The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious tournament in world football, and with Russia’s 2018 edition commencing less than 24-hours, many players will be seeking to write their names in the history books.
Pelé and Diego Maradona are vastly considered the greatest two footballers of the 20th century, with both players leading their nations Brazil and Argentina respectively to stardom at the mundial.
With players hoping to push their national teams going far in the competition, here are the top 10 playmakers to look out for in the 2018 World Cup:
#10 – Eden Hazard (Belgium)
The dark horses of the tournament, Belgium has always been a surprise in the league. In the team, Eden Hazard, who is known for his swift dribbles where he can run past his entire opposition and score goals single-handedly. Hence, we hope Eden would surprise everyone with his performance.
#9 – Paulo Dybala (Argentina):
Paolo Dybala is so talented, but many argue that the 23 year old has refused to step up his game. A favourite with Juventus fans, he is yet to stake a claim for International greatness. Argentina has been in desperate need for a new hero to emerge out of the blue and help them get out of their current miserable state. He almost missed the cut altogether for the mundial. Will Dybala be their man, come Russia 2018? Messi is ageing, Dybala must step in now.
#8 – Kevin de bruyne (Belgium)
The Belgian midfielder has established himself as one of the world’s top talents since joining Manchester City from German club Wolfsburg in 2015. He has gained himself a reputation as a playmaker providing the assists to drive City to the 2018 Premier League title. De Bruyne is yet to make a mark on the International stage, although he did try a thing or two in Euro 2016. This could be his break-out year.
#7 – David Silva (Spain)
David Silva who is also considered as ‘Spanish Messi’, will be one of the most popular players to watch out in this FIFA World Cup 2018, Russia. David Silva has always been playing a vital part in some of the crucial matches and helped Spain to win big titles. Hence, Spanish faithful will be hoping Silva can use his experience having already won the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and the Euro Cup in 2012. Can Silva shake off the in-house tension enveloping La Furia Roja’s coaching set-up to deliver what could be his last hurrah in a World Cup? Millions of Spanairds, would be counting on the little magician to turn the hand of the clock
#6 –Antoine Griezmann (France)
His pace and skill makes him a tricky footballer for the opponent defenders to control and it is no surprise that he has scored 25 goals or more in the last four seasons with Atletico. Griezmann plays more of a creative role for France, scoring 20 goals in 51 matches with his best performance coming in Euro 2016 where he was top-scorer with 6 goals. His attacking partnership with Olivier Giroud can prove to be the deciding factor in Russia for Le Bleu.
#5 – Toni Kroos(Germany)
Considered as one the best players in the 2014 World Cup, he was the most important man in Germany’s midfield. Toni Kroos played a vital role to make Germany the World Champions in Brazil. Notably, 28-year-old has won it all, at both club level and international football. It would be interesting to see Toni Kroos on Russian field do it again four years on.
#4 – Philipe Coutinho (Brazil)
He plays both for Brazil and Barcelona as an attacking midfielder or winger. Known for his dribbling ability, pace, technical skills, accuracy in passing, and agility, the two-footed player has made 350 appearances and score the total goals of 79 goals both at the club and international level. He has participated in a various tournaments including the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Copa do Brasil, Coppa Italia etc. Coutinho no doubt will add fire to an already talented Brazilian team.
#3 – Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
There’s so much expectation from Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah at the World Cup. After all, Salah is one of the finest football players who always been showing his skills on the ground and also his tactics. He is currently the CAF player of the year as well as the Arab player of the year. Having single-handedly qualified Egypt for their first mundial since 1990 and emerged the highest goal scorer in England this season, the 26-year-old footballer will definitely be making this world cup memorable with his outstanding game. Comfortable on both wings and as an arrowhead, many hope Salah can shake off his shoulder injury to deliver a memorable impact for soccer-mad Egypt. Miracles do happen!
#2 – NeymarJr (Brazil)
Football is a religion in Brazil and Neymar is the chosen one. The 26-year-old is set to guide PSG in the UEFA Champions League, as the main man. Neymar is one of the finest footballers of the world having a record of 52 goals in 80 games, but an injury cupped while playing for club side PSG in February kept the silkysidelined till this month. He made a fantastic come back by scoring a wonder goal against Croatia in a friendly two weeks ago. That is surely bad news for opposing teams, as Neymar on his day can send many a team into grieving mode. Neymar broke the OLYMPIC CURSE in 2016 by scoring the decisive penalty goal against Germany in the football final in Rio; can he restore a nation’s pride badly damaged in 2014? We’ll find out!
#1 – Lionel Messi (Argentina)
What else can we say? Lionel Messi has been terrorising opposing sides for almost a century! He makes football look so easy. Time and again Messi has always been proving himself as a saviour of FC Barcelona. The 30-year-old football star will be motivated more than ever he has ever been throughout his glorious career, as Russia 2018 will almost certainly be his last chance to win the World Cup. He has won everything in club football and International youth football; U-20 World Cup and Olympics. He narrowly missed out of the 2014 World Cup trophy – no thanks to Germany. He is the life and soul of the Albiceleste and has to banish all his International demons to not only help Argentina win their third trophy but also join the ranks of Pele, Maradona and Zidane as one of the world’s greatest. WILL MESSI DELIVER?