After an unforgettable 2022 World Cup, here is a starting XI of players that may be wanting to forget their lacklustre showings in Qatar.
Worst XI of the World Cup
Worst XI of the World Cup
GK – Wayne Hennessey (Wales)
Many were optimistic that Wales could progress from a Group B that featured England, Iran, and USA, but the Dragons ultimately fell short. Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey started the first two games for Wales and played a part in their disappointing run.
In Wales’ first group fixture against the USA, Hennessey conceded a goal to Timothy Weah in what was the Americans’ only shot on target. In their second group game, Wales were set for another draw against Iran, before the Nottingham Forest ‘keeper came out and misjudged a clearance, which resulted in a straight red card for the rash, last-ditch challenge.
Iran went on to claim a 2-0 win at the death – a result which left Wales on the brink of an early exit. With suspension in the final group game, it was the end of Hennessey’s World Cup after becoming the first player to receive a red card at the tournament.
RB – Alistair Johnston (Canada)
At right full-back is Canada’s Alistair Johnston, who didn’t have a good showing as John Herdman’s side crashed out the group stages.
Many Celtic fans will have tuned in to Canada’s opener against Belgium to see the man the Hoops have agreed to sign in January. Unfortunately, Johnston struggled on the right side of a back three, even picking up a yellow card despite his side taking the game to Belgium. Johnston once again found it difficult, as did the whole Canada side, when they were beaten 4-1 by Croatia in the second game.
The 24-year-old returned to the right side of a back four in the final game against Morocco, but once again, the Canada defence failed to keep the opposition out as the Atlas Lions came away 2-1 winners. All-in-all it was a poor showing from Alistair – highlighted by the measly 6.2 rating on data website, Whoscored.
CB- Boualem Khoukhi (Qatar)
Despite plenty of excitement for the tournament that their nation was hosting, it was a flat and underwhelming performance from Qatar on the pitch.
It’s hard to choose which Qatar players to leave out of this list, after a tournament in which the hosts lost all three of their Group A games and bowed out with just one the one goal to cheer.
At the back, Qatar conceded a whopping seven goals across those three games, with Al-Sadd centre-back Boualem Khouki at the heart of a defence that was out of its depth. Online data site Sofascore gave Khoukhi an average rating of 6.4 across his three games as Qatar slumped out in the groups.
CB- Oscar Duarte (Costa Rica)
Costa Rica’s Oscar Duarte makes up the centre-back duo, after being part of the Costa Rica side that were hammered in Group E.
Duarte started in the opener against Spain, where La Roja annihilated Costa Rica 7-0. Luis Enrique’s side were good but were helped significantly by the poor defending on show by Duarte and his side, with no pressure on the ball or defenders getting tight to attackers, which resulted in a cruise for Spain.
Costa Rica’s second game was much better, grabbing a clean sheet and beating Japan 1-0, before Duarte was once again on the receiving end of a high-scoring game – the 4-2 defeat to Germany.
LB – Bartosz Bereszynski (Poland)
In the left-back slot is Poland’s Bartosz Bereszynski, who had a stale showing in the World Cup for the Central Europeans.
Bereszynski began Poland’s campaign in their opener against Mexico, starting on the right-side of a back three. It was a woeful performance from the Sampdoria man, who won just one of seven ground duels, gave two fouls away, and lost possession 16 times in the 0-0 stalemate, with Sofascore giving Bereszynski a poor 6.4 rating. His second game was better, a 6.8 rating in the 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia, followed by an average performance against Argentina in Poland’s final group game, before being brought off in the 70th minute.
In Poland’s final game, in the knockout rounds against France, it was another poor showing from the full-back, who was booked early in the second half. Overall, it was a rough tournament for the Poland left-back.
RM – Krepin Diatta (Senegal)
With the absence of star man Sadio Mane, the World Cup gave the opportunity for another Senegal winger to make his mark and impress. Unfortunately for Krepin Diatta, the Monaco winger could not give a good account.
Diatta started the first two fixtures against Netherlands and Qatar, before being benched by manager Aliou Cisse after two lacklustre showings. He returned against England but was again unable to have any impact on the game. Sofascore gave his performance against the Three Lions a dire 6.2 which represented his form across the tournament.
CM – Abdulelah Al Malki (Saudi Arabia)
Abdulelah Al Malki takes up one of the central midfield spots after his tournament with Saudi Arabia.
Despite picking up that incredible win over the eventual winners, Argentina, in their first game, Al Malki failed to have a positive impact on the game. The Al-Hilal midfielder had a pass success rate of just 70% and picked up a yellow card in the second half.
The Saudi Arabia defensive midfielder had another shocking performance in the next game against Poland, picking up another yellow card which left him suspended for the final game.
CM – Hassan Al Haydos (Qatar)
Another Qatar man makes up this list, which is no surprise following their dreadful performances on the pitch.
Hassan Al Haydos, who also plays his football for Al Sadd in his native Qatar, captained all three group games in the heart of the midfield for the host nation. The 32-year-old was overrun though and failed to make any sort of impression. In the final group game, the 2-0 defeat against the Netherlands, Al Haydos had a stinker of a game, which earned him a rating of 6.0 on Sofascore.
LM – Steven Bergwijn (Netherlands)
Although he was used a central striker for the Netherlands in Qatar, former Spurs winger Steven Bergwijn deserves a place on this list for his lacklustre performances at the World Cup.
Louis van Gaal’s side had plenty of top talent, with the likes of Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay impressing at times and getting on the scoresheet, Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries bombing forward to look strong down the wings, and Frenkie de Jong an anchor in midfield.
Bergwijn has been in top form down the wings for Ajax this season but was unable to affect the game at all in the four appearances (three starts) that he made – failing to register at least one goal or assist – with his general play offering little going forward.
ST – Lautaro Martinez (Argentina)
Despite picking up a winner’s medal, Lautaro Martinez didn’t have a good showing on the pitch for Argentina.
The Inter strike has been one of the best strikers in Serie A in recent seasons, but he couldn’t translate that into success on the international stage in Qatar, looking a completely different player. Martinez started the first two games for Argentina against Saudi Arabia and Mexico, but after no goals or assists he was dropped by Lionel Scaloni – with his replacement Julien Alvarez being a revelation.
Martinez had to settle for substitute appearances, and by the end, it started to become embarrassing for the 25-year-old, who missed plenty of golden opportunities off the bench. His biggest came in the final, including the free header from six yards out that he managed to direct wide at the death – which summed up Martinez’s humiliating tournament.
ST – Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
After a tournament that will go down in history as the one in which Lionel Messi carried his Argentina side to glory, it won’t be remembered fondly at all by his long-time rival, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo went into the World Cup on the back of that controversial interview in which he took aim at his then-club Manchester United, before later being released by the Red Devils during the tournament. Qatar offered the 37-year-old the chance to put himself in the shop window, now being available on a free transfer, but he wasn’t able to perform.
Despite scoring a penalty in the opening game against Ghana, Ronaldo failed to add to his tally in the next fixture against Uruguay (despite claiming he had a touch on Bruno Fernandes’ cross that went all the way into the far corner). Although Portugal were able to rest players after already securing a place in the next round, Ronaldo put in another poor performance against South Korea in the final group game, with the Portugal number seven taking the majority of the criticism.
That spelled the end of Ronaldo’s run in the starting XI, with Goncalo Ramos coming in to replace him for the next game against Switzerland. The Benfica talent fired in an outstanding hattrick as Ronaldo watched from the bench, with Ramos going on to permanently take Ronaldo’s position.