Hipster’s Guide to the World Cup Vol. 4: The Next Generation
New players show promise in the leagues, and now it's time for them to show their talents on the ultimate stage.
They say that soccer is a team sport.
That it takes more than one good player to bring victory.
Superstars continue to prove this wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, a soccer game is a team effort. Each player runs around 10km on the field, chasing and passing the ball until it goes into the back of the net. That means that on average, one team runs 100km (the goalie doesn’t run, realistically) per game. Statistically, one player can’t do all that work by themselves… obviously. However, one player can make all the difference in his 1/11 share of the result.
With a legendary player under your belt though, winning might be that much easier. Russia 2018 will test a new pool of young soccer players who strive to be skilled enough to bring glory to their country. Who are they?
Glad you asked…
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
One of the most electrifying players you’ll see in the World Cup is Mohamed Salah who led Liverpool to greatness as the league’s top scorer for the 2017-2018 season. The 25-year-old shows extraordinary skill with his left foot, and can do it all. He dribbles with spectacular agility and plays intelligently. His knowledge of where to pass comes in handy when playing with his attacking partner, Roberto Firmino, at the club. With two goals against this old team Roma, Salah is the main contributor as to why Liverpool played in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Can he do it for his country though? Yes.
While qualifying for the tournament, Salah put away a late penalty for Egypt that led the team to the cup. In extra-time, the score was tied 1-1 again Congo (with a goal from Salah earlier in the game), but that wasn’t enough for them to go through. Salah shot into the lower right corner from the spot to make the score 2-1 and take Egypt to the finals. This is the first time in 28 years that Egypt has qualified, and it’s thanks to the rising star, Mohamed Salah.
Look for Salah to be one of the biggest names to come out of this year’s World Cup.
Paulo Dybala (Argentina)
Playing in the shadow of Messi is rough. Well, unless you’re Paulo Dybala. With a very elegant style of play, the 24-year-old Argentinean international hopes to showcase his talents this summer to bring the trophy back to his country (something Messi hasn’t been able to do in three consecutive finals).
Currently playing for Juventus, Dybala is an excellent playmaker. His passes are reminiscent of Italian legend, Andre Pirlo. Dybala hasn’t been able to reach his full potential with the Italian club, but hopefully with an excellent performance in Russia, Dybala will be the next big thing.
Marco Asensio (Spain)
The wonder kid of Real Madrid, and an offensive super-sub is the 22-year-old magic maker. Call him what you will, Marco Asensio is one of the most spectacular players in the game at the moment. Playing for Real Madrid, Asensio has been a key trait to the team’s success in the Champions League and La Liga. Marco Asensio starts on the bench for most of the team’s games, but whenever he comes in, miracles happen.
Asensio will contribute to a strong Spain team this year. Based on his performances in all European competitions, he will be the most dominant midfielder in the squad. Even though he is one of the youngest on his team, his skills are those of an experienced player. Trust me, with him on the pitch, even legends will be losing their balance as he dribbles past.
Kylian Mbappé (France)
This kid is only 19 years old, and he is already being called the next Messi by some (Samuel Eto’o). On loan from Monaco to Paris St. Germain (PSG), scoring 13 goals, the French International has been focusing on feeding his attacking partner, Edison Cavani— who is at the top of scoring charts.
Mbappé has unprecedented speed when it comes to his style of play. He is the most fun player to watch in Ligue 1, and he’s still in his teens. This could come back to bite him though, as inexperience is a potential cause for failure on a stage as large as the World Cup. With a charisma to spare, look for Mbappé to make waves.
After losing to Germany, 7-1, in the World Cup semi-finals in 2014, Brazil fell into a stage of depression. Their team collapsed under different types of management, but now under coach Tite, all this is changing. Willian is part of a squad that will work with the likes of Neymar, Marcelo, Dani Alves, Coutinho, Thiago Silva, and Douglas Costa. All in a dream team, but emerging from these ranks is the Chelsea midfielder.
Willian’s feet are quick and the execution of his passes and shots alike, is remarkable. Although widely underrated by the rest of the squad, Willian will be one of the most crucial players when it comes to getting forward for Brazil. Since he was there in 2014 during that defeat, Willian will have a spark inside him that emphasizes the Brazilian style and flare.
Look for Brazil and its team of young superstars to erase that humiliating loss once and for all.
Harry Kane (England)
Harry Kane has been one of the most consistent players for his club, Tottenham Hotspurs FC. His ability to score goals is insane, as he has been the league’s top scorer many times in the past. He is a quick player, and his traditional style of play is what makes him deadly. Two touches, shoot. That is all it takes for the ball to end up in the back of the net.
The 24-year-old is clinical. The problem with Kane though, is that if you blink, then you might miss a goal. However, his performance for the national team has never been as majestic as now. Look for him to break that trend this World Cup.