2022 World Cup Best XI

The 2022 World Cup is in the history books. Argentina took home their first World Cup title since 1986, beating France in penalty kicks after a thrilling 3-3 final. Lionel Messi firmly closed the greatest of all time debate, but an electric tournament from Kylian Mbappé has his trajectory set to be in the conversation.

We’re left waiting for the next edition of the World Cup in 2026, and while the MLS offseason is in full swing, we couldn’t resist taking one last look back at a memorable tournament.

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Voted on by a panel of Ben Wright, Chris Ivey, Jonathan Slape and Andy Simmons, here’s Broadway Sports Media‘s Best XI from the tournament.

Goalkeeper
Emiliano Martínez | Argentina 🇦🇷

The Golden Glove winner was absolutely electric in Argentina’s World Cup-winning run. The Aston Villa man saved two penalties in Argentina’s quarterfinal win over the Netherlands. In the final, he made a stunning save in the final minutes of extra time to deny France a winner, and proceeded to save another penalty in the shootout.

Left Back
Theo Hernández | France 🇫🇷

After replacing his injured older brother just 13 minutes into France’s opening match, Hernández was the best attacking left back at the tournament. He contributed two assists, as well as the opening goal in Le Bleu‘s semifinal win over Morocco, combining well with Kylian Mbappé to give opposing defenders an absolute nightmare.

Left center back
Joško Gvardiol | Croatia 🇭🇷

Gvardiol dominating opposing attackers in his jet black face mask will be one of the lasting images of the tournament. Just 20-years-old, the RB Leipzig defender was arguably the breakout star of the tournament, and will be the subject of massive interest this offseason. Part of a backline that allowed just two goals in the group stage and held Brazil to a single goal in their quarterfinal win, Gvardiol looks set to be a force on the international stage for years to come.

Right center back
Kalidou Koulibaly | Senegal 🇸🇳

Koulibaly is the earliest to exit in our team of the tournament, but the Chelsea defender made a significant impact in his four games. After a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands to open the tournament, Koulibaly was dominant in wins against Qatar and Ecuador, scoring a wonderful volley to get Senegal out of the group.

Right back
Achraf Hakimi | Morocco 🇲🇦

Hakimi has been one of the best fullbacks in Europe for the last several seasons, and he continued that trajectory during Morocco’s stunning run to the semifinals. Morocco allowed just one goal in their five games before falling 2-0 to France in the semifinals. Hakimi was excellent defensively, and his overlapping runs down the right side were a key component to Morocco’s attacking gameplan.

Center midfield
Sofyan Amrabat | Morocco 🇲🇦

The Fiorentina midfield was arguably Morocco’s most important player. He worked incessantly to cover the back four, breaking up attacks and quickly starting attacks with incisive passing. He was vital to one of the best defensive records in World Cup history and the best-ever showing by an African nation.

Center midfield
Luka Modrić | Croatia 🇭🇷

It’s hard to believe it, but Luka Modrić just keeps getting better. The 37-year-old midfielder pulled all the strings for Croatia during their semifinal run, continuing to cement himself as one of the best ever to play the game. After his golden ball win in 2018, Modrić was just as integral to Croatia, who finished in third place. He’s not over, either. Modrić said after the tournament that he wants to keep playing for Croatia in their UEFA Nations League campaign.

Left Midfield
Antoine Griezmann | France 🇫🇷

We shoehorned Griezmann in here a bit; in reality he played in a new-look central role for France, acting almost as a box-to-box no. 8. In addition to excelling defensively, he led the tournament with seven chances created and tied for the lead with three assists.

Attacking midfield
Bruno Fernandes | Portugal 🇵🇹

While Cristiano Ronaldo expectedly stole the headlines, his former Manchester United teammate Bruno Fernandes was the star for Portugal. Fernandes scored twice and finished with three assists, including a brace in a vital 2-0 group stage win over Uruguay.

Right midfield
Lionel Messi | Argentina 🇦🇷

Messi finally has his World Cup, and was the player of the tournament en route to closing the door on the greatest of all time conversation. Messi scored seven and assisted three in a playmaking role for Argentina. He became the first player to score in all stages of the World Cup – group stage, round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and final – capping it off with an all-time great performance in the final. Messi scored a brace in the final, although his best moment was in the buildup to Angel Di María’s goal, flicking a pass through a gaggle of defenders perfectly into Rodrigo De Paul’s stride.

Messi is the best of all time. His 2022 World Cup will go down as one of the best individual performances of all time.

Striker
Kylian Mbappé | France 🇫🇷

As good as Messi’s tournament was, it was all but overshadowed by another spectacular showing from Mbappé. The PSG star took home the Golden Boot with eight goals. His hat trick in the final was the second in World Cup history and the first since Geoff Hurt’s World Cup-winning hat trick in 1966. With France down 2-0, Mbappé scored twice in under two minutes to claw Le Bleu back into the game, and capped it off with an equalizer from the penalty spot in the 118th minute.

Mbappé’s 2022 performance was more than deserving of a win in the final, but he’s already cemented himself as the best player in the game right now. At just 23 years old, he already has 12 goals in 14 World Cup games. That’s as many goals as Pele scored in his career, one behind Lionel Messi, and just four behind Miroslav Klose for the most in World Cup history. He’ll be the favorite to break the all-time record in 2026, where he’ll lead one of the tournament favorites at just 27 years old. He could feasibly still play in another two or three tournaments, and is on pace to go down as one of the very best of all time.


Who stood out to you in the 2022 World Cup? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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