Moscow, June 13 (IANS) There are plenty of outstanding footballers whose skills will be on display at this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup, in addition to the obvious superstars like Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronald and Brazil’s Neymar.
Some of the biggest names in the sport are to be among the 736 players on 32 national teams from five continents, excluding a few strong players such as Gianluigi Buffon, Gareth Bale and Alexis Sanchez, who failed to qualify for this year’s tournament, reports Efe.
While Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar — all seeking their maiden World Cup title — will be the main course, they are not the only items on fans’ plates during the event, held from June 15 to July 15.
This applies to all positions, including great goalkeepers such as Spain’s David De Gea, Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois, France’s Hugo Lloris and Brazil’s Alisson, all of whom are set to take part in the event, although Spain’s Buffon and Iker Casillas will be out.
Germany has two of the best goalkeepers in the world – Manuel Neuer and Marc-Andre ter Stegen – and they will be competing for a place in the defending champion’s starting line-up.
At age 45, Egypt’s veteran keeper Essam al-Hadary may set a new World Cup record as the oldest player to take part in the competition if he makes the final squad.
The list of defenders is full of big names such as Brazil full backs Marcelo and Dani Alves, Spain duo Dani Carvajal and Jordi Alba, France’s Layvin Kurzawa and Germany’s Joshua Kimmich.
Other key players will be Argentina central defender Nicolas Otamendi, Portugal’s Pepe, Germany’s Mats Hummels, Spain’s Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, France’s Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane and Uruguay’s Diego Godin and Raul Jimenez as well as Brazil’s Marquinhos and Thiago Silva.
Great defensive midfielders are also to take part in the tournament such as Brazil’s Casemiro, Spain’s Sergio Busquets, Croatia’s Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic, Germany’s Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gundogan, Serbia’s Nemanja Matic, Belgium’s Radja Nainggolan and France’s Paul Pogba.
During the tournament, look for attacks from players like Brazil’s Philippe Coutinho, Croatia’s Luka Modric, Spain’s Andres Iniesta and David Silva, Belgium’s Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, Portugal’s Bernardo Silva, Colombia’s James Rodriguez and Germany’s Mesut Ozil.
There are plenty of world-class heavyweights besides Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar to watch as well.
These include Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Colombia’s Radamel Falcao, England’s Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, Argentina’s Sergio “Kun” Aguero, France’s Antoine Griezmann, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, Spain’s Alvaro Morata, Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski.
There will also be a number of World Cup debuts in Russia, including France’s Kylian Mbappe, Kingsley Coman and Ousmane Dembele, England’s Delle Ali and Marcus Rashford, Germany’s Leroy Sane, Timo Werner and Leon Goretzka, Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus, Argentina’s Paulo Dybala, Spain’s Isco, Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, Colombia’s Davinson Sanchez, Switzerland’s Manuel Akanji, Portugal’s Guedes and Mexico’s Hirving Lozano.
Some talented Middle Eastern players, though not well-known, are heading to Russia this year for their share of the fame, followed closely by fans back home, such as Egypt winger Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim, best known as “Kahraba,” who plays for Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad.
Though not as famous as his compatriots Mo Salah and Mohamed Elneny, he is expected to put in a good show.
The same applies to Tunisia forward Youssef Msakni (Qatari Duhail), Morocco midfielder Hakim Ziyech (Dutch Ajax) and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad al-Sahlaw, the top-scorer in the qualifiers, tied with Lewandowski at 16 goals.