The 32 teams participating in the first World Cup in Qatar hope to bring home the cup for their country.
Every team will have 27 players in their ranks to choose from, but here are the top 10 players you should watch.
1. Harry Kane, England
Harry Kane would love to end his drought of goals for England in the World Cup. All he needs is a goal in the next two games to surpass Wayne Rooney’s 53 goals as England’s all-time leading scorer.
Kane is a solid all-around player, comfortable working as a striker or in central midfield. Referees will watch him for his tendency to back into defenders jumping for the ball in the box, often leading to fouling.
2. Robert Lewandowski, Poland
This World Cup, Poland isn’t likely to be making waves. But if something major were to happen, Jazdan Lewandowski would be right in the center. He’s been a fixture of the game for 15 years and has shown no sign of slowing down or retiring anytime soon.
He is a mature player with skill and discipline who has consistently scored goals in the Bundesliga for the last seven years. He’s undoubtedly been one of the best strikers ever to play professional football, winning the Golden Boot twice.
This year he won Germany’s top scorer award with 41 goals in the season, putting him just shy of level 400 goals. 6’1″ and fit as a fiddle, there may be no better center-forward today than him.
3. Michy Batshuayi, Belgium
Belgium’s national team features some of the best soccer players on the planet. Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard have earned their street cred as stars for their club teams, but Michy Batshuayi is not to be taken lightly. He has speed and strength, which makes him an ideal fit for those looking for a striker with brilliant link-up play.
There is intense competition for the trophy, and the best way to stand out is to keep up with your skills, hard work, and ambition.
4. Fabinho, Brazil
It doesn’t look like the Liverpool midfielder will see his name on the scoreboard at this World Cup. He has yet to score in 28 appearances, and Tite’s squad includes nine attackers, so he might not get much of a look-in regarding penalty box action.
But his height and style make him a success as a central defender. He can drop to the center and defend at his best while loving to recycle the ball and attack the threat.
5. Gareth Bale, Wales
Gareth Bale may not be holding the hopes of a nation returning to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years on his shoulders alone, but it probably feels like it.
Wales has some decent players in their squad, and Gareth is one of them. Still, he’s no longer facing titans such as Nemanja Vidic and Sergio Ramos at Real Madrid and Manchester United, respectively.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
Ronaldo, one of Portugal’s all-time top goal scorers at 37, has been majorly inconsistent this World Cup.
Nonetheless, he’s still a creative playmaker who loves to be the center of attention. Often given free rein out of position to roam freely and creatively, Ronaldo knows that the world is watching him and wants to dazzle them with his brilliance.
If Ronaldo can get past his issues with Manchester United, he’ll have plenty of time to score for Portugal. Not only does he have 119 caps for the national team, but he’s also scored over 150 goals in total.
7. Hakim Ziyech, Morocco
There are many reasons why Moroccan star Hakim Ziyech has been nicknamed “The Wizard” in recent years. One of these is his commitment to detail and accuracy, which he’s shown time after time to help his team out of tight spots.
Trained in Belgium by the 2003 World Cup Golden Ball winner Aja Severe, he also has defensive prowess and an ability to make decisive tackles that allow his team a chance at victory. These technical skills make him one of the most dangerous players in this tournament if Morocco makes it past Group F.
He’s quick to the ball and is a great passer. He doesn’t rely on his assists, though, as he has 17 goals for Morocco.
8. Neymar, Brazil
Neymar has scored a whopping 75 goals in 95 games, making him one of the deadliest strikers the game has ever seen.
He’s equally at home on the wing, in midfield, or as a striker. He’s an electrifying player with speed and skill from back to front. If an opponent gets out of line, you’ll see some trademark moves, such as the rainbow flick.
However, Neymar will be facing his biggest challenges yet. Expect to see a lot of physical challenges towards him, as well as him making the most of each one, diving and rolling around dramatically on the pitch.
9. Lionel Messi, Argentina
If you’re looking for someone with incredible skill and unbelievable talent, watch out for the last U20 World Cup. The world witnessed what is widely considered one of the greatest players ever to live – Messi.
Despite his immense success in soccer, Pele has yet to win a World Cup. Sadly, he will probably never have another chance to do so.
With Messi now considering stepping away from the game at Paris Saint-Germain, you only have to look over Messi’s shoulder to see one candidate: Mbappe.
10. Kylian Mbappe, France
Not only does Mbappe have several goals for his country, but he also can play as a winger or striker. His versatility has seen him provide chances and assists his teammates. He especially excels from the right side.
Mbappe is creative, with explosive acceleration and a sudden change of pace and direction that will bewilder opponents. He has the potential to be among the best in the world, but this World Cup is an opportunity for him to get even closer.