The FIFA World Cup is and always will be regarded as the most prestigious tournament in world football, and with Russia’s 2018 edition at the end of the group stage, for many players, this is the time to make or break history.
There are still four knockout round places to be decided, which of course makes the final round of games extra-exciting.
According to Pele, “…the only way to win is as a team” because “football is not about one or two or three star players.” While we are in agreement with the legend, we, football romantics, also believe that the game – as a whole – also makes a pitch for individual quality to express itself. So, keeping in mind the likelihood of their national teams going far in the competition, here are the top-five star players that we are finding hard to get enough of this 2018 World Cup.
Other than the fact that his trophy cabinet speaks for itself, this man has been terrorising defences for decades! Russia 2018 may be his last chance to win the World Cup, so Lionel Messi, at 31, is definitely more experienced, and determined than ever.
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentine national team.
Born: June 24, 1987 (age 31 years), Rosario, Argentina
Height: 1.7 m
Awards: Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, MORE
Current teams: FC Barcelona (#10/Forward), Argentina national football team (#10/Forward)
Net Worth: $340 M
Did you know: Lionel Messi has the second-most goals scored (100) of all time in the European Cup and UEFA Champions League.
Dreamboat CR7 has put together an all-time performance early in the Cup against rival Spain with his three goals in a 3-3 draw, becoming the oldest player in World Cup history to notch a hat trick. In his second match too, it was his lone goal, though ultimately, which proved enough to give Portugal a 1-0 win.
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro GOIH ComM is a Portuguese professional footballer, who plays as a forward for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Portugal national team.
Born: February 5, 1985 (age 33 years), Hospital Dr. Nélio Mendonça, Funchal, Portugal
Height: 1.87 m
Current teams: Real Madrid C.F. (#7/Forward), Portugal national football team (#7/Forward) Trending
Net Worth: $450 M
Did you know: Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time top goal scorer for the Portugal national football team and has the most international goals among currently active players. As of 25 June 2018, he has scored 85 goals in 153 appearances since his debut on 20 August 2003.
In this World Cup 2018 qualifying, Modrić scored a penalty for Croatia against Greece, advancing to the World Cup and being placed in the group-stage with Argentina, Iceland, and Nigeria. In Croatia’s opening and a winning match against Nigeria, Modrić again successfully executed a penalty kick and was named Man of the Match. He again scored, now with a long-range shot from 23m and was named Man of the Match in the subsequent 3–0 win against Argentina. However, many believe that Russia 2018 might his last chance to deliver on the international stage.
Luka Modrić is a Croatian professional footballer, who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and captains the Croatian national team.
Born: September 9, 1985 (age 32 years), Zadar, Croatia
Height: 1.72 m
Current teams: Real Madrid C.F. (#10/Midfielder), Croatia national football team (#10/Midfielder)
Net Worth: 8 M
Did you know: Modrić has averaged 7.77 in BBC Sport’s Player Rater during the World Cup and has won everything possible at club level for Real Madrid, including the FIFA Club World Cup.
As The Guardian points out, Philippe Coutinho may well be the quiet master in Brazil’s World Cup high drama. It was Coutinho, who broke the deadlock for Brazil against Costa Rica with a 91st-minute goal before Neymar sealed the 2-0 win minutes later. While Neymar does come to attention as the poster boy for Brazil, it is perhaps Coutinho who is actually making the team tick.
Philippe Coutinho Correia is a Brazilian professional footballer, who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger for Spanish club Barcelona and the Brazilian national team.
Height: 1.72 m Trending
Born: June 12, 1992 (age 26 years), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Current teams: FC Barcelona (#14/Midfielder), Brazil national football team (#11/Midfielder)
Net Worth: $85 M
Did you know: Philippe Coutinho is the third-most expensive Association Football transfer (£105 M, from Liverpool to Barcelona in 2018).
He is strong, he is quick and boy, can Hazard dribble! He produced a brilliant finish for Belgium’s fourth goal against Group G rivals Tunisia and we feel his best is just lurking round the corner, waiting to strike when least expected.
Eden Michael Hazard is a Belgian professional footballer, who plays for English club Chelsea and the Belgium national team. He primarily plays as an attacking midfielder and as a wide midfielder.
Born: January 7, 1991 (age 27 years), La Louvière, Belgium
Height: 1.73 m
Current teams: Chelsea F.C. (#10/Forward), Belgium national football team (#10/Forward)
Net Worth: $100 M
Did you know: On June 26, last year, Hazard became a part-owner of expansion North American Soccer League franchise San Diego 1904 FC, set to begin play in 2019, alongside Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow.