The Top 10 Play­ers to Watch in World Cup 2018

The Top 10 Play­ers to Watch in World Cup 2018

As the 2018 edi­tion of the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Moscow, the biggest stars in world foot­ball take cen­ter stage in the world’s biggest tournament.

We take a look at the play­ers who are poised to take the tour­na­ment by storm.

10. Gabriel Jesus

The 20-year-old is still prov­ing his name in the Pre­mier League, but when it comes to Inter­na­tion­al foot­ball, it’s hard to think of any oth­er young­ster who is as cru­cial for his nation­al side.

The Man­ches­ter City for­ward has already scored 7 goals and pro­vid­ed 3 assists in just 10 games for the Seleção, with all of these goals com­ing the World Cup Qualifiers. 

Jesus is one of the first names on the team sheet for Brazil coach Tite and Brazil’s hopes of a 6th World Cup tri­umph could rest on his com­bi­na­tion up front with Neymar.

Look out for our analy­sis of Brazil’s first group match against Switzer­land on Sun­day 17th.

9. Kylian Mbappe

You would expect the world’s sec­ond most expen­sive play­er to fea­ture on this list – he also dou­bles as the sec­ond-youngest play­er on show in Russia. 

The 19-year-old Paris Saint-Ger­main for­ward is already repay­ing his report­ed £166m trans­fer fee, plun­der­ing 21 goals and 16 assists in his first sea­son in Ligue 1.

Mbap­pé can oper­ate any­where across the front line and scores at a rate of one goal per 169 min­utes at club level. 

Match­es against Aus­tralia, Peru and Ser­bia should pro­vide ample oppor­tu­ni­ty for one of the most high­ly-rat­ed young­sters in the world to add to an already bur­geon­ing goal tally.

8. Timo Werner

Timo Wern­er might only be 21-years old, but he already has the trust of Ger­many coach Joachim Low, who has entrust­ed him with spear­head­ing the attack of the World Cham­pi­on Ger­man side.

Werner’s audi­tion for Germany’s cen­tral strik­ing role was the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup last June, an audi­tion he passed with fly­ing col­ors by fin­ish­ing as joint top scor­er in Die Mannschaft’s vic­to­ri­ous campaign. 

Wern­er aver­ages over a goal every two games for Bun­desli­ga side RB Leipzig and will be look­ing to win the Gold­en Boot in a sec­ond suc­ces­sive inter­na­tion­al tournament. 

7. Har­ry Kane

If Eng­land are to shake off the under-per­form­ers tag in this World Cup, the Three Lions skip­per will have to be on top form.

The Pre­mier League’s most dead­ly strik­er, Kane scored 41 goals across all com­pe­ti­tions in 201718, and at 24-years-old he is approach­ing his play­ing prime. 

Although Dele Alli and Mar­cus Rash­ford are more excit­ing play­ers, Kane is undoubt­ed­ly their most important. 

Kane was under­whelm­ing at Euro 2016 as Eng­land inex­plic­a­bly crashed out to Ice­land in the Round of 16 and he will be ful­ly aware that he needs to trans­late his club form into World Cup goals if Eng­land are to stand any chance of vic­to­ry in Russia. 

If Kane can hit form at the right time, England’s 52-year wait for a World Cup win may come to an end. 

6. Mohamed Salah

Hot off a record-break­ing 32 Pre­mier League goals in 201718, com­men­ta­tors are run­ning out of superla­tives to describe Mohamed Salah’s cur­rent form.

Instru­men­tal in Liverpool’s unex­pect­ed march to the Cham­pi­ons League final, Salah already has 33 goals in 57 match­es for Egypt. 

Giv­en his cur­rent form there’s no rea­son why he can’t add to that tal­ly in Russia. 

How­ev­er, it could be a race to regain full fit­ness due to the shoul­der injury suf­fered against Real Madrid in the con­ti­nen­tal final. 

Not drawn in the tough­est of groups — Uruguay, Sau­di Ara­bia, and hosts Rus­sia await the Egyp­tians — Salah could add more gloss to a remark­able sea­son by spurring Egypt to the knock­out rounds. 

Salah’s 26th birth­day coin­cides with his team’s open­er against Uruguay. What a gift it would be for Egypt to deliv­er a win in their first World Cup match since 1990.

5. Kevin De Bruyne

Bel­gium boast a side full of world-class tal­ent, but Kevin De Bruyne stands out amongst them all.

Majes­tic in Man­ches­ter City’s dom­i­nant Pre­mier League cam­paign, De Bruyne is a pure attack­ing mid­field­er with the abil­i­ty to split any defence with a deci­sive pass.

The 26-year-old led the Pre­mier League in through balls, cross­es, and assists (16) in the 201718 sea­son, earn­ing him a place in both the UEFA and PFA Teams of the Year.

De Bruyne will orches­trate Belgium’s attack and with likes of Eden Haz­ard and Romelu Lukaku in tow, the Red Dev­ils are pre­dict­ed to breeze past Pana­ma and Tunisia before a crunch encounter with Eng­land to round off Group G.

Well-known to foot­ball fans with­in Europe, if De Bruyne can spur Belgium’s gold­en gen­er­a­tion’ to World Cup glo­ry, he could take the step to glob­al­ly rec­og­nized superstar.

4. Antoine Griez­mann

Antoine Griez­mann didn’t make his debut for Les Blues until 2014, but he’s more than made up for lost time since then.

Arguably the jew­el in the crown of a French side stocked with tal­ent across the park, the Atleti­co Madrid attack­er has aver­aged over 20 goals in the past four sea­sons and has been per­son­al­ly con­tact­ed by Lionel Mes­si regard­ing a poten­tial switch to La Liga heavy­weights Barcelona.

No stranger to suc­cess at inter­na­tion­al lev­el, Griez­mann claimed the Gold­en Boot at Euro 2016 and was also named Play­er of the Tournament.

Look out for our analy­sis of France vs Aus­tralia fol­low­ing their match on Sun­day 16th June.

3. Cris­tiano Ronaldo

One of the most dom­i­nant fig­ures in world foot­ball over the past decade, Cris­tiano Ronal­do needs no introduction.

Real Madrid’s scor­ing machine has won it all at club lev­el, but when he led Por­tu­gal to Euro 2016 glo­ry, he cement­ed his lega­cy as one of the great­est foot­ballers in history. 

Group B starts with a crunch encounter against Spain. This match will not only shape the group stand­ings, but also the com­plex­ion of the knock­out rounds. 

Both Ronal­do and Lionel Mes­si are in the argu­ment to be named the best of all time, but should the Por­tu­gal cap­tain lift the only tro­phy Mes­si hasn’t won, will he hold a bet­ter claim to the throne? 

2. Ney­mar

Ney­mar shocked the whole world when he com­plet­ed his move from Barcelona to Paris Saint Ger­main in the sum­mer, but the Brazil­ian is now no longer a cog in the Bar­ca machine, he is the main man in Paris.

This has been the per­fect prepa­ra­tion for a World Cup cam­paign where he holds the hopes of Brazil on his shoulders. 

Brazil breezed through the qual­i­fiers with 10 points sep­a­rat­ing them from sec­ond place Uruguay, and should they con­tin­ue this form, wins against Cos­ta Rica, Ser­bia and Switzer­land will be expected. 

The 25-year old already has 52 goals in 80 games for his coun­try, and will look to avenge the humil­i­a­tion of 2014 where the Sele­cao were beat­en 7 – 1 on home turf by even­tu­al cham­pi­ons Germany. 

1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi’s tro­phy cab­i­net is over­flow­ing with medals, but what the Barcelona star is still miss­ing is a major achieve­ment with Argentina.

Already regard­ed by many as the great­est of all time, Mes­si will be moti­vat­ed more than ever to cement his lega­cy, as at 31-years-old this will almost cer­tain­ly be his last chance to win the World Cup. 

Mes­si is absolute­ly unplayable on his day, it essen­tial­ly boils down to whether he can hit form and com­bine with his team mates. 

The Argen­tine front line of Paulo Dybala, Ser­gio Aguero and Gon­za­lo Higuain should pro­vide no short­age of scor­ing opportunities. 

Should Mes­si lift the tro­phy on July 15, the argu­ment over who is the great­est of all time will be put to bed. 

Make sure you fol­low us on Twit­ter for all the analy­sis on some of the biggest match­es from the group stage.