 tournament, which included a hat trick in the final that earned him the Golden Boot Award.

The Paris Saint-Germain player was a major threat down the left side of the field throughout the competition and had two assists to his credit. It is almost impossible to stop him because of his exceptional burst and ability to accelerate and decelerate by turning a light switch and dribbling in confined places. He has accomplished so much in such a short period and still has much to do.

Dutchman Cody Gakpo is deserving of special note.

Striker: Julian Álvarez, Argentina

The criticism of Messi’s performances in international competitions was that he never had a single high-caliber striker to partner with him. Gonzalo Higuain most famously did this during the 2014 World Cup, and Lautaro Martinez did the same thing in 2022 before being benched toward the end of the group stage.

As a result, Julian Lvarez, a 22-year-old forward for Manchester City, was able to fill in and perform above all expectations. Throughout seven games, he scored four goals, five of which came while starting. It’s hard to imagine where Argentina’s goals would come from without him. The timing of his ascent, though, was ideal for Messi and company.

France’s Olivier Giroud is a deserving mention.

Right wing: Bukayo Saka, England

Despite losing in the quarterfinals, England had a fantastic tournament. The swing might go either way when you play the reigning champions earlier than you’d prefer. Bukayo Saka, a right winger who is 21 years old, finished the game as the greatest attacker on the field even though the Three Lions were defeated.

Theo Hernández, who made this list, was overshadowed by the Arsenal star. Before the quarterfinal game, he had three goals in three starts. Additionally, exceptional left-footed right-wingers are rare (you may have picked it up by now, but elite left-footed players are a luxury). Jude Bellingham, Marcus Rashford, and Harry Maguire are all strong prospects, but Saka seems set to be the next player and represent England on this list.

Ritsu Doan, Japan, is a deserving mention.

Manager: Walid Regragui, Morocco

Here, not much more needs to be said. Despite the numerous injuries his defenders endured throughout the competition, Walid Regragui took over the position in August and then guided the Atlas Lions to the semifinals, making them the first-ever African team to get that far. Although he deserves all the praise for providing his side the best chance to win every game, it was nonetheless a historic effort.

Honorable mention: Argentina’s Lionel Scaloni

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