Goalkeeper: Emi Martínez (Argentina)
Bono and Dominik Livakovic can count themselves unlucky to miss out. Ultimately Martínez came through in the big moments for the winners. There was the last-gasp save against Australia, shootout heroics against France and the Netherlands, and a huge stop to deny Randal Kolo Muani in the last minute of extra time in the final.
Right-back: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Partly for that insouciant winning penalty against Spain. But also for the excellent defending and adventurous forward runs. No right‑back was superior to Hakimi, who even forced France into a tactical switch in the semi-final. Morocco have a star on their hands.
Centre-back: John Stones (England)
An admission: this is partly because it felt wrong to have as many Moroccans as Argentinians. Apologies to Nayef Aguerd and Romain Saïss. Still, Stones had a very strong tournament. He was calm and classy at the back for England, who kept three clean sheets in five games, and performed well against France.
Centre-back: Josko Gvardiol (Croatia)
The best centre-back in the competition is destined for greatness – and a big move sooner rather than later. It is easy to see why Chelsea want to sign Gvardiol from RB Leipzig. Do not be fooled by his tricky encounter with Lionel Messi; focus instead on the 20-year-old’s reading of the game, interceptions, toughness and confidence on the ball.
Left-back: Noussair Mazraoui (Morocco)
It’s surprisingly difficult to find candidates to play at left-back. Raphaël Guerreiro? Not quite. Théo Hernandez? Not after his performances against Argentina and England. So it has to be Mazraoui. The only quibble is that he got injured before the quarter‑finals. Before that the 25‑year‑old was exceptional.
Central midfield: Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco)
The driving force of Walid Regragui’s brilliant underdogs. Amrabat never stopped running, never stopped pushing and produced the tackle of the tournament on Kylian Mbappé. It could convince Tottenham to renew their interest in the Fiorentina player.
Central midfield: Alexis Mac Allister (Argentina)
This was going to be Jude Bellingham, who was sensational in most of England’s games. It also could have been Luka Modric, who helped Croatia to third place. But did you see how beautifully Mac Allister weighted his final ball for Ángel Di María’s goal in the final? Nervelessness and quality on the biggest stage.
Central midfield: Antoine Griezmann (France)
It was a shame that Griezmann fell below expectations in the final. It was unlike him. He is such a clever player and shone in a new No 10 role, particularly when he unbalanced England. A lot of youngsters should look at the elusive positions Griezmann takes up, his unselfishness and the efficiency of his output.
Right wing: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Centre-forward: Julián Álvarez (Argentina)
The champions were far more dynamic after replacing Lautaro Martínez with Álvarez. The Manchester City forward worked tirelessly off the ball, did Messi’s running for him and chipped in with four goals. He is one of the breakout stars of the World Cup – assuming that can be said of someone who plays club football alongside Erling Haaland.
Left wing: Kylian Mbappé (France)
It is pretty staggering that he scored a hat-trick against Argentina and still ended up on the losing side. And that he finished with eight goals. And that he’s scored 12 times across two World Cups. And that he has four goals in two finals. And that he turns 24 on Tuesday. Scary.
Subs to complete a 26-man squad Dominik Livakovic (Croatia), Bono (Morocco), Nahuel Molina (Argentina), Romain Saïss (Morocco), Cristian Romero (Argentina), Marcos Acuña (Argentina), Luka Modric (Croatia), Jude Bellingham (England), Enzo Fernández (Argentina), Bukayo Saka (England), Azzedine Ounahi (Morocco), Jamal Musiala (Germany), Cody Gakpo (Netherlands), Harry Kane (England), Ángel Di María (Argentina).
Manager Lionel Scaloni (Argentina)