World Cup: ST’s Team of the Tournament

SINGAPORE – After 64 matches over 28 days featuring more than 800 of the world’s best players, The Straits Times picks the 11 who have impressed the most.


Emiliano Martinez

The Argentinian goalkeeper won the World Cup’s Golden Glove award given to the best custodian. The Aston Villa shot-stopper, who saved three spot kicks at the tournament, including one in the final from Kingsley Coman, also finished joint top of the goalkeeping charts on three clean sheets alongside England’s Jordan Pickford and Moroccan hero Yassine Bounou.


Achraf Hakimi

Going into the tournament as the most recognised player in the Moroccan squad, Hakimi more than lived up to his reputation. The Paris Saint-Germain fullback’s rampaging runs down the right and robust defensive performances have been as memorable as his audacious “Panenka” penalty kick to eliminate Spain in the round of 16.

Josko Gvardiol

The Croatian defender’s stock has only risen in Qatar, despite Lionel Messi running him ragged in the semi-finals. Unmissable in his Zorro-like mask, the 20-year-old RB Leipzig centre back was a gladiator in a defence that conceded just three goals in five matches before the 3-0 defeat by Argentina and looks set to earn a move to a bigger club soon.

Romain Saiss

The Morocco captain was an anchor in the Atlas Lions’ defence that conceded just one goal — an own goal by Nayef Aguerd against Canada — in their first five matches at the World Cup. The Besiktas centre back also popped up with a crucial goal against Belgium in the group stages.


Sofyan Amrabat

The Fiorentina midfielder has embodied Morocco’s fairy-tale run to the semi-finals, combining dexterity with determination in the middle of the park. Earlier this year, Tottenham Hotspur were reportedly interested in the 26-year-old, but after eye-catching performances in Doha, that list of suitors will surely have lengthened.

Luka Modric

The 37-year-old showed no signs that Father Time is catching up with him with exceptional performances at the heart of Croatia’s midfield en route to their third-placed finish at the World Cup. Silky in possession, Modric set the tone for his team and rarely gave the ball away to ensure that they were on top of their opponents.

Enzo Fernandez

The Argentinian midfielder announced himself to the world with performances that were worthy of him winning the tournament’s best young player award. Only 21 years old but the Benfica man was a key player in Qatar where he featured in all seven of Argentina’s matches including Sunday’s final. He was also rounded off his debut campaign with a goal and an assist.

Antoine Griezmann

For most of his career, Griezmann had built a reputation for being one of world football’s best forwards but in Qatar, he was deployed as a central midfielder to great effect. Such was the all roundedness to his game that Les Bleus’ unsung hero made crucial clearances and tackles in the defensive third while being the team’s top assist maker with three.


Bukayo Saka

The 21-year-old scored thrice and provided one assist despite playing just four matches at the tournament. The Arsenal winger has firmly established himself as one of the best young players in the world with his performances in Qatar. His eye-catching display against France was one of the best individual performances at the tournament.

Lionel Messi

The Golden Ball winner was at his mesmerising best and almost single-handedly led his country to their third World Cup triumph. The numbers alone – seven goals and three assists in seven matches – are telling of Messi’s brilliance while the 35-year-old also rolled back the years with some of his dribbling runs in Doha.

Kylian Mbappe

The 23-year-old has been unplayable, scoring eight goals and registering two assists in a string of masterful performances which almost earned him a second World Cup in as many editions. A hat-trick in a World Cup final ensured that Mbappe will have his name mentioned in the same breath as some of the greatest players in the game.

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