There are superstars around every corner at the World Cup, but who is creating headlines at this year’s tournament?
Words by Colin Armstrong
Lionel Messi, Argentina
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is in the discussion when it comes to the greatest player of all time. While compatriot Maradona won the World Cup in 1986, Messi has yet to lift the coveted trophy, though his team came close as runners up in 2014 after losing to Germany in the final to a late Mario Götze goal. The Argentine superstar will be keen to match the achievements of his compatriot and seal his place in football history this summer in what could be his last chance to lift the golden trophy.
Antoine Griezmann, France
Despite having a frustrating season at Atlético Madrid, this Frenchman still managed to score 19 league goals and 29 across all competitions, as the Spanish side finished second in La Liga and won the Europe League title. While his future at the club seems uncertain, Antoine is a talisman for the French national side alongside Paul Pogba, and his form will be integral to Les Blues’ chances of progressing in the competition.
PSG’s Neymar suffered heartache in Brazil in 2014 when injury ruled him out of the competition and he had to watch from the sidelines as Germany skelped Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final. Determined to put things right, Neymar will be carrying the hopes of the South American nation on his shoulders as they aim to retake the title for the first time since 2002 and restore Brazil’s reputation on the global stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
You know his name: he’s a superstar and he can never be overlooked. While Ronaldo’s Real Madrid failed to win La Liga this term, they did make it to the final of the UEFA Champions League where they won the tournament for an unprecedented third-time in a row, defeating to Liverpool. Still, the Portuguese star and UEFA Euro 2016 winner scored 26 league goals and 44 in all competitions, so you can bet he’ll be among the top scorers at the tournament, too.
Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium
Man City’s league-winning playmaker will have a huge impact on Belgium’s chances and is capable of being the best player on the pitch every time he plays.
Robert Lewandowski, Poland
The Polish hitman has been prolific again this season for Bayern Munich with 29 league goals and once again carries the hopes of his country on his shoulders this summer.
Luis Suarez, Uruguay
Barcelona’s frontman has stood out in previous World Cup’s for various reasons, not always for the right ones, but he’ll definitely entertain again this year.
Christian Eriksen, Denmark
Spurs’ midfield maestro can pull the strings in any match and is the star man for Denmark, the Dane could take them into the knockout stages with results against Peru, Australia and France.
Sadio Mané, Senegal
The Liverpool forward is a menace and a goal threat at club level and for Senegal who will rely on the striker when they face the tough task of playing Colombia, Japan and Poland in the group stage.