We have officially reached the end of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Argentina were crowned champions after one of the greatest football matches in living memory, and Argentina legend Lionel Messi was deservingly awarded the Golden Ball, the prize presented to the best player in the tournament.
With the tournament now behind us, we’ve dug into the PFF grades and metrics to identify our Team of the Tournament, the best 11 players in a 4-4-2 diamond formation that features France’s Kylian Mbappé, Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and more.
Goalkeeper: Emiliano Martinez, Argentina
Martinez may not have earned the best shot-stopping grade of the tournament, but he shined brighter than the rest when it mattered most, and his penalty-shootout victories in the quarterfinal and final secured his place here. He was also excellent outside of those, with his spectacular save in the 32nd minute of extra time in the final being one of the most important in football history.
WHAT A SAVE BY EMI MARTINEZ ???? pic.twitter.com/3d4BohBWVt
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 18, 2022
Right-Back: Achraf Hakimi, Morocco
Hakimi was consistently reliable during Morocco’s surprising World Cup run, and he graded well across the board as the only player to grade above 70.0 in seven or more facets. The 24-year-old attempted the most tackles in the tournament (46), and he also managed to contain his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappé for most of the semifinal, something that most defenders aren’t capable of.
Left Center-Back: Josko Gvardiol, Croatia
Gvardiol announced himself on the world stage at this World Cup. The 20-year-old produced many highlights, with a diving header in the third-place playoff capping off a terrific tournament. No one can say that he wasn’t tested, as he won the most 50/50s at the tournament (15), and no player had more clearances (41).
Right Center-Back: Nayef Aguerd, Morocco
The only player on this team who doesn’t consistently appear for his club (West Ham), Aguerd put on one of the most surprising performances of the tournament. His 86.2 tackle grade ranks first among all center-backs, while his 90.4 clearance grade ranks second among all players. His absence due to injury in the semifinal was a significant loss for Morocco.
Left-Back: Theo Hernandez, France
Hernandez is the only player here who didn’t start in his team’s opening match — he was thrust into action just 13 minutes in after his older brother Lucas tore his ACL. Theo made the left-back position his ever since. Outside of a careless challenge on England’s Mason Mount in the quarterfinal, he had a fantastic World Cup. Most notable is his 90.5 crossing grade, which ranks second among all players.
Defensive Midfielder: Casemiro, Brazil
In what may be his final World Cup, Casemiro put on typical performances showing both his defensive and attacking abilities. His 80.1 defending-dribbles grade ranks 10th among all midfielders, while his 88.0 passing grade ranked ninth among all players. His fantastic strike against Switzerland ended up being the difference in a 1-0 victory.
Right Central Midfielder: Jude Bellingham, England
If there is one player who caught the attention of the entire Premier League during this tournament, it is Jude Bellingham. The 19-year-old, who left England to play for Borussia Dortmund two years ago, has impressed in his role as a dynamic midfielder for Gareth Southgate. He is one of only five players with two 90.0-plus grades at the tournament and the only player besides Croatia’s Mateo Kovačić to have one for an attacking facet (91.8 for shooting) and one for a defensive facet (92.1 for tackling).
Left Central Midfielder: Luka Modrić, Croatia
For the second FIFA World Cup in a row, Croatia reached the semifinals captained by the impeccable Luka Modrić. The 37-year-old Modrić proved once again that age is just a number, as he dominated midfield throughout the tournament. He is one of just six players to have attempted more than 500 passes, and he ranks second overall with a 91.9 PFF passing grade. But Modrić wasn’t just active on the ball, as he also ranked first in 50/50 duels (25 duels, same as Argentina’s Enzo Fernández).
Attacking Midfielder: Antoine Griezmann, France
For the past decade, we have come to know Antoine Griezmann as a creative forward whose star has slightly started to fade. In this tournament, Griezmann presented a new side of himself, as he played a crucial role in France’s road to the final. The 31-year-old was found everywhere, both in and out of possession. His versatility is shown in his PFF grades: Griezmann is the only player at the tournament with five grades above 85.0 (passing, crossing, tackling, 50/50 duels and aerial duels).
Right Center Forward: Lionel Messi, Argentina
In his final World Cup match and for the second time this tournament, Messi saw a 2-0 lead evaporate and probably wondered if winning the World Cup was just not meant to be.
Argentina triumphed in the end, but had they not, Messi still would have been the player of the tournament. Any number of grades and metrics could be mentioned. Of his grades, a 95.0 dribbling grade led all players, and his 90.4 passing grade ranked first among all forwards, with his pass for an assist against the Netherlands getting the highest grade of the whole world cup. His 25 chances created led the world cup, with Griezmann’s 22 coming in second.
Left Center Forward: Kylian Mbappé, France
Mbappé did everything he could to give France its second consecutive World Cup trophy. Not only did he score a hat-trick in the final (plus their first penalty in the shootout), he was one of the most active forwards throughout the tournament — he had the highest number of dribbles by a wide margin (74, 31 more than second-place Messi), the second-most crosses (36, Griezmann had 47) and the second-most shots (22, Messi had 31). Unsurprisingly, as he won the Golden Boot, his highest grade is for shooting at 86.5.
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