The 2022 FIFA World Cup is finally here. As with every World Cup, the world’s greatest football players gather to put on a show (every four years, to be precise).
With so much talent, we may rank the top 10 Qatar-bound players. Each player represents millions of people, nationalities, and clubs.
10. Vinicius Jr.
Vini Jr. joined Real Madrid after his 18th birthday but took some time to shine. The 22-year-old Brazilian had been earning consistent minutes at Santiago Bernabeu since 2019-20, but it wasn’t until he was 21 or 22 that he showed star potential.
His squad won La Liga and the UEFA Champions League with 22 goals and 20 assists last season. Vini was their second-most valuable player behind Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema.
He’ll play a similar role as PSG’s Neymar for Brazil. This will give Vini space down the left side to make moves and press, which will make things hard for Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon.
9. Luka Modric
Vini’s Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric, 37, defies all aging theories. Modric has played over 1,000 minutes for Madrid despite the additions of Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni. In his 11th year at Madrid, he has five goals and two assists.
With Modric at the helm, Croatia can’t be ruled out.
8. Harry Kane
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane will captain England in Qatar. He’s become the team’s face in recent years. Kane and England had high expectations after Russia (semifinals) and Euro 2020 (final loss to Italy), which is saying something for this football-crazed nation.
Several England players are recovering from injuries before Qatar. England will likely be without Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Kyle Walker, and Kalvin Phillips. It means Kane must score early and often.
Lewandowski’s move away from Bayern Munich was expected to slow him down after all those good years there. Lewangoalski has scored 18 goals in 19 matches for a retooling team in a new league and country. He also has four assists. The 34-year-old did well.
Lewy’s expert boxing is highly hazardous. His lethal finishing will be crucial for Poland’s World Cup ambitions.
Neymar has 15 goals and 12 assists in 19 outings for PSG and might lead this list. Neymar is Brazil’s best hope in Qatar. Despite playing alongside two of the top five players at club level, he hasn’t clicked like this in the past.
The Brazilian superstar will be competing in his third World Cup and is a good bet to win the Golden Boot with the manner in which his team scores (26 in its last seven matches, all wins). Despite the reported dispute with Kylian Mbappé, Neymar seems to be enjoying his football, which is fantastic for Brazil.
5. Kevin De Bruyne
All these players want to play alongside Kevin De Bruyne. KDB improves players’ skills and metrics.
The Belgian puts the ball where goal scorers crave. His passing talent is equaled only by his shooting ability (goalkeepers, shield your eyes).
The Red Devils should win Group F if they can give him similar spacing and Haaland-like finishing.
Since 2007, just two Ballon d’Or winners weren’t Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Karim Benzema has been a game-changer the last three seasons. His knack for clutch goals helps him shine on the biggest stage.
Having won the Champions League for the fifth time with Real Madrid this year, Benzema will aim for his second consecutive World Cup victory. He’s won everything, therefore his teams win easily. With the next man on this list playing down his left side, Qatar shouldn’t be too difficult, though France has shocked us before.
3. Kylian Mbappé
Mbappé was a rising star during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but he’s already among the game’s finest. He’s 23.
He’s too quick, clinical, and accurate with his finishing for almost all tournament defenders, and if anyone gives him space on the flank, it’s curtains. His inside move and shot are lightning-fast. France should win Group D (Australia, Denmark, and Tunisia) and go as far as Mbappé hopes.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
It’s strange to see Cristiano so far down any top-players’ list in 2022. The Manchester United legend has toiled through a turbulent first half of the season.
Ronaldo is Portugal’s all-time best scorer with 117 goals in 191 matches, and everyone knows it. Captaining. Definitely. Aids. Coaching. After the event, he may have done everything on the international stage.
The 35-year-old is going hard if he wants to win a World Cup with Argentina in what is likely his last global competition. As scalding. Leo has 12 goals and 14 assists in 18 matches in his second season with PSG. Good numbers.
Messi’s trophy cabinet is lacking only a World Cup title with Argentina. His team is a heavy favorite to win their group in Qatar, with only South American rivals Brazil standing in their way.
Leo can carry a squad to greater heights, though. After finishing second in 2014, a round-of-16 exit in 2018 was disappointing. 2021’s Copa America win followed. Leo’s club future depends on the World Cup, so he’s putting all his chips on the table—and you wouldn’t bet against him.