As we reflect back on the 2022 World Cup, it’s been a tournament full of interesting stories and star performers. The group stage in particular threw up plenty of drama, with the football betting odds difficult to predict throughout.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino called it the best World Cup group stage of all time.
“I have seen all the matches, indeed, and put very simply and very clearly, this has been the best group stage of a FIFA World Cup ever,” Infantino said. “The matches have been of great quality in beautiful stadiums.”
Within that, there were a few players who produced outstanding performances in the group stage of this World Cup. We’ve had a look at five of the best players from the first phase of Qatar 2022.
Where else could we start? Kylian Mbappe set out his stall very early at this World Cup, scoring against Australia as France cruised to a 4-1 win. The Paris Saint-Germain star was central to France’s progression to the last 16, but two well-taken goals against the Aussies got the ball rolling.
That was followed by a crucial brace against Denmark, as Didier Deschamps’ side recorded a vital 2-1 win that confirmed their passage to the next round. Mbappe was a man on a mission, playing the football of his life.
Another goal-getter who enjoyed a fine start to the World Cup was the Netherlands’ Cody Gakpo. The PSV Eindhoven striker is one of the hottest properties in European football, and he proved his qualities in each of the three group-stage matches against Senegal, Ecuador, and Qatar respectively, netting a goal in each.
Gakpo’s displays in the group stage of the World Cup have only served to enhance his reputation further.
From goalscorers to gritty defensive midfielders. Sofyan Amrabat’s dogged performances for Morocco in the middle of the park have garnered plenty of praise from fans and pundits alike. The only goal Morocco conceded was an own goal in their 2-1 win over Canada, and that is a testament to the solid displays of Amrabat, shielding the defence and snuffing out danger.
Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot of speculation that the Fiorentina man could be on the move to one of Europe’s top clubs come January.
Freiburg winger Ristu Doan had only scored three goals for Japan in the whole of his international career before rocking up in Qatar, before notching against both Germany and Spain as Japan recorded two memorable wins which saw them qualify for the last 16 as group winners.
Doan’s tenacious displays brought about much acclaim, and although Japan exited agonizingly on penalties against Croatia, there were a lot of positives to take from their World Cup campaigns.
After an indifferent couple of seasons at the club level, it was looking unlikely that Marcus Rashford would even be on the plane to Qatar with the England squad. However, some solid form for Manchester United this season saw him earn his spot, and he has grasped it with both hands.
Rashford came off the bench to score in England’s 6-2 win over Iran, before playing a starring role in their third match against Wales, scoring two goals including a sensational free-kick.