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Eight players to watch at 2018 World Cup

FE Sports Desk | June 14, 2018 00:00:00

The world's best football players will descend on Russia for the 2018 World Cup beginning today (Thursday).

Some of the planet's most recognisable names - like Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo - will be joined by superstars from six continents hoping to lift the famous trophy.

As it is impossible to list all the great players at the World Cup this year, here is a list of some of the exciting players to watch out for in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Lionel Messi is arguably the best player in the world, and has been named so five times since 2008. But one title has eluded him on his quest to become the best player ever: the World Cup trophy. He led Argentina to the 2014 World Cup finals against Germany but lost 1-0. That's a trend for Argentina: La Albiceleste ("the white and sky blue"), as they are known to loyal fans, lost four straight finals in major competitions, including that World Cup final defeat.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo is Messi's nemesis, for lack of a better word. Since 2008, Ronaldo was named the world's best soccer player the other five times Messi didn't win the award (and came in second the times Messi won).

Ronaldo also wants to stake his claim as the best player ever, and he has an advantage in that he captained Portugal to the European championship in 2016.

Neymar (Brazil)

Brazil is one of the favourites to lift the World Cup trophy - and Neymar is the key man who may lead the Seleção to the promised land.

There is already talk that the 26-year-old striker is better than Messi and Ronaldo, and leading Brazil to the 2018 World Cup title could confirm that his star is ascending as the others' dim. He became the world's most expensive player last year after Barcelona sold him to Paris-Saint Germain for around $262 million. Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Egypt's Mohamed Salah took the soccer world by storm in 2017 and seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the planet's best players.

He'll cap off a remarkable year by leading his country to its first World Cup in 28 years. Salah has fantastic speed, pinpoint passing ability, and unnatural coolness in front of goal.

Kylian Mbappe (France)

Probably the hottest prospect in world football right now, everyone will be hoping to see what Mbappé is capable of in Russia. Having broken all kinds of scoring records on his way through ranks, he signed with Paris Saint-Germain for an eye-watering $224 million. He is only 19.

Mbappé scored 21 goals in 46 appearances for PSG this season, all but upstaging club teammate Neymar. So, second most expensive player in the world - and World Cup winner? This could be the beginning of a legend.

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

If Senegal is to have any chance of competing for the World Cup title, it'll need amazing performances from Sadio Mane. Luckily, Mane churns out amazing performances on a consistent basis.

Sergio Ramos (Spain)

Ramos has been in the headlines recently after his clashes with Mohamed Salah and Loris Karius during the Champions League final, and it is not the first time he has been cast as the villain. The Real Madrid man, described as an "idiot" by Roberto Firmino last week, is the most sent-off player in La Liga history.

Manuel Neuer (Germany)

He played just 360 minutes for Bayern Munich last season because of a second metatarsal fracture, but Neuer - who only recently returned to first-team action - is one player worth gambling on. The Bayern and Germany No.1 has rewritten the goalkeeper's handbook in recent years.

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