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Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Alamy Stock Photo Kylian Mbappe of France (file pic).
# Stars
Do you agree with our World Cup team of the tournament so far?
France’s Kylian Mbappe and others who have stood out.

Wojciech Szczęsny (Poland): A big reason why a less-than-convincing Poland team have made it to the knockout stages, made a brilliant penalty save to deny Lionel Messi and was easily his team’s best player in the 2-0 loss to Argentina, in addition to keeping a clean sheet in the other two matches, standing out in the victory over Saudi Arabia in particular.

Ko Itakura (Japan): The 25-year-old Borussia Mönchengladbach defender has played every minute so far of Japan’s astonishing World Cup journey, shining in the major upsets against Germany and Spain.

Maya Yoshida (Japan): Despite Japan having 27% and 18% possession against Germany and Spain respectively, they managed to win both games, led by a strong, well-organised backline in which the former Southampton player has excelled.

Romain Saïss (Morocco): One of the heroes of a Morocco team that unexpectedly topped their group — the first African side to do so since Nigeria in 1998 — ahead of Belgium and Croatia, while the former Wolves defender also scored the opening goal in the memorable win over Roberto Martinez’s men

Casemiro (Brazil): The 30-year-old has made a big difference in a short space of time since joining Man United recently and looks a similarly integral player against Brazil. His stunning goal earned Tite’s side a late win over Switzerland, while also delivering an assured display versus Serbia as Richarlison’s brace proved the difference. The midfielder’s absence was then keenly felt, as he was rested for last night’s loss to Cameroon.

Jude Bellingham (England): Has consolidated his reputation as one of the best young midfielders in the world. The imposing 19-year-old got the all-important opening goal to settle nerves in the 6-2 win over Iran and has started all of England’s games thus far, emerging as one of their most impressive performers in the 3-0 win over Wales as well.

Gavi (Spain): The 18-year-old announced himself on the international scene with a brilliant volley to cap a magisterial performance in Spain’s 7-0 win over Costa Rica. He was not quite so dominant in the draw with Germany and defeat to Japan, though he still emerged as one of his country’s better performers on both occasions.

Bruno Fernandes (Portugal): Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed the majority of the pre-tournament headlines but it is a current Man United player who has been easily Portugal’s most effective attacker thus far with two goals and two assists as they topped their group to set up a last-16 clash with Switzerland.

Lionel Messi (Argentina): Granted by Messi’s impeccable standards, it has not been a perfect tournament so far, but he still routinely looks the best player on the pitch at 35. Even in their dire loss to Saudi Arabia, he at least got on the scoresheet, while with his team struggling against Mexico, the veteran PSG attacker stepped up when needed most with a goal and an assist. Despite missing a penalty against Poland, he was still a hugely influential presence and key to the win that left Lionel Scaloni’s side feeling relieved more than anything.

Cody Gakpo (Netherlands): Has justified the pre-tournament hype linking him with Man United and Newcastle, with the 23-year-old PSV forward registering three goals in three games for Louis van Gaal’s side. And you certainly get the sense from watching him that there are plenty of bigger days to come for the Dutch star.

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Kylian Mbappe (France): Arguably the most exciting player to watch thus far at the tournament, and is currently joint-top scorer with three goals alongside Gapko, Rashford, Morata and Valencia. With France among the favourites to triumph, it would be a surprise not to see the 23-year-old PSG star bag a couple more between now and the end of the tournament.

Formation (3-4-3): Szczęsny; Itakura, Yoshida, Saiss; Fernandes, Bellingham, Casemiro, Gavi; Messi, Gapko, Mbappe.

Subs: Yassine Bounou (Morocco), Achraf Hakimi (Morocco), Nayef Aguerd (Morocco), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland), Remo Freuler (Switzerland), Ao Tanaka (Japan), Davy Klaassen (Netherlands), Ritsu Doan (Japan), Vinicius Junior (Brazil), Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon), Enner Valencia (Ecuador), Marcus Rashford (England), Hakim Ziyech (Morocco), Alvaro Morata (Spain), Mehdi Taremi (Iran).

For the latest news coverage on the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022, see here >

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