1 | Walid Regragui (Morocco)
Regragui’s Moroccan side became the first African side to reach the semi-final before they were dispatched by the French.
What made the Morocco run so incredible is that Regragui only became the manager in August, to which he was mocked as ‘avocado head’.
Hired in the midst of turmoil, with some of the nations biggest stars pledging to never play internationally again.
The Atlas Lions beat multiple top European sides on their march through the tournament showing it was no fluke.
Regragui has a defence-first style which is perfect for success in tournament football, and despite a challenging group, he showed no fear.
“I think Africans can go far, why not dream of winning the cup?”, Regragui told reporters early in the tournament. “We want the next generation to dare to dream.”
The strategy employed repeated huge rewards for the Lions, as they conceded just one goal from open play (up until the French game).
Regragui said that the days of African sides merely being just a fun side which gets eliminated is gone and believes European sides don’t like to see an “African team play cleverly”.
2 | Didier Deschamps (France)
Deschamps guided France to World Cup glory in 2018, and is just one win away from repeating the feat.
Despite having to contend with various injuries to key players, Deschamps has somehow improved his French side.
A brand new midfield with Adrien Rabiot and Aurélien Tchouaméni, has dominated throughout, with a revived Antoine Griezmann ahead of them.
Most importantly however Olivier Giroud is back thanks to the absence of Karim Benzema, and he has been instrumental in the run to the final.
The tactician has set Les Bleus up in a flexible 4-2-3-1, this set up gets the best out of all their stars, which is the hallmark of a top manager.
Deschamps’ main stroke of genius however is the set-up, gets the absolute best out of possibly the worlds best player at this time, Kylian Mbappé.
Win or lose come Sunday, Deschamps has done everything he can for his French team.
3 | Hajime Moriyasu (Japan)
Japan prior to the tournament faced an almost impossible group, with 2010 and 2014 World Cup winners’ in Spain and Germany, both involved.
However Moriyasu made light work of both as the Samurai Blue topped their group with wins over both former champions.
A defensive set up saw Japan beat Spain with just 18% possession and Germany with just 26%, showing well and truly only one statistic in football really matters.
When faced with teams of similar quality, Japan did struggle however, this only widened their reputation of giant slayers.
4 | Zlatko Dalic (Croatia)
Dalic has oversaw arguably the most successful Croatian era in their short history.
Guiding ‘Vatreni’ to the 2018 World Cup final, and this year the semi final, before being bested by Argentina.
Dalic, again like others on this list, set his Croatian side up defensively sound, playing a full 120 minutes plus penalties in both their knockout victories over Japan and Brazil.
However with Luka Modric on his last legs, it is likely that this is the end of this outstanding era in Croatian football.
5 | Graham Arnold (Australia)
Australia looked to be down and out as France swatted them aside in their opening game of the tournament.
However, this was followed by consecutive victories which saw them progress to the last 16, where they unfortunately met Argentina.
A lot can be said for Arnold’s Socceroos that the only loses came at the hands of both finalists.
Arnold had little to work with due to a poor international pool of players at his disposal however set his set up to their strengths which resulted in them having an impressive tournament.
In fact he impressed the Australian football authorities so much that they are set to hand him a stellar new deal.
Jonathan Maze | GWFN