The World Cup and Football has always largely been considered a team game, although it’s the individuals who will make their marks in Russia. They drive the tickets through the turnstiles and the traffic through the studios to households across the globe.
SportsBet Magazine have assembled our list of the top 50 players for this year’s World Cup, factoring in impact, form and potential for success.
- Igor Akinfeev, Russia
Veteran goalkeeper will need to have a big tournament if the host nation is to progress deep.
- Leroy Sane, Germany
Second-most assists in the English Premier League, and a rising force for a new-look and stacked Germany team.
- Bernardo Silva, Portugal
His main duty will be to create chances for Cristiano Ronaldo. Few are better at doing just that.
- Mario Mandzukic, Croatia
Frustrated at being used out of position by club side Juventus, will have more license in Russia.
- Mats Hummels, Germany
Don’t let that big, strong physique fool you, Hummels has plenty of style and guile to go with his strength.
- Joshua Kimmich, Germany
Mature beyond his years and already part of the furniture for both Germany and Bayern Munich.
- Keylor Navas, Costa Rica
The United States needs no reminding of his abilities. Will be pivotal if Costa Rica is to cause upsets again.
- Romelu Lukaku, Belgium
Powerful, intense and the front man for one of the tournament’s most exciting teams.
- Sergio Busquets, Spain
Long seen as the ultimate team player, he recently surprised many by complaining about not receiving more individual awards.
- Son Heung-Min, South Korea
Best player from Asia and the creative force behind the South Korean team.
- James Rodriguez, Colombia
Still has the potential to be one of the very best despite some ups and downs for club and country.
- Radamel Falcao, Colombia
Colombia’s form tends to mirror his own. Was devastated to miss 2014 tournament through injury.
- Sadio Mane, Senegal
Pieced together a superb second half of the season for Liverpool and fronts an entertaining and skillful Senegal side. Scored in every round of the Champions League this season.
- Gerard Pique, Spain
This will likely be the final international tournament for the talented, ball-playing defensive star.
- Mesut Ozil, Germany
Out of sorts at Arsenal, but still a vital part for Germany and motivated after a poor season.
- Thibaut Courtois, Belgium
Hasn’t had his finest season, but still possesses remarkable poise for a young goalkeeper.
- Ivan Rakitic, Croatia
Lionel Messi is so worried about Rakitic leaving Barcelona he’s ordered club chiefs not to let it
happen. High praise.
33.Emil Forsberg, Sweden
Recently linked with a move to Arsenal thanks to consistently elite play in Germany.
- Dele Alli, England
Still improving and will carry a major burden at the heart of England’s midfield.
- Isco, Spain
No-nonsense midfielder who has evolved into a key cog for both Real Madrid and Spain.
- Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina
Left broken-hearted when his “goal” in the 2014 final was disallowed as Argentina slipped to defeat to Germany.
- Timo Werner, Germany
Should win the battle for Germany’s main attacking spot and has the swagger to pull it off.
- David Silva, Spain
As good as ever, despite personal struggles relating to the health of his baby son.
- Gabriel Jesus, Brazil
Neymar is the man for Brazil. Jesus is the man in waiting. World Cup defenses won’t enjoy facing both of them.
- Edinson Cavani, Uruguay
Scored more goals (10) than any other player in South American qualifying.
- Philippe Coutinho, Brazil
Joined Barcelona in January and did not disappoint, while producing elite performances for Brazil in qualifying. The Magician will be a huge part of Brazil’s campaign.
- Dries Mertens, Belgium
He is 5-7 and 140 pounds of lightning pace and constant energy, with a knack of finding the perfect pass.
- Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Germany
Will get his chance after Manuel Neuer’s injury woes and is an outstanding replacement.
- Marcelo, Brazil
Ridiculous amounts of skill for a left-back and adds an extra dimension to Brazil with devastating forward runs.
- David De Gea, Spain
One of the best goalkeepers in the world and with a point to prove as Spain seeks redemption for 2014.
- Paul Pogba, France
Named best young player of the 2014 tournament, says he wants to be “the boss” this time around. Has a lot to show the World after disappointing so far at Manchester United in a game plan that doesn’t really suit his game.
- Sergio Ramos, Spain
Still fiery, controversial and entirely uncompromising. Has hinted retirement is imminent. Spain will miss him.
- Christian Eriksen, Denmark
Gifted and fearless, he will be given the keys to Denmark’s hopeful campaign in a weak group.
- Andres Iniesta, Spain
Coming toward the end of a glittering career, that included the winning goal in the 2010 final.
- Eden Hazard, Belgium
Seems destined for a summer move away from Chelsea, but first, wants to help Belgium reach its potential.
- Sergio Aguero, Argentina
Knee surgery kept him out of the end of Manchester City’s season but the extra rest might be a blessing.
- Robert Lewandowski, Poland
Top scorer in the Bundesliga and hungry for success with his national team.
- Kylian Mbappe, France
Still only 19, and already the second-most expensive player in soccer history. Big things await.
- Harry Kane, England
Heavy scorer and full of confidence after an excellent campaign with Tottenham. Shoulders England’s hopes.
- Luis Suarez, Uruguay
Sanctioned for biting at the last World Cup, but still one of the most dynamic forces in the business.
- Luka Modric, Croatia
Holds the key for Croatia, a brilliant talent that has played with the best and at the top of his game.
- N’Golo Kante, France
The best defensive midfielder in the world and crucial to France’s hopes of contending for the title.
Fast and fun and a deadly finisher, he was the top scorer at Euro 2016.
The heartbeat of the team for the defending champion and at 28, continues to get even sharper.
6.Paulo Dybala, Argentina
Coming off a pair of big breakout seasons, he is Argentina’s great hope for the future. If he performs alongside Messi, they are a force to be reckoned with.
A master organizer and creator, there may be no smarter player on the planet.
Plays with joy and craft, but is recovering from a foot injury that has kept him sidelined since February. It’s tough to gain fitness in any tournament, but if he’s 100% he can lead Brazil to glory
Coming off a sensational season for Liverpool, and full of energy and enterprise. A joy to watch. An unfortunate injury in the Champions League Final, reports he will only miss 1 match.
Still superb at 33 and hungry for a World Cup title to add to Portugal’s Euro 2016 success.
The Great Man just knows how to win trophies. Enough said.
Unstoppable for most opponents, but still waiting for an elusive major trophy with Argentina.