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FIFA World Cup - Players to watch

2022 FIFA World Cup - Who are some of the stars to watch at the tournament?

November 14, 2022 By Michelle Bonsu
With the World Cup less than one week away, Live Soccer TV takes a quick look at some of the star players looking to make their marks in the competition.

It's hard to believe it, but the World Cup is less than one week away. The 22nd iteration of the world's most famous footballing competition will kick off on Sunday, November 20th as hosts Qatar face Ecuador, but many fans will be looking forward to the other huge games that will be taking place shortly after.

With 32 teams taking part, there are naturally a plethora of stars getting involved. For some of these players, this will be their last World Cup, and with that in mind, they definitely will be giving it their all in the hopes that their teams can go as far as possible.

It's impossible to include every single player in this short list, so for selection purposes, all players born in 2000 and later have been excluded in favor of those with more experience on their CVs. In short, there are no players born in the 21st century included in this group.

Without further ado, here are some of the big names fans will be looking to help inspire their sides at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

1. Lionel Messi - Argentina

Prior World Cup appearances: 4

World Cup goals scored so far: 6

Lionel Messi is widely viewed as the best player of his generation, and some even say of all time, and his record certainly leads credence to that. The 35-year-old has won more Ballon d'Or prizes than any other player in history, and has a trophy cabinet that would make many others green with envy. However, despite his numerous accolades, there continues to be one prize that eludes him: the World Cup.

In 2014, Messi had to settle for a runners-up medal after Germany won it, with Mario Gotze scoring a winner late in the match. Four years later, his team's journey ended at the hands of France, and after paying a huge part in Argentina's 2021 Copa America win, he will be firmly focused on trying to finally lead his team to the one title that has eluded him for his entire career in what will be his fifth appearance at a World Cup.

After winning the Copa America last year, only the World Cup continues to elude Messi, who will be featuring in his last World Cup this year

All in all, Neymar will hope to have a huge impact for Brazil as they aim to win their sixth World Cup. The South American powerhouse will face Serbia on matchday one, followed by Switzerland, and then wrap things up against Cameroon.

4. Harry Kane - England

Prior World Cup appearances: 1

World Cup goals scored so far: 6

Four years ago, England were so painfully close to making it to their first World Cup final in decades, but were cruelly denied that chance by Croatia, who managed to beat them in extra time. Harry Kane ended up winning the Golden Boot as the tournament's top goal-scorer, but now, the Tottenham star will hope to do one better and help England finally end their decades of hurt at major international competitions.

After the heartbreak of EURO 2020, will Kane be able to inspire his side this year in Qatar?

England endured more heartbreak last summer as they were beaten on spot kicks by Italy during the rescheduled EURO 2020 final, but after seeing the women's side win the women's EURO competition earlier this year, could that further inspire the Three Lions to success this year?

There have been some concerns about Kane's fitness, but he is expected to lead the Three Lions as they face Iran, the USMNT, and Wales in the group stages.

5. Aleksandar Mitrović - Serbia

Prior World Cup appearances: 1

World Cup goals scored so far: 1

Serbia have been tipped by some to be potential dark horses at this year's World Cup, and key to their success will be stars like Aleksandar Mitrović.

Mitrović has had a solid year so far with Fulham, but his coach will be hoping he can recovery from injury to take part in the group stages at the World Cup

The 28-year-old is currently his nation's all-time top goal-scorer and became a national hero with his last minute winner against Portugal to help Serbia automatically book their spot at the upcoming World Cup. During the group stages, Mitrović and his colleagues will kick things off with a clash against Brazil, followed by Cameroon, and then conclude with a tie versus Switzerland. Revenge will definitely be on Serbia's minds as they lost in controversial to Switzerland four years ago during the group stages.

6. Robert Lewandowski - Poland

Prior World Cup appearances: 1

World Cup goals scored so far: 0

Four years ago, Robert Lewandowski was part of the Poland squad that took part in the 2018 World Cup. Unfortunately, he was unable to make any sort of impact or score a single goal as his team made an early exit after finishing bottom of a quartet comprised of Colombia, Japan, and Senegal.

Lewandowski will be hoping to score his first goal at a World Cup this year in Qatar

At 34, this likely will be Lewandowski's last World Cup, as he will be 38 by the time the 2026 edition rolls around (provided Poland qualify). During qualifiers, he was directly involved in 18 goals for Poland (nine goals, nine assists), and as Poland's all time top goal-scorer, will hope to match his impressive form for Barcelona, which has seen him net 18 times in 19 appearances across all comps, with a strong performance for the Orly as they look to find a way out of a very tough quartet alongside the likes of Mexico and Argentina, who they will face on matchdays one and three respectively. Matchday two will pit them against Saudi Arabia in which many expect them to pick up all three points.

7. Kylian Mbappe - France

Prior World Cup appearances: 1

World Cup goals scored so far: 4

And last, but certainly not least, we have Kylian Mbappe. The PSG ace might be only 23 years old, but he's a veteran as far as World Cups are concerned. Four years ago, at just 19 years old, he scored four goals during France's successful World Cup win, including netting in the final as Les Bleus earned a deserved 4-2 win over surprise finalists Croatia. 

Mbappe is just 23, but is already a World Cup veteran as he hopes to help France become the third side to win back to back titles

It was tough having to decide between Mbappe and Karim Benzema, especially considering that the latter will come into this tournament as the reigning Ballon d'Or winner. However, the fact that Mbappe was part of France's World Cup winning squad last time out, and netted four goals at just the age of 19 gave him the slight edge when deciding which of the two stars to select.

The reigning champs start their title defense against Australia, before facing Denmark and Tunisia on matchdays two and three.

Bonus player: Gareth Bale - Wales

Prior World Cup appearances: 0

World Cup goals scored so far: 0

Since moving from Real Madrid to Los Angeles FC, Gareth Bale has found a new lease on his footballing career. The 33-year-old played a vital role in his team clinching the MLS Cup thanks to his 128th minute header, which is the latest ever scored goal in league history. Despite not being a regular starter, that success will certainly give him confidence as Wales make their first appearance in 64 years this year in Qatar.

Wales are in a tricky group, alongside England and the USMNT, but many expect the Dragons to put up a good fight as they aim to navigate through unchartered territory for the first time. Bale played a key part in his team securing qualification for the first time in over half a century, and it will be interesting to see what the former Real Madrid ace has up his sleeve as Wales hope to make a big return to the big stage.

After success with Los Angeles FC, Bale will turn his attention towards making a strong impression at his country's first World Cup appearance in 64 years

Bale and Wales will start their group stage campaign against the USMNT in a match that could prove decisive as to who gets out of their group. Afterwards, they will face Iran, followed by a crunch clash against England on matchday three.

*For more information regarding the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including where to watch all the games, news, highlights, and more, check out our bespoke 2022 FIFA World Cup broadcast page. 

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