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The Best Players To Watch Out For at the World Cup

The Fifa World Cup returned for the 22nd time in a span of 92 years and passionate supporters arrived in Qatar across various venues to see their squads compete in the world's biggest soccer tournament. Watch parties all over the world consisting of people who didn’t make the trip also had large gatherings to support their nation. The group stages kicked off on November 20 with 32 nations coming together, but only one can hoist the cup in December. The following are my power rankings of players who are expected to excel in Qatar. 


10, Matt Turner, Goalkeeper, United States:

One of the best young goalies in this tournament. Turner, a former Major League Soccer star with the New England Revolution, had most recently signed a deal with a top premier league juggernaut, Arsenal. Turner has had 425 career saves and is, in my opinion, the best player on this national team. He’s a steadying presence who’ll have to come up big when the Americans are on their heels against opposing attacks. Although fairly young, Turner’s desire for the game has made him a threat to other nations and their star players.


9, Alvaro Morata, Forward, Spain:

While Spain’s midfield engine will always be the center of the team, Luis Enrique’s choice at forward could very well be a deciding factor. For better or worse, Morata has been Spain’s go-to No. 9 for the last few years with 27 goals in 57 appearances, including four goals in 2022. His experience and prowess with the national team could be key to the biggest games. 


8, Bukayo Saka, Midfielder, England:

The Arsenal youngster brings depth and talent to this already stacked squad, but his skill, speed, and intelligence make one to watch as England progresses throughout the FIFA World Cup. Head Coach Gareth Southgate considers him “hugely exciting”, and “a fantastic talent”, and opposition defenders at the World Cup may soon find cause to grudgingly agree. On a team with experienced veterans, Saka proves to be a shining star as England continues on the journey of becoming world champions. 


7, Richarlison, Center Forward, Brazil: On a squad loaded with stars on the pitch, Richarlison has proven to be a dark horse for Brazil. People think of Brazil, they think of Neymar, Allison, and Vinicius Jr, but this guy has stepped up tremendously throughout the group stage action in Qatar. He scored twice in their opener against Serbia, including an acrobatic goal in the 73rd minute. Richarlison might be a difference-maker throughout Brazil’s journey in the World Cup. 


6, Harry Kane, Forward, England: He is England’s iron man himself. England’s captain remains the first name on Southgate’s team sheet, and for good reason. One of the world’s foremost strikers, Kane has already scored more goals in competitive matches and major tournaments than any player in England’s history and is closing in fast on Wayne Rooney’s overall record of 53. Having fired his way to the Adidas Golden Boot in Russia 2018, the Tottenham Hotspurs star is the bookies’ favorite to top the tournament’s scoring chart once again in Qatar.


5, Luka Modric, Midfielder, Croatia: If “resilient” describes Croatia to perfection, the word that best encapsulates their captain Luka Modric’s contributions to football is perhaps infinite. He is the complete package, a multi-talented midfielder with exquisite ball control, adept at winning possession, and also a phenomenal distributor and finisher. Add all these qualities together and you have a footballer who surely deserves his place among the greats of the game. Modric’s many honors include winning The Best FIFA Men's Player award in 2018, which underlined his individual greatness. Croatia is lucky to have such an exceptional talent like Modric. 


4, Robert Lewandowski, Forward, Poland: Two-time The Best FIFA Men's Player, footballer of the year a dozen times in Poland and Germany combined, Bundesliga top-scorer on seven occasions, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Champions League winner, the list goes on and tells you all you need to know about the Poland captain’s storied career. For Poland, he has racked up 132 appearances and 76 goals, both national team records. Yet, there is one thing missing from his resume. In Russia in 2018, which was his only World Cup to date, he failed to find the back of the net as Poland went out in the group stage in only two matches played. The 34-year-old therefore had all the motivation he needed in Qatar to get his name on the World Cup goal-scoring list, scoring once in their last match against Saudi Arabia. Led by Lewandowski, Poland will propel through to the knock-out stage once again. 


3, Kylian Mbappe, Left Winger, France: This wonder kid has started the 2022/23 season in an equally devastating fashion, notching four goals in as many games. A difference-maker on a consistent basis for France since the 2018 showpiece in Russia. Having hit 23 of his 27 international goals in the ensuing period, Mbappe is set to play a pivotal role in his country’s side in Qatar. He has already earned 57 appearances and seems certain to send all of the national-team records tumbling, including the all-time leading scorer tally, which is currently held by Thierry Henry (51 goals). It is well worth noting that, at the same age as Mbappe, the former Arsenal hotshot Henry had found the net just eight times for his country. He even scored in the 2018 World Cup final, catapulting France to a title against Croatia. All in all, he is arguably the best on the team and there is no doubt that France’s journey in Qatar is going to be a long one. 


2, Christiano Ronaldo, Forward, Portugal: Ronaldo is the main man of the country’s so-called “golden generation”. He now finds himself the veteran in a team packed with players who are at, or about to reach, their peak. His ability to worry about any defense remains intact, which is why manager Fernando Santos had him on the pitch for fully 810 minutes during the Qatar 2022 qualifiers, more than any other player in the side, this despite his age. Ronaldo’s list of honors includes practically every competition he has graced, including UEFA EURO 2016 champion. All that is missing is a World Cup winner’s medal. “Winning with Portugal has always been my dream,” he said in an interview with Spanish sports daily. “I’ve won two titles, including the Nations League, and now I want the World Cup. I’ve lifted trophies with every club I’ve played for, but the World Cup is my big dream.” Now at age 37, this is presumably his final ride with Portugal when it comes to the World Cup. It’s now or never as Ronaldo and Portugal's talented squad will move on to the knockout stage in Qatar. 


1, Lionel Messi, Winger, Argentina: Of course, saving the best for last. The World Cup is the one major trophy the Argentinian has never had his hands on. Seven years after coming up just short in Brazil back in 2014, the legendary Messi gained a significant measure of consolation by winning the Copa America, his first title with the senior national team. La Pulga ('The Flea') will now go in search of the biggest title of them all as the icon of a rejuvenated side and still one of the best players in the world, despite the passage of time and the fact he is now midway through his 30s. Though he might lack the pace and stamina he once had, Messi has modified his game and remains a match winner thanks in great part to his ageless left foot. Manager Lionel Scaloni has come up with a system that frees him of all responsibility bar the need to create, a role he fulfills as his side’s main provider and most decisive player. Argentina arrived in Qatar with their least 'Messi-dependent' side since he made his international debut in August 2005, though they can take comfort from the fact that their eternal superhero is as ready as ever to don his cape and come to the rescue. With Messi by their side, Argentina will be a legitimate contender as they move forward in the World Cup.