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FIFA World Cup 2022

In pictures: FIFA World Cup Team of the Week

My Kolkata picks the 11 standout performers from week one in Qatar

By Priyam Marik | Published 26.11.22, 04:38 PM
1/11 Goalkeeper: Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico): The man who always saves his best for the World Cup was at it again against Poland during Mexico’s bow in Qatar. Besides saving a penalty from Robert Lewandowski, Ochoa was there to foil anything and everything that the Polish could conjure inside the penalty area. At 37, this is bound to be Ochoa’s farewell campaign on the grandest stage, and just like before, he is not holding anything back

Goalkeeper: Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico): The man who always saves his best for the World Cup was at it again against Poland during Mexico’s bow in Qatar. Besides saving a penalty from Robert Lewandowski, Ochoa was there to foil anything and everything that the Polish could conjure inside the penalty area. At 37, this is bound to be Ochoa’s farewell campaign on the grandest stage, and just like before, he is not holding anything back

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2/11 Right-back: Angelo Preciado (Ecuador): He may not yet be a household name, but the full-back from Genk was in his element against Qatar. Assured in defence and eager to stream forward at every possible opportunity, he played his part in Ecuador’s second goal of the night with an inch-perfect cross for his captain to head home

Right-back: Angelo Preciado (Ecuador): He may not yet be a household name, but the full-back from Genk was in his element against Qatar. Assured in defence and eager to stream forward at every possible opportunity, he played his part in Ecuador’s second goal of the night with an inch-perfect cross for his captain to head home

3/11 Centre-back: Diego Godin (Uruguay): At 36, many deemed Godin to be the weak link in the Uruguayan defence, but the former Atletico Madrid icon had no problems keeping South Korea in check in his first match in Qatar. Rarely rushed in possession and even more rarely caught out off the ball, Godin should have broken the deadlock with a precise header from a corner had it not been for the width of the woodwork

Centre-back: Diego Godin (Uruguay): At 36, many deemed Godin to be the weak link in the Uruguayan defence, but the former Atletico Madrid icon had no problems keeping South Korea in check in his first match in Qatar. Rarely rushed in possession and even more rarely caught out off the ball, Godin should have broken the deadlock with a precise header from a corner had it not been for the width of the woodwork

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4/11 Centre-back: Toby Alderweireld (Belgium): Even though Canada significantly outshot Belgium and were the superior outfit against their illustrious opponents, the Red Devils held on for a 1-0 win, with a lot of the credit going to their veteran defender Alderweireld. At 33, the centre-half has gained in wisdom what he has lost in speed, which was evident against Canada, as Alderweireld shepherded his backline with supreme composure, making no less than 12 clearances

Centre-back: Toby Alderweireld (Belgium): Even though Canada significantly outshot Belgium and were the superior outfit against their illustrious opponents, the Red Devils held on for a 1-0 win, with a lot of the credit going to their veteran defender Alderweireld. At 33, the centre-half has gained in wisdom what he has lost in speed, which was evident against Canada, as Alderweireld shepherded his backline with supreme composure, making no less than 12 clearances

5/11 Left-back: Jordi Alba (Spain): After a stop-start season at Barcelona, Alba looked much more in his natural habitat in Spain’s opener against Costa Rica. Given full licence to maraud down the left flank, the full-back found Marco Asensio with just the kind of cutback he used to dish up on a weekly basis for Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou

Left-back: Jordi Alba (Spain): After a stop-start season at Barcelona, Alba looked much more in his natural habitat in Spain’s opener against Costa Rica. Given full licence to maraud down the left flank, the full-back found Marco Asensio with just the kind of cutback he used to dish up on a weekly basis for Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou

6/11 Right-central midfield: Dani Olmo (Spain): When your team wins 7-0 and you happen to be an all-action midfielder, it comes as little surprise that you have had a great game. Olmo was no exception in this regard, though he was exceptional in the final third against Costa Rica, especially with his crossing. His feather-like first touch and silky finish that got Spain on their way was a moment of class, the highlight of a superb all-round performance that justifies Luis Enrique’s faith in the 24-year-old from RB Leipzig

Right-central midfield: Dani Olmo (Spain): When your team wins 7-0 and you happen to be an all-action midfielder, it comes as little surprise that you have had a great game. Olmo was no exception in this regard, though he was exceptional in the final third against Costa Rica, especially with his crossing. His feather-like first touch and silky finish that got Spain on their way was a moment of class, the highlight of a superb all-round performance that justifies Luis Enrique’s faith in the 24-year-old from RB Leipzig

7/11 Left-central midfield: Pedri (Spain): Even though he played for less than an hour against Costa Rica, Pedri ran the show for La Roja in Al Thumama. Here are some numbers that bear that out: 92 touches, 89 passes, three key passes, two through balls and a pass success rate of nearly 97 per cent. In other words, a midfield masterclass from the boy wonder of Spanish football

Left-central midfield: Pedri (Spain): Even though he played for less than an hour against Costa Rica, Pedri ran the show for La Roja in Al Thumama. Here are some numbers that bear that out: 92 touches, 89 passes, three key passes, two through balls and a pass success rate of nearly 97 per cent. In other words, a midfield masterclass from the boy wonder of Spanish football

8/11 Right wing: Bukayo Saka (England): The 21-year old livewire from Arsenal tormented Iran’s defence all game long, scoring two goals and looking virtually unplayable at times. Linking up superbly with Harry Kane and Rahim Sterling, Saka was direct, devastating and decisive in England’s World Cup opener, and could even have had a maiden World Cup hat-trick had Gareth Southgate not taken him off on 71 minutes

Right wing: Bukayo Saka (England): The 21-year old livewire from Arsenal tormented Iran’s defence all game long, scoring two goals and looking virtually unplayable at times. Linking up superbly with Harry Kane and Rahim Sterling, Saka was direct, devastating and decisive in England’s World Cup opener, and could even have had a maiden World Cup hat-trick had Gareth Southgate not taken him off on 71 minutes

9/11 Left wing: Kylian Mbappe (France): He may have missed a sitter towards the end of the first half against Australia, but that should not detract from a potent start in Qatar for the man who many believe is the best pound-for-pound footballer in the world. Besides grabbing a rare headed goal for France, Mbappe also set up Olivier Giroud’s record-equalling goal as France’s all-time top-scorer with characteristic wing play, capping off a fine 90 minutes in Al Wakrah.

Left wing: Kylian Mbappe (France): He may have missed a sitter towards the end of the first half against Australia, but that should not detract from a potent start in Qatar for the man who many believe is the best pound-for-pound footballer in the world. Besides grabbing a rare headed goal for France, Mbappe also set up Olivier Giroud’s record-equalling goal as France’s all-time top-scorer with characteristic wing play, capping off a fine 90 minutes in Al Wakrah.

10/11 Right striker: Enner Valencia (Ecuador): The first half of the opening game of the 2022 World Cup was all about one man. After his headed effort from close range was disallowed by VAR, Valencia coolly slotted home a penalty, before making it 2-0 for Ecuador against Qatar with a bullet header. A combination of knee and ankle injuries forced him off on 77 minutes, but not before he had written the first few headlines of the competition

Right striker: Enner Valencia (Ecuador): The first half of the opening game of the 2022 World Cup was all about one man. After his headed effort from close range was disallowed by VAR, Valencia coolly slotted home a penalty, before making it 2-0 for Ecuador against Qatar with a bullet header. A combination of knee and ankle injuries forced him off on 77 minutes, but not before he had written the first few headlines of the competition

11/11 Left striker: Richarlison (Brazil): Up until his first goal against Serbia on 62 minutes, Richarlison had had the fewest touches of any outfield player in the game. In a matter of just more than 10 minutes thereafter, he proceeded to have the two most important ones. First, a poacher’s finish after some elusive dribbling from Neymar and a snapshot from Vinicius Junior. Second, a world-class scissor kick that showed the natural athleticism of Brazil’s gifted frontman

Left striker: Richarlison (Brazil): Up until his first goal against Serbia on 62 minutes, Richarlison had had the fewest touches of any outfield player in the game. In a matter of just more than 10 minutes thereafter, he proceeded to have the two most important ones. First, a poacher’s finish after some elusive dribbling from Neymar and a snapshot from Vinicius Junior. Second, a world-class scissor kick that showed the natural athleticism of Brazil’s gifted frontman

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