- Argentina's World Cup triumph puts La Albiceleste players in contention for 2022 Men's World 11
- Lionel Messi, winner of the Golden Ball in Qatar, is a very strong candidate to make the World 11
- FIFPRO takes a look at other Argentina World Cup winners who could be part of the 2022 all-star team voted for by players
The forecasts for the 2022 FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World 11 changed in the last month and a half of last year. With the assessment period extended to the end of the FIFA World Cup, what happened in Qatar was potentially decisive for the candidates. And so it proved: Argentina’s triumph launched some of its stars into contention for the team of the year.
Lionel Messi, with 15 World 11 appearances behind him and an outstanding first part of the 2022/23 season with PSG, was widely fancied for a place even before captaining La Albiceleste to World Cup glory. FIFPRO takes a close look at other Argentinian players who could receive the votes of their fellow players and be named in the 2022 FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11.
The Aston Villa goalkeeper put in many decisive performances for the world champions, making his presence felt at key moments. Dibu played every minute of the tournament, and although he conceded 8 goals in 7 matches, he won the Golden Glove for his vital saves and starring role in the penalty shoot-outs.
Among his crucial contributions, the most momentous was what some commentators described as "one of the most important saves in the history of the World Cup": his clearance of Kolo Muani’s shot with his left leg in the final. It was the 123rd minute and if that one-on-one had produced a goal, France would have taken a 4-3 lead just seconds from the final whistle.
He also made a miraculous save in the last minute of the 2-1 victory against Australia in the Round of 16, but what will probably be talked about for a long time is his performance in the penalty shoot-outs: he stopped two against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals and one against France, which was vital in Argentina winning the title.
The winner of the Best Young Player award at Qatar 2022 had a meteoric rise from the start of the 2021/22 season, when he returned to the club that nurtured him: River Plate. He played a vital part in Los Millonarios winning the Argentine league in 2021 and his superlative form took him to Benfica in mid-2022.
From the outset he showed his enormous talent, energy and versatility in the Portuguese league and the Champions League, enabling him to play in any position in midfield. He arrived in Qatar with almost no experience in the Argentina national team, having played just a few minutes in a friendly. But after he came on in the second half against Mexico, he immediately became the first choice central midfielder and one of the major figures in the world champions’ team.
He played six matches; five as a starter, and scored one goal (in that very match against Mexico, a candidate for Goal of the Tournament), provided one assist, and achieved a completed pass rate of 87.5 percent. But beyond the numbers, at the age of just 21 — he turned 22 just las month — Fernandez was the heartbeat of the world champions’ midfield.
Angel Di Maria
The winger scored five goals and provided nine assists during the 2021/22 season for PSG, the club he left to join Juventus, becoming French league champion.
But the major highlights of the period recognised by the FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World 11 were his performances for Argentina: he scored a goal against Italy in the 2022 Finalissima for the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions, won by La Albiceleste, and then, of course, the World Cup in Qatar.
At the age of 34 Di Maria played just 288 minutes in five matches because of a muscle injury, but every time he was on the pitch he was a nightmare for opposing defenders. He set up Messi for the all-important first goal against Mexico — after the defeat by Saudi Arabia — and produced a stellar performance on the left in the final against France: he was awarded the penalty that made it 1-0 and also scored the second for 2-0, adding another goal to his tally in finals played in the Argentina shirt.
Julian Alvarez’s explosion as a marksman came just over a year before the world saw him net four times in Qatar and finish third in the 2022 World Cup scoring charts.
Although Alvarez made his professional debut in 2018, it was in the 2021/22 season that he really shone: he scored 18 goals and made seven assists in 22 matches, making him River Plate’s great star as 2021 Argentine league champions.
Manchester City signed him at the beginning of 2022, but he continued with Los Millonarios until mid-year, becoming the first player in the club’s history to score six goals in a single match.
He arrived at the World Cup with the experience he had acquired in a few months at Manchester City, where he scored in all the competitions he played in. In the first two matches he came on as a substitute, but from the third onwards he was in the starting line-up every time thanks to his ability to create space, his energy pressing forward, and of course his goals.
He scored against Poland and Australia, but his greatest achievement was a brace against Croatia in the semi-final.