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World Cup awards: Top players, coaches, goals, moments from FIFA Qatar 2022 as judged by The Sporting News

As the 2022 World Cup draws to an exciting conclusion with the final between Argentina and France, FIFA will be announcing several awards to celebrate the performances of nations and individuals in Qatar.

Honours such as the Golden Ball awarded to the World Cup’s best player, and the Golden Glove which goes to the tournament’s best goalkeeper, will be handed out after the final.

With editorial staff based around the globe, The Sporting News has had experts covering the World Cup from the UK, USA, Australia, Japan, Spain, Argentina, Thailand and Vietnam.

We have collated the votes and observations from 16 staff members to designate the FIFA World Cup award winners, according to The Sporting News.

MORE: Who will win the Golden Ball and the Golden Glove?

Golden Ball: Lionel Messi

In what should come as no surprise, Argentina superstar Lionel Messi was almost unanimously selected by The Sporting News staff to win his second World Cup Golden Ball.

“He responded every time Argentina needed him, be it with a goal, an assist or simply controlling the moments of each game,” TSN’s Juan Estevez said.

TSN’s data editor Nathan Evans feels: “There’s simply no other answer here in truth. France’s Kylian Mbappe comes close, as too does Antoine Griezmann, but neither has had to carry the expectation of entire nation to this World Cup final almost singlehandedly.”

Others in the running:

Fifteen of the 16 votes for the Golden Ball went to Messi, with France’s Kylian Mbappe receiving the remaining vote.

Lionel Messi Argentina World Cup 2022

MORE: Who stats say should be World Cup Team of the Tournament

Silver Ball: Antoine Griezmann

In an extremely close battle with France teammate Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann won the vote for the Silver Ball with eight votes to seven. The votes were essentially split between the two.

“The biggest reason for France’s ability to become a better version of itself in the absence of key players is AG’s stunning transition to a do-it-all No. 8,” TSN’s Kyle Bonn noted.

TSN columnist Mike DeCourcy says: “England spent so much energy on trying to control and contain Kylian Mbappe. And it made sense. But they had no answer for Griezmann, who was a force all over the field, as he has been throughout the tournament.”

Others in the running:

The only other player to receive a vote in this category outside of those two was Lionel Messi.

Bronze Ball: Kylian Mbappe

In an interesting category, Antoine Griezmann received the most votes with five, ahead of Kylian Mbappe (4) and Sofyan Amrabat (4). But with Mbappe receiving so many votes in the Silver Ball section, he is elevated to the top of the Bronze Ball list.

TSN’s Nathan Evans stated: “To potentially walk away with the World Cup Golden Boot at the age of just 23 highlights just how special Mbappe has been at this tournament. His pace, trickery and power continue to mesmerise fans and opposing defenders in equal measure, something that has played a monumental part in France reaching successive finals.”

“Kylian Mbappe once led the Golden Ball race, and while others have overtaken him in the standings, his status as best player in the world not named Lionel Messi remains rock solid,” Kyle Bonn added.

Others in the running:

Single votes were received by Achraf Hakimi, Luka Modric and Azzedine Ounahi.

Golden Glove: Dominik Livakovic

With nine votes, Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saluted ahead of Morocco’s Yassine Bounou, who picked up six votes.

Croatia were not always pretty to watch, but they were as resolute as you will ever see on the world stage, and that was down to their shot-stopper. His back-to-back man of the match awards against Japan and Brazil were the real reason Croatia made the semis, ” Pete Marshall said.

Simon Borg says: Left something to be desired against Argentina, but for the most part showed himself to be the best shot-stopper at the tournament. He’s set himself for a big January move if the right situation (Bayern?) lines up for him.

Others in the running:

France captain Hugo Lloris was the only other goalkeeper to receive a vote.

Dominik Livakovic Croatia World Cup 2022

World Cup best XI (4-3-3)

A representation of the best XI’s compiled by all The Sporting News staff has been included below.

GK: Dominik Livakovic

LB: Theo Hernandez, CB: Josko Gvardiol, CB: Nicolas Otamendi, RB: Achraf Hakimi

CM: Sofyan Amrabat, CM: Enzo Fernandez, CM: Antoine Griezmann

LW: Kylian Mbappe, CF: Julian Alvarez, RW: Lionel Messi

Best Young Player (21 or under): Enzo Fernandez

Enzo Fernandez Argentina World Cup Mundial 2022

In a two-horse race with England talent Jude Bellingham, Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez clinched the honour with eight votes to seven.

“With only three caps to his name coming into the tournament he produced in a high-pressure spot and in a sensitive area of the field, looking like he’d played there forever. Technique, calm on the ball, good decisions, and even a worldie of a goal,” TSN’s Simon Borg said.

Agustin Aboy shared: “Two-and-a-half years ago, he wasn’t even known in Argentina. He was only a good prospect in River Plate’s ranks who had to be loaned to get some first-team minutes. With only three caps for Argentina prior to the World Cup and not even one as a starter, he became an indispensable starter for the finalists.”

Others in the running:

Croatia’s breakout defender Josko Gvardiol was the only other player to receive a vote.

Best Manager: Lionel Scaloni & Walid Regragui

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni and Morocco’s Walid Regragui could not be separated with six votes each.

On Scaloni, Simon Borg said: He was facing the most pressure of any manager coming into the tournament and had serious personnel problems with player injuries and lack of form. He had to remake his starting 11 on the fly, but he had the guts to play Enzo Fernandez, Julian Alvarez, and Alexis Mac Allister.”

On Regragui, Mike DeCourcy noted: “He had almost no prep time and took over a team that had shown up in the U.S. earlier this year with essentially no identity and was beaten 3-0. Less than six months later, Regragui took Morocco all the way to the semifinals, breaking barriers all along the way. No one maximized his team’s ability more.”

Others in the running:

France boss Didier Deschamps received four votes as he took the French team to a second straight World Cup final.

Greatest Moment: Saudi Arabia defeating Argentina

In a category with many different nominations, Saudi Arabia’s shock victory against Argentina was one of the only moments voted more than once.

“Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina was the seismic shock that kicked the World Cup into gear and guaranteed a national holiday for the whole of the Middle Eastern country!” TSN’s Pete Marshall said.

Others in the running:

  • Croatia’s late extra-time equaliser against Brazil
  • Embrace between Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi at semifinal
  • Netherlands’ stoppage-time set-play equaliser against Argentina
  • Japan defeating Spain/Germany
  • Messi’s move against Gvardiol to set up passage to final

Top Goal: Richarlison vs Serbia

The scissors kick goal executed by Richarlison in Brazil’s group-stage win against Serbia is the winner in this category, although there was disagreement over whether the team goal he scored against South Korea was better.

TSN’s Dom Farrell said: “Richarlison just edges out Richarlison into second place. His acrobatic volley against Serbia was special, but the slick passing move against South Korea, that began with the Tottenham forward dribbling the ball on his head and featured centre-backs Marquinhos and Thiago Silva pinging passes in the final third, was a work of art.”

Others in the running:

  • Aleksandar Mitrovic vs Cameroon
  • Miroslav Orsic vs Morocco
  • Neymar vs Croatia
  • Julian Alvarez vs Croatia
Richarlison Brasil Brazil Mundial Qatar 2022 World Cup

Best Game: Argentina vs Netherlands quarterfinal

In a wide open category, the Argentina vs Netherlands clash rose to the top, with the Dutch coming back from two goals down as Wout Weghorst scored a late brace, including a 101st-minute equaliser.

Mauricio Codocea says: “Maybe the best game of what’s already a huge World Cup rivalry. An amazing recovery from the Dutch, a powerful hold by the Argies, unbelievable ending for regular time, emotions during extra time, and penalty drama all wrapped up in one.

Others in the running:

  • France vs. England
  • Serbia vs. Cameroon
  • Japan vs. Germany
  • Portugal vs. Ghana
  • Spain vs. Germany

Most Entertaining Team: Morocco

African surprise package Morocco secured the most votes as most entertaining team at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with several teams earning nominations.

Kyle Bonn said: “While they were far from entertaining in front of net, the African nation left their hearts out on the pitch and played as one cohesive unit, which trumps goalscoring prowess. I would watch Sofiane Boufal, Azzedine Ounahi, Achraf Hakimi, and the rest of the gang any day of the week. What a fantastic show.”

Others in the running:

England, Brazil, France and Japan.

Best World Cup Fans: Argentina

Argentina World Cup fans singing songs

World Cup finalist Argentina was voted as having the best fans in Qatar ahead of Morocco.

Agustin Aboy said: “Despite the economical crisis and being more than 13,000 km away from Qatar, nearly every one of Argentina’s games was crowded with fans that did everything they could to be present for Messi’s last shot.”

Others in the running:

Morocco, Senegal and Japan.

Worst Gaffe: Romelu Lukaku vs Croatia

Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku’s repeated failure to score after coming off the bench against Croatia was voted the biggest gaffe of the World Cup. Take your pick among the failed conversions.

Others in the running:

  • Mat Ryan’s mistake to hand Julian Alvarez a goal in Round of 16 match vs Argentina
  • Harry Kane’s failed penalty against France
  • Referee Mateu Lahoz performance in Argentina vs Netherlands.

Abdullah Anaman
Abdullah Anaman
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