5 players who will shine in the 2018 FIFA World CupBookmark this
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is right around the corner and with the tournament's kickoff scheduled for June 14, it's time to start looking at the main candidates to leave their mark in the biggest tournament in this sport.
Every four years 32 nations across the globe compete for the most coveted title in this sport. The FIFA World Cup, by far the biggest event in football, had its first tournament held in 1930 and this year in Russia, it will be the 21st time a national team will be crowned World Champion. Brazil is currently the nation with most titles won (5), followed by the defending champions Germany (4) and Italy (4). The Italians however, were shockingly left out of the tournament after being knocked out by Sweden in the eliminations rounds this last November. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of strong teams looking forward to reach the tournament's final next July and there are a few players who may very well play a decisive role in their team's campaign. They all are strong candidates to become the World Cup 2018 best player, so let's take a quick look at some of them...
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
Let's start with the obvious! The Portuguese striker will enter this World Cup with his ID card reporting he's 33 years old, but he'll certainly make sure to be in great shape when the tournament starts. After leading his nation to the European Cup title just 2 years ago, winning the World Cup for Portugal in 2018 would be the cherry on top of the cake. It would also allow him to make an even stronger case for the "best player of all-time" debate and that's all the motivation he needs.
In the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Cristiano Ronaldo netted a total of 15 goals for Portugal, only 1 less than Poland's Robert Lewandowski. He's not having a great season at club level, but he certainly won't lack determination for the World Cup.
2. Lionel Messi, Argentina
Most likely the best player in the world these days, the Argentinian find himself in a position similar to his rival Cristiano Ronaldo. A World Cup title is all the Argentinian misses in his long and rich resume and with his 31st birthday happening during the tournament, this is probably his last chance to lead Argentina into becoming World champion for the 3rd time in history.
With 7 goals in the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers games, Lionel Messi helped Argentina securing a 3rd place and a direct entrance in this summer's major tournament. The 30-year old ace only saw one other scoring more than him in South America and that PSG and Uruguay's striker, Edinson Cavani.
3. Neymar, Brazil
After a disappointing World Cup tournament 4 years ago in Brazil, the "Escrete" is now determined to compensate their fans and honor their history by lifting the World Cup trophy next July 14 in Moscow. Their main player is beyond any doubts Neymar Jr., who will be at the peak of his career this next summer at the age of 26.
In the CONMEBOL WC Qualifiers, Neymar scored in 6 different occasions and topped the assists charts with 8 decisive passes. If Brazil manages to go far in this World Cup, then Neymar will definitely have the spotlights turned on him.
4. Eden Hazard, Belgium
The Belgian attacking midfielder will be leading an incredibly talented generation of players next Summer, as Belgium look to impress in Russia and make a strong case in the World Cup title fight against all the big sharks. The Belgium National Team were unbeaten in their whole qualifiers campaign with 9 wins and 1 draw, scoring 43 goals and only conceding 6.
Currently playing for Chelsea FC in England, Hazard has been strongly linked with Real Madrid over the past weeks. If he does perform at his best in Russia, don't be surprised if Florentino Pérez decides to break the bank and snatch him from Abramovich's Chelsea.
5. Antoine Griezmann, France
The Atletico Madrid forward will be the spearhead of France's attack in Russia and certainly hopes to leave his mark as one of the tournament's top scorer. With rumors of a move to either Barcelona or Manchester United increasing by the day, the World Cup could very well end up determining his future.
Griezmann scored 4 goals in France's World Cup qualifiers, helping his nation securing the 1st spot in Group A, ahead of Sweden and the Netherlands. The "French Prince" is expected to play alongside with either Alexandre Lacazette or Olivier Giroud, both currently playing for Arsenal.