FIFA World Cup series: Each team’s star player/game-changer (part 1)

Aakash Rao
6 min readOct 21, 2022

Welcome back to my blog, and this time I’m back with a FIFA World Cup article on who I think will be each WC team’s best player or their game-changer. As the build-up to FIFA WC 2022 intensifies, I will be writing more and more articles on it, so do look forward to them! OK, now into the article.

GROUP A

Qatar: Akram Afif

Finding a genuine game-changer or star player for some of the smaller countries have been genuinely brain-wracking, but after I did some research, there is no doubt Qatar’s star player is left winger Akram Afif. The Qatari winger has even been on the books of Villareal, despite not making a single appearance for the Spanish side. He currently turns out for Qatari side Al Sadd FC, and you can expect him to put on a show for this year’s host nation.

Ecuador: Moises Caicedo

Ecuador actually do have a decent amount of good players scattered across Europe, and while I could have chosen skipper Enner Valencia who plays for Fenerbahce, I feel youngster Caicedo could be a true star this Qatar WC. Perhaps in a similar way to James Rodriguez, though no one will be able to top how he burst onto the season in that legendary 2014 WC with THAT goal against Uruguay in particular propelling the young midfielder to stardom. Caicedo could also use this mid-season WC to impress potential suitors, especially since he has all the talent and potential to do so.

Senegal: Sadio Mane

There is only one answer for this; Sadio mane. The Bayern Munich attacker may not have hit the ground running in Germany, but he is definitely one of the best players in their history, forget in their current squad. The former Liverpool frontman has been exceptional for his country in recent times, and if Senegal want to be dark horses, Mane will be crucial to any challenge they mount.

Netherlands: Frenkie De Jong

Midfield is where games are won, regardless of what anyone tells you. Netherlands have quite the squad, but without a doubt, De Jong will be crucial to their success. He has been a key part of the Dutch side for so long, and regardless of his club situation, will be starting every game in Qatar barring injury. The Barca midfielder will truly be the game-changer for the Dutch, and will determine if they progress far into the tournament.

GROUP B

England: Harry Kane

Harry Kane is imperative to England’s success. There’s no two ways about it. All England fans (including me) are praying for Kane to stay fit for the World Cup, which is easier said than done given the congested fixture schedules PL teams are facing. England’s squad is already looking a bit depleted, with Reece James and Kyle Walker doubts for the tournament, and if Kane gets injured, it’s game over for England. Who else can replace this goal machine? DCL? Ollie Watkins? Give me a break. Harry Kane is the goals provider for this team, and will determine its success.

Iran: Mehdi Taremi

The Porto striker has become something of a cult hero recently given his CL antics, and he is definitely Iran’s best player. While Iran don’t really have that much of a chance of progressing through their group, He will be crucial to any upsets they pull off. Hopefully he can entertain us with more sumptuous goals on THE biggest stage in world football.

USA: Christian Pulisic

The man, the myth, the not-so-much-of-a-legend-yet. Captain America himself (not Chris Evans, I meant Pulisic) will be crucial to any chance of USA beating England and/or making it out of their group. Sure, USA do have plenty of talent, but none as talented as him. The winger has come clutch in key moments for club and country, and his talent on the ball is undeniable, so he will definitely be the key player for USA.

Wales: Gareth Bale

While the world’s interest in the Welsh winger may have disintegrated into ash following his career-killing move to the MLS (anyone who denies this is Welsh or just delusional), Bale is still his country’s hero. Bale remains an enigma for this youthful Wales side, and he will be counted upon to lead his side to the knockouts. Not many people have high expectations for the Welsh, but I have a feeling Bale may have it in him for one last world-class tournament.

GROUP C

Argentina: Leo Messi

Again, obvious. Leo Messi has been on fire for PSG, and given that this is the GOAT’s last World Cup, he will want to win it for his beloved Argentina. He already did the impossible by winning the Copa America with them, and he will be hoping that his magic left foot can carry Argentina to the World Cup finally.

Saudi Arabia: Fahad Al-Muwallad

This player may not be well-known to the conventional football fan, but he is definitely a top player. While he may not be THE star player of this Saudi Arabia squad, given its multiple talents, he was the player who did send them to the 2018 WC, so you can definitely count on him in the big moments. You may want to watch out for him against the big sides.

Mexico: Edson Alvarez

Mexico is a MASSIVE football nation, with multiple stars, but one who may make the difference this WC is defensive midfielder Edson Alvarez, who has honed his trade in arguably the best youth development set-up in the world, Ajax AFC. Originally a product of Club America’s academy, the Mexican has established himself as an Ajax regular, and remains linked to numerous top level clubs. As a defensive midfielder, he may not be the most glamourous player, but he will be important to any chance Mexico have of being a dark horse. Hopefully this time they progress farther than the round of 16.

Poland: Robert Lewandowski

Despite being 34 and playing in a new league, Lewa has adapted like a fish in water for Barca, and hopefully his electric club form translates into some top performances for Poland. Poland were extremely underwhelming during the Euros and 2018 WC, and will hope for a better outing this time around in Qatar. Lewa will hope to cause some upsets for the Red and White, and hopefully win the WC Golden Boot as well.

That’s all for this article, i will be releasing part 2 of this article very soon! Till then, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it, and do check out some of my older articles. Adios!

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Aakash Rao

An avid Manchester United fan and football/music blogger!