The group stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will draw to a close on 2 December. This World Cup has been as exciting as any with a great deal of exhilarating action, plenty of pleasant surprises and upsets.
Several teams and players have stepped up to the task and produced clutch performances. At the same time, some have crumbled under pressure and failed to deliver on the big stage. The World Cup is the biggest stage in world football and it's a great opportunity for players to prove themselves.
A number of top players weren't in great form heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, some of these players have returned to their best at the tournament.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five footballers who have been back to their best at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
#5 Richarlison (Brazil)
Richarlison copped a big-money move to Tottenham Hotspur from Everton this past summer. However, the move has not worked out to the 25-year-old's liking just yet and he is yet to score a Premier League goal for his new club after making 10 appearances. But he does have three assists to his name in the league.
When Richarlison was deployed as Brazil's striker in their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener against, it wasn't a decision that was widely welcomed by fans. Despite creating a lot of chances in their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener against Serbia, goals seemed to elude Brazil.
That was until Richarlison stepped up and produced the goods for Tite's side. While the first goal showed his predatory instincts, it was the second one, an acrobatic effort from a half-chance, that really forced the world to stand up and take notice.
Richarlison is expected to go onto have a major impact for Brazil in the rest of their games.
#4 Alvaro Morata (Spain)
Spain's lack of a prolific goalscorer was viewed as one of their major problems heading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup. La Roja silenced their critics by beating Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening match of the group stages. Alvaro Morata was used as a substitute in that game.
He missed a couple of half-chances immediately after coming off the bench. But Morata redeemed himself by producing an assist for Gavi's goal before scoring his side's seventh goal of the game. He was once again used as a substitute in the game against Germany.
Morata made some really good runs in behind the defense after coming on and produced a brilliant finish to put his side ahead. The 30-year-old produced a lovely close-range header to score Spain's only goal in their 2-1 loss to Japan in their final group game.
With three goals and one assist in three appearances, it looks like it's safe to say that Morata is back to his best.
#3 Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
Despite having quite a talented squad, Morocco weren't exactly fancied to advance from Group F, which also had Croatia, Belgium and Canada. They've ended up topping the group after winning two and drawing one of their three games.
Hakim Ziyech's form has gone a long way towards making Morocco a force to be reckoned with at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Ziyech is currently out of favor at Chelsea and has started just two games in all competitions so far this season for the Blues.
Ziyech produced chance after chance for Morocco in their 2-0 win over Belgium. He had a goal ruled out by VAR but produced a top-notch assist and was inarguably the best player on the pitch.
The 29-year-old produced a brilliant 35-yard chip to open the scoring for Morocco against Canada. Ziyech looked dangerous and capable of creating chances every time he got on the ball as well. He has definitely proved a point thus far at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
#2 Marcus Rashford (England)
We've seen the signs this season. After an utterly disappointing 2021-22 season where his contributions dwindled as he recovered from surgery, Marcus Rashford seemed to eventually be getting back to his best this term.
He has scored eight goals and has provided three assists in 19 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United so far this season. However, Rashford was still a way away from becoming a starter for England.
In England's 6-2 trouncing of Iran, Rashford came off the bench and turned on the style. It was an impressive cameo from him and should have started against USA in the following game. Gareth Southgate's decision to bench Rashford backfired as England struggled to create chances in their 0-0 draw against the USA.
He trusted Rashford to make a difference in the pivotal game against Wales. The Manchester United forward delivered with aplomb. A spectacular free-kick and a brilliant solo effort earned him a brace and he was the standout performer for the Three Lions on the night.
There was confidence in his stride and a lot of zip in his movement and dribbling. The 25-year-old's return to form has been one of the stories of the 2022-23 season so far.
#1 Bruno Fernandes (Portugal)
Bruno Fernandes has been effective for Manchester United this season. But he has not exactly been at his best or his sharpest in recent times. That seems to have changed now as Fernandes has been Portugal's standout performer by far at the 2022 FIFA World Cup so far.
Fernandes produced two magical defence-splitting passes in Portugal's 3-2 win over Ghana in their group stage opener. He then scored both goals as Portugal beat Uruguay 2-0 to seal a place in the knockout stages with a game remaining.
If he kicks on like this, Fernandes will be a top contender for the Golden Ball at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.