On Thursday 14th June, Russia will kick off their Group A game against Saudi Arabia to launch the 21st FIFA World Cup, and over the next 31 days, some of the best players in the world will go head to head in a feast of football that will capture the imagination of fans all over the world. This year’s competition promises to be even more exciting than usual with a number of teams having a genuine chance to lift the golden trophy.
The World Cup is often the arena in which legends are created, and has produced some truly memorable moments throughout the last 88 years, as the likes of Pele, Maradona, Cruyff and Beckenbauer have displayed their prodigious talent on the biggest stage. This year should see more stars created. Here are four players to watch this summer.
Like Germany, Spain and Brazil, France appear to have a conveyor belt of young talent, which is one of the reasons why many football punters who bet on Stakers are backing Didier Deschamps’ side to go all the way in Russia. One of their most exciting young stars is striker Ousmane Dembélé, who earned a big-money move to Barcelona last summer and forms part of a deadly attacking line-up alongside Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé. Dembele’s mesmerising dribbling skills could be one of the highlights of the summer.
Liverpool have played some scintillating football this season, and of their exciting attacking trio, it is Mohamed Salah who has most impressed. Currently duelling with Harry Kane for the Premier League golden boot, Salah’s blistering pace and lethal finishing have made him one of the stars of English football, and having helped Egypt to return to the World Cup for the first time since 1990, he has the opportunity to show what he can do on the big stage.
The retirement of seven-tournament veteran Miroslav Klose after the 2014 World Cup left Germany in need of a pure goalscorer, but with their depth of talent, they didn’t have to look too far. RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner was one of the stars of the Germany side that lifted the Confederations Cup in 2017, and has already scored ten goals in seven appearances for the national side, making him one of Europe’s most sought-after strikers.
Uruguay have been overlooked by many pundits, but they qualified for the World Cup without too much difficulty and their campaign was built on a rugged defence, which includes Gastón Silva. Able to operate as a centre-half or a left-back, he is part of a back line that also includes Diego Godín and José Giménez, and will have a crucial role to play if Uruguay are to progress and go close to emulating their predecessors of 1930 and 1950.
These are just four of the hundreds of top-class footballers who will grace the World Cup stage this summer in what should be one of the most exciting tournaments ever. We can’t wait for the action to get underway!