These players were outstanding performers in the first round of the tournament.
FIFA World Cup 2022 has been some story so far, from underdogs stepping up to big boys getting thrashed. It has been one of the most exciting group stages ever.
The group stage has seen the likes of Germany, Belgium, & Uruguay take the flight home. While some of the Asian & African teams have touched new heights. France, Brazil, Argentina & Portugal have all lost a game in the group stage. Only England & Netherlands are the two top teams who have been unbeaten so far.
We have witnessed 48 group games in just 13 days. The last two weeks have been some spectacle for the world. The quality of football has been top notch and we have already witnessed a few clashes that will go down in history.
It is time for the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup 2022. But, before we head into the business end of the tournament let’s have a look at the team of the group stage for FIIFA World Cup 2022.
FIFA World Cup 2022: Team of the Group Stage
Goalkeeper: Wojciech Szczesny (Poland)
The Polish shot-stopper was sensational throughout the group stage. He might have conceded twice on the final match day but prior to that, he was on another level. Szczesny saved all shots that were on target prior to the Argentina fixture.
The Juventus No. 1 saved two penalties at the grandest stage of them all. He denied Messi from the spot. The former Arsenal keeper has helped his nation progress to the Round of 16 after 36 long years.
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Right-Back: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Against all odds, Morocco have qualified for the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup 2022. The important part is that they have topped their group and were one of the few teams that went unbeaten in the group stage. Being table toppers in a group that consists of Croatia and Belgium is some achievement.
Achraf Hakimi has been one of the main reasons Morocco has achieved such great things at Qatar 2022. The PSG full-back has been a sensation on both ends of the pitch. He has been brilliant at right-back, not only with his defensive duties but by being an attacking threat all throughout the matches.
Centre-Back: Thiago Silva (Brazil)
With Thiago Silva leading their backline, Brazil did not face a shot on target in the group stage (Courtesy: ESPN)
When it comes to Thiago Silva, age hasn’t had any effect on his quality. Silva has been sensational in the centre of defence for Brazil. He has featured in the first two fixtures and kept a clean sheet in both games. While he might have slowed down a touch but he has got wiser in terms of positioning and timing his tackles.
Brazil might have lost on the final match day but it wasn’t their first XI. They are still one of the favourites for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Going ahead into the knockout rounds, it will get tougher and Brazil will depend on the veteran Chelsea defender.
Centre-Back: Marquinhos (Brazil)
While he might not be in the limelight but he has been flawless so far. The PSG skipper has played alongside Silva for ages and the duo is one of the best CB pairings in the world. Marquinhos goes about his business without making any fuss. He has been sensational on the ball as well as off it. The Brazilian defender has been a constant aerial threat and has won the majority of the aerial duels.
Left-Back: Luke Shaw (England)
Luke Shaw has gone from reviving himself at Manchester United under Erik Ten Hag to cementing his spot in the English XI at the FIFA World Cup 2022. Shaw has been sensational down the left flank with his ball distribution as well as defensive duties. His attacking contribution has been top-notch. United’s full-back has been a constant threat from out wide.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Team of the Group Stage
Defensive Midfielder: Casemiro (Brazil)
The World Cup might have reignited the fire in Casemiro, who now seems to be back to his best. ‘The Tank’ has been rock solid at the heart of Brazil’s defence. He has hardly taken a step wrong throughout his time on the pitch.
The former Real Madrid man scored a world-class volley into the top right corner to help his team reach the knockout rounds with a game in hand. While the flair might be the centre of attraction in a Brazil XI but football pundits and fans across the globe know the importance of Casemiro in this XI.
Central Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)
Bruno Fernandes has been the man for Portugal at the World Cup with two assists and as many goals. The Manchester United midfielder has been the X-factor in the Portuguese side. While all the focus has been on Cristiano Ronaldo for different reasons, Bruno has ensured that his team finish top of the group and head into the Round of 16.
His overall game has been spot-on, he has been the most creative player on the team and lately, he has been scoring a few as well.
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Central Midfielder: Enzo Fernandez (Argentina)
Enzo Fernandez has been a huge prospect ever since his move to Benfica. The 21-year-old has had a sensational FIFA World Cup 2022. He started off as a substitute but eventually made it into the playing XI. The young Argentine has dominated the midfield and has stepped up when it mattered the most.
Enzo scored a stunner for Argentina against Mexico after coming on as a substitute. The goal helped Argentina survive an early exit. In the very next match, the young midfielder made it into the starting XI. He has had some impact so far and it won’t be a surprise if he becomes a main stay in this Argentina side.
Right-Wing: Cody Gakpo (Netherlands)
Gakpo scored in each of the three group stage matches (Courtesy: @OnsOranje/Twitter)
Gakpo has been the talk of the town for a while. He has attracted huge interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe. It is pretty much clear why Manchester United want to land the PSV forward in the January window itself.
Cody Gakpo has been on fire while leading the line for the Netherlands in the World Cup. The 23-year-old striker has scored in all three of their group-stage matches. If the Netherlands are to go on and create history in Qatar, they will need Gakpo firing on all cylinders.
Left-Wing: Kylian Mbappe (France)
Mbappe has picked up from where he left off in 2018. The young French man is a big contender for the Golden Boot. He already has three goals to his name and would be looking to add to his tally in the knockout rounds.
The PSG forward was sensational in the first two fixtures of the group stage helping his team secure a ticket to the knockouts early. His absence from the starting XI on the final match day was felt by the French team as they lost against Tunisia.
Striker: Enner Valencia (Ecuador)
Enner Valencia started off the World Cup in the best possible fashion. The Ecuador forward scored twice on the opening match day. He further added a goal to his tally in the group stage. He has finished the group stage as the joint-top scorer in the World Cup.
Unfortunately, his World Cup has ended as Ecuador could not make it past the group stage. The 33-year-old was disappointed with how things ended for his nation but he will surely be proud of his efforts. Valencia was a threat with the ball under his feet, off the ball as well as in the air. It was a complete centre-forward performance by him.
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