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Famous Soccer Players World Cup 2018


Africa


MOHAMED SALAH

The speedy Liverpool star is undoubtedly Egypt’s talisman. Salah netted a remarkable 71 per cent of the Pharaohs’ goals in Russia 2018 qualifying, scoring in every one of their third-round victories.

MEDHI BENATIA

Powerful, athletic and good on the ball, Benatia is one of the best defenders in Africa.The centre- half’s talents have taken him to European superpowers Bayern Munich and Juventus in big-money moves.

JOHN OBI MIKEL

Nigeria’s captain remains their key man in central midfield. A UEFA Champions League winner with Chelsea, Mikel’s experience, strength and composure will be vital to the Super Eagles in Russia.

SADIO MANÉ

One of the leading players in the continent, Mane became the most expensive African player in history when he moved to Liverpool for £34 million in 2016. His strength, speed and skill make him a major asset to Senegal.

YOUSSEF MSAKNI

The rejuvenated forward was an important figure in Tunisia’s qualifying campaign, scoring some vital goals, including a hat-trick away to Guinea in their penultimate fixture.


Asia


TIM CAHILL

The evergreen Australian forward is seemingly getting better with age, having netted 11 goals on the road to Russia, including several trademark headers. Scorer of one of the most spectacular goals of Brazil 2014, Cahill could become one of the few players to score at four World Cups.

SARDAR AZMOUN

Touted as the heir to Iran goalscoring icon Ali Daei, striker Azmoun has enjoyed prolific form for his country since bursting on to the scene at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. Something of a poster-boy among supporters of Team Melli, the silky-skilled Azmoun plays his club football for Russian side Rubin Kazan.

MAYA YOSHIDA

A cultured and stylish centre-back, Yoshida has been one of the cornerstones of Japan’s team over two FIFA World Cup campaigns. Captain of Japan’s 2012 Olympic Games team, the Southampton-based Yoshida is a handy asset at set-pieces, contributing his share of goals.

KI SUNG-YUENG

Now heading for his third FIFA World Cup, Korea Republic captain Ki has arguably become the nation’s most recognisable footballer. A technically gifted midfielder blessed in all aspects of the game, the Swansea City player has now spent six seasons in the English Premier League.

MOHAMMAD AL-SAHLAWI

Saudi Arabia’s dynamic forward enjoyed the rare distinction of finishing joint-top goalscorer in Russia 2018 qualifying with 16 goals. Fast feet and a rare turn of pace make Al-Sahlawi a genuine star in Saudi football, following his breakthrough campaign for Russia 2018.


Europe


EDEN HAZARD

Speedy, skilful and a master at both creating and scoring goals, Hazard is one of the most exciting forwards in world football. The Chelsea star served up six goals and five assists during Belgium’s impressive qualifying campaign.

LUKA MODRIC

Described recently by Andriy Shevchenko as “one of the best midfielders ever", Modric is certainly among the world’s finest right now. Croatia will be relying on this FIFA/FIFPro World XI member and three-time UEFA Champions League winner to pull the strings at Russia 2018.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN

Denmark’s play-off hero was in inspired form throughout his team’s qualifying campaign. Only Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo could better the midfielder’s remarkable goal haul of 11 in Europe’s Russia 2018 preliminaries.

HARRY KANE

Lauded as a “complete player” by Zinedine Zidane, Kane is now firmly established as one of the world’s leading strikers. The prolific Tottenham Hotspur star scored five times in six appearances for England during Russia 2018 qualifying.

ANTOINE GRIEZMAN

The France forward will be out to make his mark on another major competition, having been top scorer and player of the tournament at UEFA EURO 2016. Griezmann provided four goals and four assists for Les Bleus in the Russia 2018 qualifiers.

TONI KROOS

One of the finest midfielders of his generation, Kroos was a key component in the team that secured Germany’s fourth world title in 2014. He has won the UEFA Champions League with both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

GYLFI SIGURÐSSON

Iceland’s talismanic midfield playmaker has been named his country’s footballer of the year for the last five years running. Sigurdsson supplied four goals and as many assists in the team’s Russia 2018 qualifying campaign.

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

With 16 goals in ten appearances, the Poland captain was the top scorer in Europe’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Lewandowski, hailed as “the best striker in the world” by coach Adam Nawalka, also became his country’s all-time leading scorer during the preliminary campaign.

CRISTIANO RONALDO

Ronaldo is one of the greatest footballers in history. He is the all-time leading scorer for both Portugal and Real Madrid and has been named The Best FIFA Men’s Player for the last two years running.

IGOR AKINFEEV

A six-time Russian title winner, Akinfeev has over 100 caps for his country.He is also the national team’s captain and will be an influential figure as they attempt to impress on home soil.

BRANISLAV IVANOVIC

Serbia’s captain since 2012, Ivanovic recently reached a century of caps for his national team. Having won the UEFA Champions League and three English Premier League titles with Chelsea, he now plays his club football in Russia for Zenit St Petersburg.

SERGIO RAMOS

Ramos is Spain’s second-most capped player and is closing in on Iker Casillas’ all-time record of 167. He also captains La Roja and was a key player in the teams that won two European Championships and one World Cup between 2008 and 2012.

MARCUS BERG

Thriving in the spotlight following the retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Berg has provided power, panache and plenty of goals for Janne Andersson’s Sweden. The Al Ain striker scored eight times during the Russia 2018 qualifiers.

GRANIT XHAKA

Switzerland’s player of the year for 2017, Xhaka is a key man in Vladimir Petkovic’s side. The Arsenal midfielder impressed at Brazil 2014 and will be out to make his mark on another World Cup.


North, Central America and Caribbean


BRYAN RUIZ

An attacking midfielder who can also play as a second striker, Ruiz was a key player in Costa Rica’s run to the quarter-finals at Brazil 2014. The Ticos captain scored three goals in qualifying for Russia 2018.

JAVIER HERNANDEZ

Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer, Hernandez appeared at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, scoring three times during those two global finals. Nicknamed ‘Chicharito’, the forward won the FIFA Club World Cup title with Real Madrid in 2014.

BLAS PEREZ

With over a century of appearances for Panama, the well-travelled Perez offers valuable experience to the Central American side. The forward has appeared in four World Cup qualifying campaigns, scoring 11 goals over that period.


South America


LIONEL MESSI

Considered one of the best footballers in history, Messi has been voted FIFA’s player of the year on five separate occasions. Argentina’s captain and all-time leading goalscorer will be making his fourth World Cup appearance at Russia 2018.

NEYMAR

A FIFA Confederations Cup winner and Olympic gold medallist, Neymar is set to make his second appearance at a World Cup. The Paris Saint-Germain star also won the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup title with former club Barcelona.

JAMES RODRIGUEZ

The adidas Golden Boot winner at Brazil 2014 Rodriguez will hope to provide more goals for Colombia at Russia 2018. Currently on loan at Bayern Munich, the Cafeteros star won two FIFA Club World Cup titles with Real Madrid.

JEFFERSON FARFAN

Although he is now 33, Farfan proved himself to be as important as ever to the Peruvian cause during Russia 2018 qualifying. The experienced forward contributed vital goals, most notably in the win over Paraguay and the play-off victory over New Zealand and is now looking forward to his first World Cup.

LUIS SUAREZ

A prolific striker for club and country, Suarez is Uruguay’s all-time leading goalscorer. A European and world champion with Barcelona, the forward has scored five times at the FIFA World Cup, having starred at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014.