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ESPN FC has released its World Cup Rank placing several new names on the list including Cameron’s Andre Onana, alongside Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly, who has debuted on the list for the very first time.
Wonderkid Bukayo Saka and Spain’s Gavi have also made the historical record with the likes of Aurelien Tchouameni and Germany’s Jamal Musiala.
10. Sadio Mane – Senegal
The Bayern Munich forward is arguably Africa’s leading player, edging out his old Liverpool teammate and Egypt star Mohamed Salah for that distinction, and Mane’s performances for Senegal more than back up his claims to be regarded as his continent’s most important player.
9. Thibaut Courtois – Belgium
The Belgium stopper is widely recognised as the best in the world right now and he’ll have the opportunity to prove that in Qatar. An all-time great, man-of-the-match goalkeeping performance in Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over Liverpool in May.
8. Vinicius Junior – Brazil
Brazil have three slight variations in their formation. Vinicius appears in two, but not in the one that looks most likely in the tough games, where Lucas Paqueta operates as a withdrawn left winger. Even so, he still has a huge part to play in the tournament, if only off the bench. He will hope that by the end of the competition he will have made himself undroppable.
7. Luka Modric – Croatia
A midfield of Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic is a formidable unit and Croatia’s chances of coming anywhere close to repeating their heroics last time out will rest on the trio’s shoulders. You would say that this will surely be his international swansong, but with Modric, you never know.
6. Neymar – Brazil
The pressure will be immense on Brazil’s No. 10, who may well overtake Pele as Brazil’s all-time top scorer during the tournament. He trails well behind Pele in terms of achievement, though, and this will be the World Cup where he is expected to put that right.
5. Robert Lewandowski – Poland
There will be few nations in Qatar whose hopes are pinned so much on one player. That’s not to say Poland do not have other good players, but the reality is none are close to Lewandowski’s level.
4. Lionel Messi – Argentina
This is likely his last World Cup and he’ll arrive in Doha while playing, at 35, some of the best football of his recent career. Messi is obviously critical to Argentina’s success, but, relative to the last World Cup, things are different.
3. Kevin De Bruyne – Belgium
He’s indispensable for club and country, and his ranking of third in the last Ballon d’Or was the highest spot ever reached by a Belgian player. If the Red Devils make a dent in this year’s tournament, then you can bet your house on the fact De Bruyne will be on song.
2. Karim Benzema – France
After winning the 2022 Ballon d’Or, he is ready to make this World Cup count. It is likely to be his last one, so this marks his biggest opportunity to write his name in the competition’s history books.
1. Kylian Mbappe – France
Qatar 2022 will be the World Cup confirmation for the French prodigy; confirmation of his world-class status, of his superstar image, of his superstar talent.
This article was updated 1 year ago