Hit or miss? 10 players that will spark and sizzle at the FIFA World Cup

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Christian Pulisic (Getty Images)
Christian Pulisic (Getty Images)

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is only days away from kicking off and fans around the world are flocking to Qatar to see their nations compete for footballs ultimate prize.

And with the world's best players set to battle it out, here are 10 players who you may need to look out for in the 22nd edition of the prestigious tournament.

10. Jamal Musiala (Germany)

Jamal Musiala
Germany's Jamal Musiala challenging Mason Mount

The one who got away from England, teenage sensation Jamal Musiala is heading to the World Cup in fine form, scoring nine goals in 14 games so far in the Bundesliga this season.

At just the tender age of 19, he is already a regular starter for his club, Bayern Munich, and is tipped to be a regular starter for Germany. He possesses unique close ball control and dribbling with his fearless nature is a standout trait. 

Germany do not have at their disposal the squad they once had which had the likes of Philip Lahm and Toni Kroos, who have now retired from international football. However, one would be unwise to rule out Germany in any major tournament, especially with flair players such as Musiala, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane. 

9. Christian Pulisic (United States of America) 

Christian Pulisic
USA captain Christian Pulisic

Affectionately nicknamed 'Captain America', Christian Pulisic heads into the tournament in underwhelming form.

Despite making 13 Premier League appearances so far this season, many of those have been either playing at wingback or off the bench, resulting in a disappointing return of 1 goal so far in the Premier League. 

Despite a poor goal return from Pulisic, he is still held in high regard by American supporters with somewhat unrealistic expectations set for him. The USA have a tough group consisting of England, Iran and Wales. However, it is expected that Pulisic should be able to help lead his teammates beyond the group stage.

8. Virgil Van Dijk (Netherlands)

Virgil Van Dijk
Virgil Van Dijk

As the age-old phrase goes, "attack wins you games, defence wins you titles", and Netherlands may have that in Virgil Van Dijk alone.

The 31-year-old centre back has been ever present in the Liverpool backline, playing every minute in the Premier League this season.  

Despite suffering a near career ending injury in 2020 against Everton, he has settled back into the Liverpool line-up seamlessly and has been an anchor for his club and country.

The Dutch faithful will be hopeful that he will produce a similar defensive form at club level but for the Oranje.  

7. Robert Lewandowski (Poland)

Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski

Poland may not be a nation you may expect big things from; however, striker Robert Lewandowski is someone many expect a lot from.

Dubbed 'Lewangoalski', as a result of his goal scoring prowess, the 34-year-old's powers do not seem to be waning just yet, netting 13 goals in 14 La Liga appearances after securing a move to Barcelona in the summer.  

Despite the muted expectations towards Poland, if they are to spring a few upsets and be dark horses, then expect Lewandowski to be the man to lead the charge.  

6. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) 

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo

In what will be his fifth and likely his final World Cup, Portugal's all-time top goal scorer Cristiano Ronaldo may be slowing down at the age of 37, showing everyone that he is human after all.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has struggled this season for Manchester United, reduced to cameos from the bench and scoring only a solitary goal in the Premier League this season. 

However, despite the struggles he may be facing at club level, the World Cup will be the perfect opportunity for him to show everyone just what he can do and prove the doubters wrong, which he has so often done throughout his lengthy career.  

5. Kevin De Bruyne (Belguim) 

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne

Belgium boasts an impressive attack, with names such as Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Jeremy Doku to name a few.

However, the star man is undoubtedly Kevin de Bruyne.

Arguably the best midfielder in world football, De Bruyne heads into the tournament after a successful first half of the campaign, notching nine assists and three goals in the Premier League this season. 

With many of Belgium's 'golden generation' in their prime now, many have tipped them as one of the favourites, despite their underwhelming performances in recent tournaments.

But De Bruyne and company are hoping to lead the Red Devils to eternal glory. 

4. Harry Kane (England)

Harry Kane
Harry Kane

After winning the golden boot in Russia back in the 2018 World Cup, much is expected from The Three Lions' captain Harry Kane.

Kane heads into the World Cup in inspired form, netting a total of 12 goals in the Premier League this season, bettered only by the machine that is Erling Haaland. 

England are expected to challenge for gold; however, Kane will not bear that burden alone as they have an array of attacking options such as Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling to help bring the trophy home.

3. Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Arguably the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi enters, what could be his final World Cup.

After subpar performances last season for Paris Saint-Germain, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has hit form at the right time, registering seven goals in 13 Ligue 1 appearances so far.  

The World Cup is the only big trophy missing from his array of accolades but Messi will have a strong chance to bring footballs biggest prize back to Argentine soil and emulate the late Diego Maradona.  

2. Kylian Mbappe (France)

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe

After starring and helping his country lift the 2018 World Cup, much is expected from PSG star Kylian Mbappe.

The Frenchman heads into the World Cup in fine form netting 12 Ligue 1 goals this season.

Often dubbed the 'heir' to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's throne, with the world watching, Mbappe can once again etch his name into the history books for Les Bleus. 

1. Neymar (Brazil)

Neymar
Neymar

Often described as one of the finest footballers of his generation, Brazil's talisman Neymar is always expected to deliver on the big stage.

The 30-year-old heads into the World Cup in inspired form, netting 11 goals in 14 appearances in Ligue 1.

With Neymar's style of play, there are always physical challenges against him, and at times, an overreaction from him.

Unlike the previous two World Cups, Neymar will have plenty of help, with teammates Vinicius Junior, Antony, Casemiro and the ever present Thiago Silva.

However, the pressure will still be on the Neymar though, to bring a record sixth World Cup trophy back to Brazilian shores.

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