Sports fans are not used to seeing arguably the world’s premier sporting event take place later in the calendar, but that is precisely when the 2022 World Cup will be played. The tournament that brings the biggest names in the globe to the pitch is usually played in June and July, but the temperature is too hot in the host country of Qatar during that part of the year.
As a result, group play will commence on November 20 when Qatar faces off against Ecuador. In the weeks leading up to the first game, you can check https://www.bovada.lv/sports/soccer/fifa-world-cup/ to place wagers on countries and players that you think will advance through to the knockout stage.
The timing of the tournament should not reduce the level of excitement around the world. With that being said, we’ll take a look at four players who could have a huge impact on the World Cup:
1. Manuel Neuer
There are a lot of high-level goalkeepers around the globe right now, including Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma and Belgium’s Thibault Courtois, but neither player might be as good as Germany’s Manuel Neuer.
The 36-year-old has been a fixture protecting the net for a long time, and the 6’4” super-stopper looks to add one more World Cup title to his name.
Neuer was outstanding during Germany’s 2014 World Cup run, stopping South American powerhouses Brazil and Argentina in their tracks.
Previous iterations of Germany’s roster may have been more talented, however, which means Neuer’s play in goal could be more important than ever. The reliable goalie has over 110 international caps to his name.
2. Son Heung-Min
Fans of the Premier League are extremely aware of the talent Son Heung-Min brings to the pitch. He’s been a dynamic goal scorer at Tottenham for a long time now, winning the Golden Boot last season in a memorable race to the finish as he tied with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
He’s proven that he belongs playing against arguably the best collection of talent in the world.
It will be very interesting to see how Son performs in the 2022 World Cup for South Korea and how his opponents will treat him. He is by far the most accomplished player on the roster and may need to navigate through heavy defensive attention just to get clean looks at the net. If he is able to raise his game and carry South Korea into the knockout stage, his legend will only continue to grow.
3. Kevin De Bruyne
Belgium’s golden generation of footballers were expected to bring the country’s profile in the sport to new heights. The team has knocked on the door of ultimate success in almost every major tournament but just can’t seem to make the big plays when they matter most. Once again, expectations for Belgium to come home with a World Cup victory will be sky-high.
There are a lot of players on the team who will be looked upon to deliver in crunch time, and Kevin De Bruyne might be leading that group.
He’s not old by any stretch at 31 years of age, but it feels like the sporting public has been waiting for him and his teammates to reach the pinnacle of the sport for a decade. As one of the best midfielders in soccer, De Bruyne will be the orchestrator of a team that will look to shed years of disappointment this coming November.
4. Lionel Messi
There are certain players whose greatness transcends the sport and are almost impossible to root against.
Lionel Messi certainly falls into that category, as fans realize that they might not see another player who has the same impeccable touch off of his cleats from inside or outside the box. He has over 770 career goals combining his club and international career.
Messi’s infallible legacy cannot be denied, and his career will be more than complete even if Argentina does not make it that far in the 2022 World Cup.
However, a rise to prominence in what might be Messi’s final World Cup might help take his popularity to new heights and would be a storybook ending for one of the best athletes of all time.
The last time the soccer-obsessed country won the World Cup was in 1986 when they were led by the flamboyant and skilled Diego Maradona.
The 35-year-old is still one of the top players in the world, and he will need to perform well for Argentina to make a run. Another key to their success will be the play of Paolo Dybala, who has built a solid career for himself playing club football in Italy. He spent many years playing for Juventus and has since taken his talents to A.S. Roma as of this summer.
5. Kylian Mbappe
The Frenchman had an excellent performance at the 2018 World Cup, where be scored in final as France won the tournament.
Mbappe has gone on to become one of the best players in the world. He is very talented, fast, and a goal scorer. The 23-year-old will be leading his team along with strike partner Karim Benzema as France will look to retain their World Cup trophy.