After a month of unfolding drama, the World Cup is set to conclude this weekend.
Morocco meet Croatia in the third-place play-off on Saturday before Argentina take on France in the main event on Sunday.
Dream Team World Cup will come to a close with those two fixtures and so let’s preview the climax by reflecting on the best eleven of the tournament to date.
GOALKEEPER: Thibaut Courtois
A real surprise here given that Belgium crashed out at the group stage but their world-class goalkeeper gave a good account of himself during the little time he spent in Qatar.
Courtois claimed Star Man awards against Canada and Croatia, not forgetting a penalty save against the former, to take an early lead among his peers that he hasn’t given up despite his premature exit.
The Real Madrid custodian racked up 28 points in three games.
Dominik Livakovic or Bono could claim top spot with a clean sheet in the third-place play-off, assuming they’re selected.
DEFENDERS: Achraf Hakimi, Harry Maguire, Romain Saiss, Theo Hernandez
Morocco’s No2 has been the best right-back on display this winter, banking 33 points as a key member of an Atlas Lions side fulfilling the role of the overachieving underdog in Qatar.
England have some representation in the form of their cult hero centre-back who headed his way to 31 points before being sent packing by France.
Maguire earned a Star Man award and contributed an assist during a fruitful group stage.
It’s only right Morocco’s captain also makes the cut given the herculean nature of his defensive efforts in the last month.
Saiss played with half a hamstring in the knockout stages and is fully deserving of his 29-point tally.
In theory he could claim top spot among defenders this weekend but the ex-Wolves man will surely sit out having come off in the first half of the semi-final.
Speaking of that semi-final, France’s left-back was the player who dealt the crucial early blow.
Hernandez is far from the most defensively resolute full-back in world football but he has been a constant threat going forward this winter and an 18-point haul in his last outing took his overall tally to 27 – a clean sheet and a 7+ rating in the final would put him top of the pile among defenders.
MIDFIELDERS: Bruno Fernandes, Bukayo Saka, Frenkie de Jong
Many fans expected Portugal’s No7 to be their talisman in Qatar but it was their No8 who stepped up.
Fernandes scored two goals and provided three assists in four appearances before Fernando Santos’ side were upset by Morocco in the quarter-finals.
Still, his tally of 37 points will almost certainly see him finish the campaign as Dream Team World Cup’s top asset in his position.
Next comes a second England representative in the form of Arsenal’s homegrown hero.
Saka scored three goals and was the Three Lions’ best player against Didier Deschamps’ men before he was replaced by Raheem Sterling.
The 21-year-old banked 31 points, over half of which were earned against Iran.
What’s notable is how far off the pace the finalists’ midfielders are in Dream Team World Cup – Enzo Fernandez and Adrien Rabiot are their respective teams’ best assets in the position and they are both nine points short of De Jong, who completes our midfield in this exercise.
The Dutchman earned two Star Man awards in the group stages before he scored a goal against hosts Qatar, accounting for his total of 25 points.
FORWARDS: Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Richarlison
It’s quite revealing that Argentina’s captain is the only one of his compatriots who makes this XI.
In fact, Messi has more than twice as many points as his next-best team-mate having amassed a whopping 65, the most of all players with two games remaining.
The 35-year-old has registered six 7+ ratings, five goals, four Star Man awards and three assists so far – an unbelievable campaign.
France’s No10 is Messi’s closest rival but he’s 14 points shy of his PSG team-mate after two quieter showings in the quarter and semi finals.
And yet the 23-year-old remains the joint-top scorer with five goals after his borderline unplayable displays in the group stage and against Poland in the round of 16.
Brazil’s No9 completes the set having scored three goals and earned two Star Man awards before the Selecao’s elimination at the hands of Croatia, resulting in a points tally of 33.
However, Richarlison may lose his place at the last hurdle with Olivier Giroud (32 pts), Antoine Griezmann (30 pts) and Julian Alvarez (28 points) sniffing around.