Croatia friendly vs Mexico

Every World Cup, there are players who stand out. Some are rising stars just bursting onto the scene, others are established veterans leading their team to glory.


We’ll take a look at a few who could be major factors in their nation’s success at this tournament. Just as a note, I am avoiding the bigger players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. If you don’t know who those guys are or why they’re important, good luck.


With that, here are a few key players at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.


Neymar | Forward | Brazil

Players to Watch at the 2018 World Cup -



Photo: USA TODAY Sports

I know I said I would be avoiding huge players, but this World Cup will be a shot at redemption for Neymar. After fracturing a vertebra in his spine with a gruesome injury in the quarterfinal in 2014, he was forced to watch Brazil suffer its worst defeat in nearly 100 years in the semifinal against Germany. He has a chance to return Brazil to glory in Russia, and adding a World Cup to his trophy cabinet would cement him among the best players of all time.


Mohammed Salah | Forward | Egypt

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Players to Watch at the 2018 World Cup -



Photo: Goal.com

Salah was a huge part of Egypt’s successful qualifying run, scoring five goals in the final round. He also had an incredible year on the domestic side, scoring 32 goals in Liverpool’s Premier League campaign and leading the club to the UEFA Champions League Final. However, an early injury in that final match forced him to be subbed off and put his availability for the World Cup in question. Egypt is cautiously optimistic he will be ready for the opening match, and their success will be closely knitted to Salah’s performance in the tournament.


Antoine Griezmann | Forward | France

Players to Watch at the 2018 World Cup -



Photo: the18.com

His 2014 World Cup was not very noteworthy, but Griezmann had a big showing at the Euro 2016 tournament. He scored six goals and had two assists to claim the golden boot and was named Player of the Tournament for leading France to the final. He has consistently scored more than 25 goals for the past four seasons with Atletico Madrid and is poised to lead a star-studded France on a strong run in Russia.


Ivan Rakitic | Midfielder | Croatia

Players to Watch at the 2018 World Cup -



Photo: USA TODAY Sports

The veteran midfielder enters this World Cup with a bit of a chip on his shoulder with his national team suffering some unceremonious early defeats in the Euros and World Cup. He has been a key player for Barcelona these past four years, leading the club to four-straight Copa del Rey titles, three La Liga championships, and a Champions League title to cap off a treble in 2015. He will play a huge role in leading Croatia out of a competitive Group D and has the chance to steal the top spot in the group away from Argentina.


Kevin de Bruyne | Midfielder | Belgium

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Players to Watch at the 2018 World Cup -



Photo: USA TODAY Sports

A free kick specialist for both club and country, De Bruyne is a playmaker in the truest sense of the word. He is a bit of a talisman for the Belgians, who have never lost when “KDB” has scored. He had a good showing in his first World Cup in 2014, scoring the opening goal in Belgium’s 2-1 extra time defeat of the United States in the Round of 16. He also showed well at Euro 2016 and helped his country to an undefeated qualifying campaign this World Cup cycle.


PRIDE MATCH: JUNE 29 vs. FC DALLAS

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