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 2017⁄18, 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 2017⁄18, 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 2017⁄18 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?
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.
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