Matchday three of the 2022 World Cup delivered some classic matches, incredible goals and clarity over which teams really have a shot of glory.

Every side still had something to fight for (if you count pride in the cases of Qatar and Canada, anyway) and it set up a tantalising final round of group stage matches which didn’t disappoint.

Here are the players who impressed us most.

Harry Symeou hosts Jack Gallagher and Toby Cudworth to look back on Germany ’06 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

GK: Mohammed Al Owais – Saudi Arabia weren’t quite able to keep their dreams of reaching the World Cup knockout stages alive, but Al Owais’ eight saves helped clear Poland’s path to the last 16 (shoutout to Wojciech Szczesny for saving another penalty).

RB: Achraf Hakimi – Remember the criticisms that Hakimi wouldn’t be able to play competently in a back four? He’s been doing quite alright there for Morocco, grabbing an assist last time out.

CB: Kalidou Koulibaly – Leading from the back, the Lions of Teranga’s captain defended excellently and scored the goal which sent them back to the knockout stages.

CB: Josko Gvardiol – Chelsea must be kicking themselves that they couldn’t quite get a deal for the Croatian centre-back over the line in the summer. They’re still in pole position, but RB Leipzig will surely be bumping the price up a little with every top performance he puts in at the World Cup.

LB: Kaoru Mitoma – Japan (and Brighton, for that matter) keep bringing on Mitoma at wing-back, and he keeps delivering the goods for them. His controversial – but perfectly legal – assist helped send the Samurai Blue to the last 16 as group winners.

CM: Luis Chavez – Imagine the rush of adrenaline you would have received if you were a Mexican fan watching Chavez’s sensational free-kick fly all the way in past the near-unstoppable Al Owais. It’s exhilarating to even think about.

CM: Alexis Mac Allister – Two Brighton players? Well, they are massive now, I guess. The ginger Messi spared the real Messi’s blushes after he missed a penalty vs Poland, taking matters into his own hands to break the deadlock and ease the pressure on La Albiceleste.

CM: Ao Tanaka – Two Japan players? Well, they are massive now, I guess. Tanaka’s mix of attacking flair and chaotic threat was a huge reason why they are into the next round of this World Cup.

RW: Marcus Rashford – Even when you factor in Danny Ward was in the Wales goal, Rashford’s brace was still rather impressive. His free-kick may have been bettered by Chavez a day later, but his silky dribbling coming off the right in the lead up to his second was uniquely his.

CF: Kai Havertz – Germany needed a hero to get out of the group and they had one in two-goal Havertz. Unfortunately, they also needed a hero in the red of Spain.

LW: Giorgian de Arrascaeta – After a couple of tournaments of hype, De Arrascaeta finally delivered at a World Cup, scoring Uruguay’s two goals against Ghana. Unfortunately, it was too little too late to save them from elimination.


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