…and it all begins tomorrow. The day, the football fraternity becomes one whole big family of lovers and haters. I present to you the 5 players who might not get a chance ever again to win the World Cup.
5) Mohammad Salah:
Football has always been about the Europeans and the South Americans. Europe gave us the game. South America energized it. The closest anyone else could get were in 1930 and 2002 with US and South Korea making it to the Semis. Although Ivory Coast never made it through to the knockout, we all know how Didier Drogba changed the face of the country.
Salah’s form for club and country has been phenomenal this season and it will be a dream for the Egyptians to get past the likes of Uruguay, Russia, and Saudi Arabia into the knockout stages. We’ve rarely seen a one-man army burgeon in the finals, and the question remains, ‘does Egypt have enough to supplement Salah to reach the knockout stages of 2018?’, because everything remaining constant, we never know whether Salah will again get a chance to play the World Cup as Egypt needs to qualify consistently for the finals to achieve that feat.
4) Marco Reus:
People believe that Germany’s World Cup 2014 squad was one of the best squads to have been ever involved in a major FIFA tournament since its inception. They are wrong. Germany never had a natural winger apart from Schurrle. But now they have. They have the hankering desire of Marco Reus this time around. The unluckiest German footballer of this generation finally gets a chance to prove himself wrong.
Phillip Lahm was 30 when he captained last time. Cristiano Ronaldo was 31 when he led Portugal to glory in Euro 2016, Franz Beckenbauer was 28 when he won the World Cup in 1974. Whether Marco Reus can help Germany defend the title at the age of 29 is yet to be seen, but an appearance in this World Cup is the least this volatile, erratic talent deserves.
3) Blaisie Matuidi:
A “fierce and strong tackler” as they say, Matuidi offers way more structure to his game than that. A mixer of Makelele and Vieira, who can replicate passes that of Laudrup, Matuidi is the most important player in this French squad. Deschamps’s side has arguably the best attacking side in this world cup, but mind you, they are still the most inconsistent side amongst the elite teams. Midfield will be their biggest forte with Pogba and Kante to comprehend Matuidi. This will be the last World Cup which will witness the most underrated midfielder of our generation in action and going into WC ’18 as one of the favourites.
The question remains, can France prove themselves to be the biggest hit of this World Cup? Or will Zinedine Zidane replace Didier Deschamps right after this tournament?
2) Thiago Silva:
On 8th July, 2014, all Brazilian supporters were shattered after the Selecaos suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in a World Cup against Germany. That day two of the most important Brazilian players were not on the field. One was of course Neymar after suffering an injury. The second was Thiago Silva, arguably the most complete defender of our time. Some doyens reiterated the fact that Neymar’s absence hurt them badly, but as a neutral I always thought if Silva was eligible that day, it could’ve been a whole different story.
Silva happens to be one of those characters whose elegance is always overshadowed by an unbolted star player in the forward line. This Brazil side is fresh and hungry and has the potential to replicate the lost art of Jogo Bonito, but they need Silva at the back to enjoy the orchestra. And he is the one to deserve it above all. Although he won the Confederations Cup in 2013, a World Cup is all that matters.
1) Cristiano Ronaldo/Lionel Messi:
In my list, I’ve covered an Egyptian Messi and a German Ronaldo, but facts be facts, there can be only one Lionel Messi and one Cristiano Ronaldo. Hands down, the two most consistent footballers of our generation.
I mentioned about Marco Reus, a player who in his prime can be devastating, a player who just has an edge when it comes to talent over Cristiano. But what made Ronaldo what he is today? Sheer hard work, and the belief of becoming the best. That is what hard work, practice, passion and a fighting spirit can do to you – a right winger operating as a striker these days for the most luxurious club in the world. So what adds to the already mentioned traits? Instinct and finishing. Can the Portuguese replicate the glory achieved at Saint-Denis a couple of years back in his last World Cup is yet to be seen.
I’ve never had the luxury to witness Beckenbauer, Baggio or a Laudrup play, but I’ve seen Lionel Messi and his footballing art. An art of ball control, vision, dribbling, and composure. A style of soccer that defines the beautiful game. Messi is undoubtedly the most talented player of our generation and definitely deserves the World Cup at least once in his playing career. This might also be the last time we see him play in a FIFA tournament as the situation with the players and the Argentine board intensifies. A heads up, the last time Argentina won a FIFA tournament, was when a shabby looking 17-year-old stood up for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in ’05. His name was Lionel Messi.
Who do you think will win the World Cup? Comment Below.