Soccer has always been a team sport, but, as the 2022 World Cup should prove, some players stand head and shoulders above their peers. Unsurprisingly, these players command cult hero status. It all starts on the pitch. They place themselves in a bracket of their own because of their skill. Their teams can win matches through this excellence on the field of play, often in the most prestigious arenas in world football. Their clubs and national teams are more successful as a result. Everybody can see it – teammates, rivals, coaches, fans. The media, on their part, do what they do best. They place the star players on a podium, ensuring the world gets a peek at their brilliance. So, yes, soccer is a team sport. But in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, there are a handful of players everybody will be itching to see. We’ll rely on these guys to light up the tournament. It’ll be up to them to get bums off seats in those new, air-conditioned Doha stadiums. Here are three of the best.
Lionel Messi In 2022 World Cup
Speaking purely in football terms, Lionel Messi is a god. Captain of Argentina and clear talisman, Messi has scored more international goals than anybody else in South American football, including Brazilian legend Pele (retired). He, of course, holds the record for most goals scored for Argentina (71, at time of writing), as well as:
- All-time most assists for Argentina with 42.
- All-time most friendly-match goals for Argentina with 34.
- Most caps for Argentina with 151.
- Most goals for Argentina in a calendar year with 12 goals in 2012.
- All-time most goals in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers with 21.
- Youngest ever goalscorer for Argentina – aged 18 years and 357 days old when scoring against Serbia in 2006.
The list of records and accolades goes on and on. In 2022, as Qatar hosts the world’s first-ever winter World Cup, La Pulga will hope to add even more to the list. Most importantly, he’ll be hoping to add a dazzling World Cup winners’ medal to his cabinet while dazzling soccer fans on the pitch.
Cristiano Ronaldo In 2022 World Cup
Just like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo is transcendent in the sport of soccer. Perhaps the most recognizable face in world soccer, Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram, with more than 440 million followers. Ronaldo’s name sells soccer jerseys. Stadiums fill to the brink to see CR7 take to the pitch. And when he does get on the rise, Ronaldo never disappoints. The Portugal captain holds the outright record for most goals in men’s soccer with a whopping 807. Imagine that! Ronaldo is easily the most accomplished goalscorer the game has ever seen and has made a clear difference wherever he has played. When Real Madrid needed inspiration, they turned to Ronaldo. When Manchester United and Juventus needed a hero to save them, it was him they turned to. Whenever Portugal has needed someone to light their path, they’ve called upon Ronny. And Ronny has always answered. His presence on the field lifts his teammates, coaches, and fans. Ronaldo is no mere player. At the 2022 World Cup, he will be a beacon of hope for the Portuguese nation that has never been to the finals, let alone win soccer’s biggest trophy. The mercurial striker, who will be 37 by the time the tournament kicks off, has already admitted that Qatar 2022 will likely be his last hurrah on the international soccer scene.
“I expect Qatar could be my final World Cup,” said he to beIN Sports in 2016. “I often go on holidays there, to Qatar and Dubai. I am happy because it will surely be the last (sic) international tournament.” Fans at Qatar 2022, and not just his fellow citizens, will be willing him on, hoping he can clinch the only trophy missing from his truly spectacular haul.
Kylian Mbappe In 2022 World Cup
As regarded, Kylian Mbappe is the heir to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two top soccer players now in the twilight of their respective careers. The spectacular, young Frenchman has proven that reputation for being well-earned, thanks to his exploits in Ligue 1 with PSG and France at the 2018 World Cup. Mbappe, who has also starred for Monaco, helped France reach 2018 final and scored in the game, aged 19 at the time. He became only the second teenager (after Brazilian legend Pele) to score in a World Cup final, achieving his status as one of the game’s bonafide superstars at an incredibly tender age. “Pele made football history; I am just trying to follow my path,” he told the press after the game. “I am just starting. I try to play as I have always done. I am breaking records. Scoring is always special. I have always been working toward moments like this one. It is not the end. I must continue; we must continue because I have the ambition to go further.” Qatar 2022 is a platform for Mbappe to demonstrate that ambition. Can he take his game to even higher levels?
The whole world will be waiting with bated breath.