Picking a tournament Best XI is the easiest way to voluntarily suffer a migraine. There are plenty of deserving candidates but in the end, a team can only be made up of 11 players.
This selection was made before the World Cup final as is the custom when selecting the best teams of a given tournament. The team chosen is playing a 4-3-3 formation, writes MARK NAMANYA.
DOMINIK LIVAKOVIC (CROATIA)
Technically speaking, Croatia finished third at the World Cup because of their goalkeeper. Livakovic kept two clean sheets in the group stages before shutting out Japan and Brazil in the second round and quarterfinals. His post-match penalty performance against Japan was one for the ages.
HAKIMI ACHRAF (MOROCCO)
Before the World Cup, the PSG man was rated by many as the best right full back in the game. And he truly lived up to his billing. Hakimi was resolute in defence and a threat offensively. His Panenka penalty to knock out Spain, the country of his birth, will be among the highlight reels of the 2022 World Cup.
MARCOS ACUNA (ARGENTINA)
The Argentine left full back was an embodiment of consistency in his country’s run to the World Cup final. He was a bundle of energy whose versatility proved valuable for coach Lionel Scaloni. Acuna just about edges the French left back Theo Hernandez.
ROMAIN SAISS (MOROCCO)
In matches against Croatia (in the group stage), Belgium, Canada, Spain and Portugal, the Atlas Lions only gave away one goal. And at the heart of that defensive masterclass was the Besiktas centre back. Saiss was the organiser and leader of that unit until he suffered injury in the latter stages. Against France in the semi-finals, he was literally on one leg.
RAPHAEL VARANE (FRANCE)
The World Cup winner showed why he is one of the most decorated players of his generation. Varane cleared his lines well, was imperious on the floor and in the air and simply proved a formidable obstacle for strikers. Despite his thin frame, Varane’s physicality and immaculate game reading helped limit the opportunities fashioned against Hugo Lloris.
SOFYAN AMRABAT (MOROCCO)
If Morocco had somehow reached the World Cup final, Amrabat would have been my pick for Player of the Tournament. Regardless, he was among the five best players of the Qatar 2022 tournament. Amrabat epitomised the Moroccan spirit at the World Cup; he was smart in possession, engineered recoveries of the ball and swept everything before him in front of his defence. He was a marvel.
LUKA MODRIC (CROATIA)
Modric is like a fine wine; the older he grows, the better he gets. Once again he was the metronome of Zlatko Dalic’s side. He controlled the tempo of matches and hardly misplaced a pass. Modric may not have scored at the World Cup but without him, Croatia just couldn’t function. He was as pivotal as Livakovic.
ANTOINE GRIEZMANN (FRANCE)
Greizmann is evidence that strikers can indeed convert into midfielders with devastating effect. At Russia 2018, he was playing high up the field but in Qatar his role was from deep in midfield. In a French team with perhaps the richest attacking talent, Griezmann was the ultimate creator running the show from inside and outside the midfield while assisting for Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.
LIONEL MESSI (ARGENTINA)
The best player of his generation ensconced himself among the finest footballers ever to lace up boots. Messi was at the heart of everything good that came out of Argentina. He was not just a scorer and creator, he was the heart and soul of the Albiceleste.
KYLIAN MBAPPE (FRANCE)
The bullet train of the Les Blues is every defender’s nightmare. Mbappe scored five and tore defences with his sheer pace and power reminiscent of Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima. The underestimated aspect of Mbappe’s game is his majestic finishing as witnessed in the victories over Australia and Poland.
JULIAN ALVAREZ (ARGENTINA)
This was my toughest call considering how impressive Olivier Giroud has been for France. But I picked Alvarez over Giroud because the former struck as many goals playing in a team which doesn’t have a luxury of creators, Messi notwithstanding. Alvarez started the tournament on the bench but after replacing the ineffectual Lautaro Martinez, he made the role his own with his eye for goal at key moments and stages.
COACH: WALID REGRAGUI (MOROCCO)
Regragui made history by guiding Morocco to the semi-finals of the Fifa World Cup, the first time an African nation has reached that far at the biggest event in world football. The Atlas Lions were a well-oiled side that became the toast of not just Africa but the Arab world as well.
Source: The Observer