World Cup players to watch

World Cup 2022: A player to watch for every team


With the 2022 World Cup edging ever closer, we highlight one player to watch for every one of the 32 teams.


Group A

Ecuador

  • Moises Caicedo
  • Age: 20
  • Position: Central midfield
  • Club: Brighton

MOISES CAICEDO has already bagged 25 caps for his country at the tender age of 21, and it’s easy to see why given his star to the season for Premier League side Brighton. He will drive Ecuador on from midfield, a vital pivot to their dangerous wide players.

Moises Caicedo is star man for Ecuador
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Netherlands

  • Virgil van Dijk
  • Age: 31
  • Position: Centre-back
  • Club: Liverpool

A key club figure, it is hard to believe that VIRGIL VAN DIJK is yet to play a single minute of a major international tournament - injury ruled him out of Euro 2020 after the Dutch failed to qualify for the previous two events. His defensive influence will challenge even the most elite strike forces.

Qatar

  • Saeed Al Sheeb
  • Age: 32
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Club: Al Sadd

Al-Sadd goalkeeper SAAD AL SHEEB figures to be a very busy player throughout the three Group A matches. Qatar are an organised unit, but they’ll need their experienced stopper to be in top form to have any chance of getting something from any game during the tournament.

Senegal

  • Iliman Ndiaye
  • Age: 22
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Sheffield United

The Sky Bet Championship's joint-top scorer ILIMAN NDIAYE could be the man to step up following Senegal's devastating loss of their talisman Sadio Mane to injury on the eve of the World Cup. Despite only making two international appearances thus far, this could be a breakout tournament for the Bladesman.


Group B

England

  • Bukayo Saka
  • Age: 21
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Arsenal

BUKAYO SAKA has improved remarkably over the last few years. He has become an integral part of the Arsenal team who are flying, and has impressed whenever playing for England. His directness and pace suits Harry Kane’s preference to drop deep and create, and he could have a storming tournament.

Saka v Iran
ALSO READ: Saka shows he can star in Qatar

Iran

  • Mehdi Taremi
  • Age: 30
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Porto

Porto’s MEHDI TAREMI enjoyed a strong World Cup qualifying campaign, netting seven goals across 13 appearances while also providing a further six assists. His career total for Iran sits at 27 goals and 13 assists across 60 games in all competitions, moving between the wing and centre forward.

USA

  • Tyler Adams
  • Age: 23
  • Position: Central Midfield
  • Club: Leeds

Leeds midfielder TYLER ADAMS has earned praise for his early Premier League showings, regularly posting a high tackle count given his position at the base of midfield. He played plenty of minutes during qualifying, captaining the side on seven occasions, and he should catch the eye in Qatar.

Tyler Adams USA stats

Wales

  • Kieffer Moore
  • Age: 30
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Bournemouth

From sixth-tier Truro to scoring Wales’ Euro 2020 opener, sending Bournemouth into the top flight and heading home on Premier League opening day, KIEFFER MOORE has now scored seven and assisted once in 13 competitive Wales starts. When the 6ft 5ins striker has netted, the Dragons have lost only once.

Kieffer Moore in action for Wales
ALSO READ: Moore proves Wales worth once again

Group C

Argentina

  • Lautaro Martinez
  • Age: 25
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Inter

Amassing 21 goals as Inter fell just short of the Serie A title in 21/22, LAUTARO MARTINEZ is more than just a clinical finisher. The frontman has the ability to lead defenders a merry dance with his combination of keen pressing and smart link-up play.

Mexico

  • Hirving Lozano
  • Age: 27
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Napoli

Despite starting only 20 Serie A matches HIRVING LOZANO provided 10 goal involvements in 21/22 to continue the form of his Napoli breakout season (11 goals, three assists). Used mainly as a substitute this term he should arrive in Qatar fresher than most and as Mexico's most expensive footballer much will be expected.

Poland

  • Robert Lewandowski
  • Age: 34
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Barcelona

It's impossible to look beyond captain ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI who cast aside the ‘fails to produce at major tournaments’ tag by scoring three times at Euro 2020 only for Poland to still exit at the group stage. His 76 goals from 135 caps is truly remarkable; he's yet to score in a World Cup though.

Robert Lewandowski Poland stats

Saudi Arabia

  • Salem Al-Dawsari
  • Age: 31
  • Position: Winger
  • Club: Al-Hilal

No Saudi currently plies their trade abroad, so there was much intrigue when SALEM AL-DAWSARI joined Villarreal on loan prior to the last World Cup. Though he played just once for the Yellow Submarine, a winning goal against Egypt in the 2018 group stage ensured legendary status in Saudi Arabia. He remains their talisman.


Group D

Australia

  • Martin Boyle
  • Age: 29
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Hibernian

In a team likely to sit deep in the majority of their group matches, the pace and directness of MARTIN BOYLE could be crucial to Australia’s hopes. Since moving back to Hibernian after a spell in Saudi Arabia, Boyle has been among the goals, which is a plus for the Socceroos.

Denmark

  • Joakim Maehle
  • Age: 25
  • Position: Wing-back
  • Club: Atalanta

Wing-back JOAKIM MAEHLE is one of the driving forces in the Denmark team, and his breakout Euro 2020 tournament is likely to be backed up in Qatar. He is an attack-minded player with great energy who is capable of both scoring and assisting from wide areas. He is a handful.

France

  • Kylian Mbappe
  • Age: 23
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: PSG

Arguably the standout name for the whole World Cup, KYLIAN MBAPPE powered France to glory in 2018 as a mere 19-year-old. Seemingly unbowed by pressure and with four years' added growth under his belt, who knows what the skillful, agile forward is capable of on the biggest stage of all.

mbappe france goalscorers

Tunisia

  • Dylan Brown
  • Age: 27
  • Position: Centre-back
  • Club: Salernitana

DYLAN BRONN is at the heart of the Tunisia backline, and the Salernitana defender will need to be at his very best in Qatar. Comfortable on the ball, he is a tough defender for opponents to get past, which needs to remain the case in a group of direct dribblers.


Group E

Costa Rica

  • Bryan Ruiz
  • Age: 37
  • Position: Attacking midfield
  • Club: Alajuelense

Still going strong at 37 and now playing his club football back home, BRYAN RUIZ remains Costa Rica's prodigal son. Eight years captain, a third consecutive World Cup, 29 goals from 145 caps. To pass the 150 mark in Qatar the former Fulham man must drag his team kicking and screaming into the knockouts.

Germany

  • Jamal Musiala
  • Age: 19
  • Position: Attacking midfield
  • Club: Bayern Munich

Teenager JAMAL MUSIALA has quickly become an established player at Bayern Munich and heads to the World Cup as their top scorer in this season's Bundesliga. An England Under-21 international, he has already come back to haunt the Three Lions having provided an assist in September's 3-3 draw at Wembley.

Japan

  • Takumi Minamino
  • Age: 27
  • Position: Attacking midfield
  • Club: Monaco

Despite several quiet years at club level TAKUMI MINAMINO remains vital to Japan. The former Liverpool player finished 2021 with four goals and five assists in nine internationals and all told has 25 goal involvements from 43 caps. A strong World Cup could ignite what has so far been an underwhelming spell at Monaco.

Spain

  • Pedri
  • Age: 19
  • Position: Central midfield
  • Club: Barcelona

Despite his age, PEDRI is the heartbeat of both the Barcelona and Spain sides. Turning 20 during the World Cup, he will be charged with the all-important role of recycling possession and unlocking defensive doors for Luis Enrique’s side. Likely to be one of the stars of the tournament, Pedri is a must-watch.

Euro 2020 Young Stars

Group F

Belgium

  • Kevin De Bruyne
  • Age: 31
  • Position: Central midfield
  • Club: Manchester City

Opposition defences have a job on their hands if they are to keep one of the world's most complete midfielders at bay in KEVIN DE BRUYNE. A veteran of four major tournaments, this endlessly creative playmaker possesses an otherworldly range of passing and finely tuned eye for a cross.

Canada

  • Cyle Larin
  • Age: 27
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Club Brugge

Club Brugge’s CYLE LARIN was a star for Canada in their qualifying campaign, scoring 13 goals across their three group campaigns as he led the line for his country. His scoring record for Canada is very strong, netting 25 goals in 54 appearances across all competitions.

Cyle Larin WCQ stats

Croatia

  • Marcelo Brozovic
  • Age: 29
  • Position: Central midfield
  • Club: Inter Milan

Inter midfielder MARCELO BROZOVIC is a regular at the base of midfield for Croatia, often playing the full 90 minutes for his country. He can pick out a pass, alongside stopping the opposition through tackles and interceptions. He will be a key figure in Group F.

Morocco

  • Azzedine Ounahi
  • Age: 22
  • Position: Midfield
  • Club: Angers

Angers’ AZZEDINE OUNAHI played a key part as Morocco reached the World Cup, scoring twice in their victory over Congo in the final qualification round. He’s become a regular starter since making his debut in January 2022, and his ability to play on the wing or through the middle is a big positive.

Group G

Brazil

  • Gabriel Jesus
  • Age: 25
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Arsenal

A £45m summer move from Manchester City to Arsenal seems to have sparked the re-awakening of GABRIEL JESUS - the Brazillian has been in majestic form for his new club and should add extra flair to a Selecao line-up already brimming with offensive talent.

Cameroon

  • Victor Aboubakar
  • Age: 30
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Al Nassr

VINCENT ABOUBAKAR will need to provide the goals for Cameroon, a focal point up top. He’s proven he can do it recently, too, playing a huge part in taking his nation to the 2021 AFCON semi-finals as hosts by ending the tournament as top goalscorer.

Serbia

  • Aleksandar Mitrovic
  • Age: 28
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Fulham

Given the form he is in, ALEKSANDAR MITROVIC will be the focus of all opposition. Putting his incredible international record to one side (50 goals in 76 caps), the striker has carried his well-documented Championship form into the Premier League, silencing any critics with his displays at the top level this season.

Mitrovic goals

Switzerland

  • Breel Embolo
  • Age: 25
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Monaco

Experienced yet youthful, Monaco’s BREEL EMBOLO will likely be the source of Switzerland’s goals. The 25-year-old has been in solid form since moving to the principality and has looked at his most dangerous for his nation since March 2021, scoring six of his 11 international goals in that period.

Group H

Ghana

  • Inaki Williams
  • Age: 28
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Athletic Bilbao

Ghana haven’t had an elite forward since Asamoah Gyan retired, but the newly acquired INAKI WILLIAMS could be the man to step up at Qatar. Williams, who had represented Spain in friendlies, will give the Black Stars a willing runner of channels with lightening speed and a directness to scare opponents.

Portugal

  • Joao Felix
  • Age: 22
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Atletico Madrid

The winter World Cup may come at the perfect time for Atletico Madrid wantaway JOAO FELIX, as he looks to force a move away from the Wanda Metropolitano with game time limited. Able to play centrally or out wide, the versatile attacker will be looking to firmly plant himself in the shop window.

South Korea

  • Heung-min Son
  • Age: 30
  • Position: Forward
  • Club: Tottenham

HEUNG-MIN SON is a popular name on these shores, but he is worshiped in South Korea. He is the face, the captain and the leader of the national team, and they go as far as he can carry them. It's no over exaggeration to say their success in Qatar will hinge Son.

Son goals

Uruguay

  • Federico Valverde
  • Age: 24
  • Position: Midfield
  • Club: Real Madrid

FEDERICO VALVERDE is an important player for Uruguay, providing versatility and stability in midfield along with relentless energy. His all-round game complements the squad, with him providing a platform, as well as joining in. He leads by example, and will be a driving force to any success his side has in Qatar.

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