Three Players to Watch at the World Cup 2022

Lionel Messi
via Месси Лионель / CC-BY-2.0

The World Cup is the pinnacle of football. It takes place once every four years and brings together 32 of the greatest national teams worldwide for a one-month event.

In Qatar, the event will be played across November and December, with the final scheduled for December 18th. Coming amid the season is slightly unusual for those involved, but it may result in some of the finest international football we’ve seen. 

There’s an abundance of talented players going to the competition, but what players are worth your attention? 

Lucas Paqueta
via Nadine Oliverr / Public Domain

Lucas Paqueta

The Brazilian maestro has shot to global stardom in the best two years. He is a player with the traditional flair his national side is known for. Being the most successful country in World Cup history comes with a certain weight of expectations, both in play and in results. Brazil is heavily favoured going into this tournament, as they usually are. Most bookmakers giving football best tips would suggest they win it all, with Betfair having them the favourite at 4/1, followed by France at 11/2 and Argentina at 7/1. Three powerhouses in the international game, but only one can win it all.

The Seleção have notable ballers in both attack and defence. Players like Neymar, Thiago Silva, Raphina, and Marquinhos will lead the team in the winter. However, although they are also strong in defensive midfield, they need a ball carrier that links the back to the front. With the ability to carry the ball into the final third with ease and pinging passes from any angle or distance, Paqueta is an exceptional talent. The West Ham midfielder occupies more advanced positions for his club, but when he laces them up for his nation, he is deployed in the number 8 role. The only thing that could hold him back from exploding on the international stage is injury.

Virgil van Dijk
via Ailura, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT

Virgil van Dijk

Not exactly an emerging star, Virgil van Dijk has been around for several years now. The enormous Dutch centre-back has been one of the best, if not the best, defenders for the past five years. He even came second in Ballon d’Or voting in 2019, the highest a defender has finished since Fabio Cannavaro won the award in 2006.

So why is he one to watch? Well, the Netherlands didn’t qualify for the last World Cup and van Dijk hadn’t established himself as a standout player by the time the 2014 edition came around. Being a late bloomer has now limited him to participating in his first World Cup at 31 years old.

All that said, he is still one of the best defenders in the world and it’ll be interesting to see him anchoring that backline. The Dutch are always surprisingly strong and this year shouldn’t be any different. They could be dark horses.

Leo Messi

Lionel Messi
via CC-BY-2.0

The Argentine has established himself as one of the best footballers of all time. His strong performances for the Albicelestes recently landed him his first international trophy in 2021. The all-action player is capable of doing it all but now drops a bit deeper to play the role of the architect. Likely to be his last World Cup, but definitely at a high-performing level, could we see him go one step further than in 2014? If they do so, expect some transcendent performances from Messi. It’s the final trophy for his collection, and those who don’t know him as the greatest of all time will have nothing left to question. 

With so many amazingly talented players heading to the World Cup, it’s impossible to narrow it down to just a few. Whatever game you watch, the teams will thoroughly entertain you, and some unexpected star will grab your attention.