World Cup 2022 top stars Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Harry Kane are among the big names in Qatar
The World Cup is a showcase for the best footballers on the planet, but Qatar 2022 promises to be a mix of potential finals appearances for a group of iconic stars combined with the emergence of an exciting new generation of talent.
The stage is set for what is likely to be the final World Cup battle between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with Manchester United’s players expected to be 41 by the 2026 tournament.
However, alongside Messi and Ronaldo seeking their first World Cup title, defending champions France will once again be led by Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.
Add the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Neymar, Vinicius Jr., Luka Modric, Harry Kane, Pedri, and Virgil van Dijk to the mix and Qatar is shaping up to be an incredible gem.
Which players will be the World cup 2022 top stars
Kylian Mbappe (France)
Mbappe was brilliant for France as Didier Deschamps’ side sealed the 2018 World Cup, but the PSG star has taken himself to another level over the past two seasons and should be one of the best players for the defending champions.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Talk of Messi’s powers waning has been exaggerated over the past few years, with the mercurial Argentine demonstrating his talent in a deeper role at PSG. All eyes will be on him as he looks to finally add the World Cup to his glittering list of individual and team accolades in what he has already confirmed will be his final World Cup appearance.
Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
De Bruyne will be tasked with finally helping Belgium lose their ‘almost men’ in Qatar, with a star-studded line-up that has consistently underperformed in previous tournaments. However, the Manchester City man will be determined to prove himself as world football’s No.1 midfielder.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Despite a troubled spell at Manchester United, anticipation will still be intense around Ronaldo in Qatar as he competes in a record-equalling fifth final, but Portugal has had to do things the hard way through the play-offs in qualifying. They eventually beat North Macedonia to book their place in the tournament and the 2016 European champions will once again look to Ronaldo’s ability to lead their attack as a huge focal point.
Vinicius Jr. (Brazil)
Despite the pressure of establishing himself as a key player for both Real Madrid and Brazil over the past two years, Vinicius Jr. rose to the challenge magnificently. His partnership with Karim Benzema in Madrid is the most dangerous pairing in Spanish football and his world-class potential could make him one of the star names for Qatar 2022.
Takefusa Kubo (Japan)
At the age of just 21, Takefusa Kubo has made quite a name for himself, emerging as a ‘prodigy’ in La Liga, first at Barcelona and then at Real Madrid. The Japanese midfielder moved to Real Sociedad in the summer transfer window this year (although Real retains 50% ownership in him and can bring him back to the Spanish capital until 2025) and continues to prove the potential those in Asia have always known he had. that he had it. He will likely be a key figure for Blue Samurai and could be poised for a breakout tournament.
Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)
Despite playing a consistent role as Liverpool’s defensive rock, Van Dijk has never made a World Cup appearance for his country. The Dutch are much stronger at the back and in midfield than they have been in recent years and, like Premier League rival De Bruyne, Van Dijk will be looking to cement his mark as one of the best players in his position in world football.
The mercurial Brazilian continues to carry the weight of his country’s hopes on the biggest stage and Qatar 2022 will be no different. The nation will be expecting Neymar whenever he pulls on the jersey and he will be desperate to lead the Selecao to their first World Cup title since 2002. Neymar has not been able to reach the heights expected of PSG in recent times and injuries have not helped, but he remains central to the point of attack for the defeated Copa America 2021 finalists.
La Roja star Pedri is the latest midfielder from the Spanish production line that previously produced Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, and Xavi. However, there are suggestions around Camp Nou that Pedri could one day surpass his Barcelona predecessors as he looks to follow up a fantastic breakthrough at Euro 2020.
Luka Modric (Croatia)
Modrić is likely to follow the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, and Benzema and is likely to call time on his international career after the World Cup, but the 37-year-old midfielder will be determined to lead Croatia to success in Qatar and, despite his advancing years, remains a match for anyone in the world football.
Alphonso Davies (Canada)
Canada qualified for the World Cup for the first time since Mexico in 1986 and did so without their talisman for the final push. Davies was ruled out after suffering from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, following a COVID-19 infection. The Bayern Munich player’s emotional reaction on social media to Canada securing their place in Qatar showed just how much it means to him and he will be desperate to shine on the biggest stage.
Christian Pulisic (USA)
If the USMNT are to go deep in the tournament, they will need their talisman Pulisic to lead them. Chelsea’s playmaker was a dominant force in their qualifying campaign and will be hoping to take his big-game experience at the club level with him to the world stage as part of Gregg Berhalter’s talent-packed roster.
Son Heung-min (South Korea)
Son has proven time and time again during his Tottenham career in the Premier League that he is capable of individual brilliance, scoring some of the most stunning strikes the league has seen. He is equally ruthless at the international level, with over 30 international goals to his name, and will be among the forwards expected to shine in the Middle East.
Harry Kane (England)
England captain Kane will be a key man for Gareth Southgate’s side as the Three Lions looks to bounce back from their Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy. Kane has returned to his best form in the second half of the 2021/22 Premier League season and has started the new campaign in a manner that suggests.
When is the World Cup in Qatar 2022?
The World Cup begins in the group stages on November 20, with hosts Qatar raising the curtain on the competition at the Al Bayt Stadium in their Group A opener against Ecuador.
The first World Cup to be played in winter in the Northern Hemisphere will run until the final at Lusail Stadium on 18 December.
World Cup schedule:
November 20: Opening Ceremony, opening match of Group A (Qatar vs. Ecuador)
December 2: Final group games
December 3-6: Round of 16
December 9-10: quarter-finals
December 13-14: Semi-finals
December 17: Match for third place
December 18: Finals
Who are the best players outside the Qatar 2022 World Cup?
While Messi, Neymar, Kane, and more will all be on the plane to the Middle East, several other star names will have to make do with watching the action from home.
Italy’s shock exit to North Macedonia in UEFA qualifiers means Jorginho, Marco Verratti and the rest of their Euro 2020-winning teammates will not be in Qatar.
Mohamed Salah will also be absent as the Liverpool and Egypt talisman lost their battle with Senegal for a qualifying place in the African region in a replay of the AFCON 2022 final.
The list of confirmed absentees includes other domestic names, with Erling Haaland (Norway), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Naby Keita (Guinea), and Edin Dzeko (Bosnia) all staying home after their countries failed to qualify from their groups.