Team of the Tournament and Awards From The World Cup


By Ethan Russ, Staff Writer

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has just finished. Some say it was a success, others disagree. This tournament was one of many firsts. The first World Cup in an Arab country, Morocco becoming the first African and Arab team to make it to the semi-finals, Kylian Mbappe the first player to score a hat-trick and still lose the World Cup (second ever to score a hat-trick in the final), and Messi winning his first ever World Cup final.

There were several standout players from the World Cup. Here is an unofficial list of the best 11 players from the World Cup:

Goalkeeper: Dominik Livakovic (Croatia)

Livakovic was twice a penalty shoot-out hero and many feel that he was snubbed of the Golden Glove Award (given to the best goalkeeper of the World Cup). He made several key saves to help Croatia ultimately finish in third place in the tournament. For those who have followed the 27-year-old shot-stopper during his time playing with his club team, it is likely no surprise that Livakovic had an outstanding tournament.

Freshman soccer player Colin Russ said, “I thought he performed very well. He was vital for Croatia in their run to the semi-final.”

Left Defender: Raphaël Guerreiro (Portugal)

Despite Portugal’s shock quarterfinal exit at the hands of Morocco, Guerreiro had a good tournament overall. He got a couple of goal involvements and played in every game except the 2-1 loss to South Korea.

Central Defender: Josko Gvardiol (Croatia)

The 20-year-old World Cup debutant was solid on defense, allowing seven goals across the tournament and even scoring in the third-place game against Morocco. He was expected to have a good tournament and has grown significantly popular in recent years. It will come as no surprise if he gets a big-money transfer to a prominent club.

Central Defender: Ibrahima Konaté (France)

Konaté was another strong defender across the entire tournament. He did not play in the first two games of the knockout stage, but was inserted back into the team for the semi-final and final and made several great plays across the entire tournament, including a key block in the final to keep the game level.

Right Defender: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)

The Moroccan team was the surprise star of the tournament, and one of their big-name players was a key to their success. Morocco failed to allow a goal to an opponent until the semi-final and Hakimi played outstandingly throughout the entire tournament. He did his defensive duties extremely well and contributed offensively with an assist. He also scored his penalty in the shoot-out against Spain.

Central Defensive Midfielder: Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)

Amrabat was another key to the success of Morocco. Relatively unheard of prior to the tournament, Amrabat hardly put a foot wrong throughout the entire tournament. His defend-first play style significantly helped Morocco pull off a number of surprises throughout the tournament.

Russ mentioned, “I thought he played a big part in Morocco’s success. He was everywhere when he was on the field.”

Central Midfielder: Jude Bellingham (England)

Overall, the young, British midfielder had a good tournament. He dominated the middle of the field in every game that he played in. Bellingham had several key defensive plays and even contributed well offensively with a goal and an assist. He proved why he has been linked with a transfer to a big club for a few years now.

Central Attacking Midfielder: Mohammed Kudus (Ghana)

Despite Ghana going out in the group stage, Kudus was a very entertaining player to watch. He posed a very good attacking threat and had a couple of goals against South Korea, which helped Ghana win 3-2. Although he did not get any assists, he was always wreaking havoc in and around the opposing team’s goal. He also did a good job defensively and is a hot prospect for many clubs going into the next transfer window.

Left Winger: Kylian Mbappé (France)

An absolutely amazing player. Not many words can describe the French talisman’s performance at the World Cup. He had eight goals and two assists and single-handedly kept France in the final with a hat-trick. Mbappé proved that he can play with just about anyone on any stage and he’ll put in a top-notch performance. It is more than likely that this generational talent will win more World Cups in the future to go along with his triumph on the world’s biggest stage in 2018.

Right Winger: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

The GOAT. For as good of a tournament as Mbappé had, Messi was equal to the challenge, if not better. He won his long-awaited first World Cup title in his fifth try. His seven goals were second only to Mbappé and he had the joint-most assists of the tournament with three. He played every minute of every game (as expected) and although he had an arsenal of talent by his side, he still seemed to do everything himself.

Striker: Julián Álvarez (Argentina)

Álvarez was another stand-out debutant from the tournament. Despite playing backup at his club team, he burst onto the scene at this tournament and made a strong case for an increase in playing time at his club. He scored four goals (second most for Argentina), which helped them win the World Cup, and hopefully, he has more success at future World Cups as well.

Colin Russ spoke on Álvarez’s performances, saying, “I thought had a very good tournament. He scored a lot of goals and didn’t miss a lot of chances. He was very clinical in front of goal.”

Here are some awards from the tournament for the best people and memorable moments:

Best Player: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Words can’t describe Messi’s play throughout the tournament. He did everything right and led his team to victory in six consecutive must-win games. He scored a goal per game and got an assist about every other game. His class performances helped solidify his status as the GOAT. Colin Russ mentioned that Messi “didn’t just win the tournament with his team, he nearly single-handedly won it. He had a lot of goals and a lot of assists and led Argentina as the captain to win the world cup.”

Best Game: Argentina 3(4) – 3(2) France

In the late stages of the final, it seemed to be all over. Argentina was cruising and up two to zero. All of a sudden, Kylian Mbappé popped up with two goals in a span of one minute thirty-three seconds to tie the game and send it to extra time. In the second half of extra time, Messi scored just a few minutes in, but once again, Mbappé scored. With just three minutes left in extra time after Mbappé’s third goal to equalize at three a piece, neither team was able to find a late winning goal. The game went into penalties as a result and Argentina scored every penalty that they took, while France missed two. The win gave Argentina their first World Cup title since 1986 and solidified Messi’s place as soccer’s greatest-ever player.

Best Upset: Saudi Arabia 2 -1 Argentina

The road to success wasn’t always easy for Argentina. In their first game of the tournament, they were set to play Saudi Arabia which they were heavily favored to beat. It looked as if everyone’s predictions were going to come true as Messi scored an early penalty to put Argentina ahead after ten minutes. Argentina had the lion’s share of possession and created several chances to extend their lead before halftime, but it remained at one to zero until the break. In the second half, everything changed. An arousing speech by Saudi Arabia’s head coach, Hervé Renard, inspired two quick goals by Saudi Arabian players Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari to flip the score in favor of the Saudis. Despite Argentina’s best efforts to salvage something from the game, the scoreline remained the same and Saudi Arabia won the game.

Best Underdogs: Morocco

Going into the tournament, almost nobody had high expectations for Morocco. Likely only a handful of people had Morocco advancing out of the group stage. Despite the critics and doubt, Morocco went unbeaten in the group, tying their first game to Croatia, then beating Belgium and Canada, to not only advance out of their group but win the group entirely. People still wrote them off as lucky and doubted them against Spain in the first knockout stage game, but a penalty shootout helped Morocco survive. They then played Portugal, as the underdogs again, but proved why they should have been taken more seriously when they won one-to-nothing to advance to the semi-final. Despite losing to France in the semi-final and Croatia in the third-place match, Morocco still exceeded the expectations of many and won over many hearts along their deep World Cup run. Colin Russ said, “their defensive solidity and attacking threat brought them great success at the tournament.”

Most Exciting Group: Group H

On the final day of the group stage, there were three teams vying for second place to advance to the knockout stages. Ghana was in second place in the group, which meant that they controlled their own destiny and a win would seal second place and their tournament would continue. Uruguay was in last place entering the game and was Ghana’s opponent. Despite starting in last, a win for Uruguay would likely send them through as South Korea, who was in third place in the group, was playing against Portugal, who had already clinched first place in the group and a spot in the knockout stage.  Very few people thought that South Korea had what it took to defeat Portugal outright and advance. The games occurred simultaneously being that it was the last game of the group stage, so all of the teams would know their status as their game was going on.

Ghana drew an early penalty in their match, but striker André Ayew had his penalty saved by the Uruguayan goalkeeper, Sergio Rochet. Uruguay looked to be in the driver’s seat when midfielder Georgian de Arrascaeta scored just a few minutes after Ayew’s penalty miss and South Korea were losing by a goal to Portugal. The tide did begin to turn slightly after South Korea scored to level their match at one to one, but de Arrascaeta scored again for Uruguay to make it two to zero and the South Americans were cruising once again. In the late stages of both games, it seemed as if Uruguay would be the team going through. South Korea on the other hand had other ideas. South Korean Striker, Hwang-Hee Chan scored in stoppage time to win the game for South Korea meaning that Uruguay would have to score another goal to go through due to the goals scored tiebreaker. Uruguay’s goal never came although they looked threatening for the vast majority of the game. Even though South Korea lost four to one to Brazil in the first knockout stage game, they gave viewers a memorable moment with their late goal to advance out of their group.

Best Goal: Richarlison (Brazil 2 – Serbia 0)

In the first game of the group stage, Brazil went up against Serbia. The game was scoreless heading into halftime, but Richarlison scored after a quarter of an hour into the second half to break the deadlock. Just ten minutes after he scored his first goal, he had an absolute word class finish with a bicycle kick to make the score two to zero in favor of Brazil. This goal came out of nowhere and took everyone by surprise. It was a truly magical moment on a big stage and will be talked about for years to come. Colin Russ said, “I thought he struck the ball well in an acrobatic fashion leaving the ground and it was placed very well in the corner making it hard for the keeper to come anywhere near it.”

Best Coach: Lionel Scaloni (Argentina)

This is a pretty self-explanatory selection. In just his first World Cup at the helm for Argentina, he took them to the final and help them win their first since 1986. There is no doubt that he will be held in high regard for many years to come and his achievements will not be forgotten.

It is more than likely that the vast majority of people across the globe found a sense of passion and joy in watching the tournament. The tournament amassed a total of 2.75 billion viewers worldwide and the final had 26 million total viewers. The global impact of the tournament can’t be understated and it was great to see fans from everywhere come together.