FIFA World Cup series: Each team’s star player/game-changer (part 2)

Aakash Rao
9 min readOct 29, 2022

Welcome back to my blog, and this time I’m back with the second part of a FIFA World Cup article on who I think will be each WC team’s best player or their game-changer. Let’s get right into it!

GROUP D

France: Mbappe

Despite everyone having the impression that Mbappe is a spoilt man-child with too much power and fame, the French attacker is still one of THE best players in the world, and preventing the world cup curse from inflicting itself on France will be mostly Mbappe’s responsibility. The PSG forward has been on pretty good form for the Parisian side, and he is undoubtedly the star player for club and country. At least he will be as long as Deschamps plays him with Giroud and not as a lone CF

Denmark: Christian Eriksen

Eriksen may have been victim to a shocking heart attack in the last major tournament, but he remains a crucial player for his new club, Manchester United (much to the delight of us fans) as well as his country. The attacking midfielder is truly an enigma for any side he plays for, and hopefully he puts on a show for us in this WC.

Australia: Mathew Ryan

Let me be completely honest here; this Australia team is devoid of any outstanding talents. No one really catches my eye, and in the end I had to choose a player i knew relatively well, Mathew Ryan. The former Seagulls keeper currently plies his trade at Copenhagen in the Danish league, and is still quite a decent goalkeeper. He left Real Sociedad due to a lack of game time, and despite still not playing as much as he would want to, he still is the captain of this Australia side and will be important to the Socceroos this WC.

Tunisia: Wahbi Khazri

Some of you may remember Khazri from his time at Sunderland when they were in the PL, and the forward is still going strong at Montpellier at the age of 31. The veteran has scored 24 goals for his country, the most out of the most recent squad, and he will be important to any upset Tunisia pull off this WC.

GROUP E

Spain: Pedri

This one is very straight-forward. The Barcelona wonderkid is one of Spain’s best talents in their squad, and the silky midfielder will play an important part in Spain’s game. He is exactly the kind of player Luis Enrique wants in his side, and he will be the player to watch in Qatar.

Costa Rica: Keylor Navas

Navas was solid in the last WC, and despite being second choice at PSG he still is comfortably Costa Rica’s best player of this generation. Next!

Germany:Joshua Kimmich

Easy pick. Joshua Kimmich is easily one of the best midfielders on the PLANET, and he will be the difference maker for Germany this time. The Bayern midfielder has been a mainstay for the German side and Bayern Munich for years now, and is definitely one of the most talented players at the WC I’d love to watch.

Japan: Daichi Kamada

For those who don’t really follow German football, you may not have realised that Japan have a ready-made, in form star for this world cup. Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Daichi Kamada has scored 6 Bundesliga goals in 10 games as well as 2 in 5 in the CL for his side, already 2 more than his tally last season. The attacking midfielder has worked well with Gotze this season to establish Frankfurt’s position as a top 4 side so far, and will definitely hope to carry over his electric form for his country as well.

GROUP F

Belgium: Courtois

Another country, another keeper. Thibaut Courtois is undeniably world class, and sadly he is the only truly world class player left in that Belgium squad. Their Golden Age has come and gone, and this year Belgium will rely heavily on their talented goalkeeper to keep them in the mix.

Canada: Alphonso Davies

Easiest decision on this list. Davies is perhaps Canada’s best footballer ever, forget the best player in this current canadian side, despite his young age. The Bayern Munich left-back can be considered world-class, regardless of his slight drop in form over the past year. He has struggled with fitness a bit, but when he is in shape, the man’s a beast. Truly a top player, he will be a thrilling player to watch at the World Cup.

Morocco: Achraf Hakimi

The second full-back in a row, Hakimi has been pretty eye-catching for PSG this season, and performed superbly in the Parisian club’s recent trashing of Maccabi Haifa in the CL. The right wing-back is one of the best attacking full-backs in the world, and barely gets any credit for his consistently top class performances for PSG. PSG have often lacked a top class full back on that right hand side, and Hakimi has fixed that issue for the next 5 years at least. Morocco will be delighted to have such a talent in their side, and he will play an important part in their World Cup squad.

Croatia: Luka Modric

Luka Modric remains world class despite his age, and he will play a very crucial part in this waning Croatia side. They should qualify from the group, and Modric will be important to their success. His passing range is exquisite, and his quality will be irreplaceable for the Red and White this winter.

GROUP G

Brazil: Neymar Jr

Without a shadow of doubt, the PSG forward will be vital to Brazil’s WC run this year. While Brazil are blessed with attacking talents, Neymar is certainly the cream of the crop and will play a crucial role in this Brazil side. Hopefully, his electric club form will translate into his form for his country as he gears up for his 3rd World Cup. Realistically, the winger is at his prime age, and will want to win the WC this time to add yet another prestigious trophy into his locker.

Serbia: Sergej Milinković-Savić

Lazio midfielder SMS has been on electric form this season for the Serie A side, and he will hope to carry over that form for his national side, as they aim to qualify at a relatively harder group. Both Serbia and Switzerland are equal in terms of their squad’s ability, so SMS may be the difference maker for this Serbia side. Hopefully, the silky midfield general will be able to dictate the tempo of play and win games for his side in Qatar.

Switzerland: Granit Xhaka

Yet another player on song for his club, captain Xhaka will have a major role to play in Switzerland’s World Cup journey. The midfielder has been playing spectacularly for an Arsenal side top of the league, and you can definitely count on him to make the difference if necessary. The midfield enigma will be vital to a Swiss WC run, and hopefully we can see some steely performances from Xhaka.

Cameroon: André-Frank Zambo Anguissa

Another team, another midfielder. Anguissa has been pretty class for Napoli, who are currently top of Serie A. The defensive midfielder has been the anchor for this Napoli side, missing only 2 games so far. He truly is one of Cameroon’s more talented players, and I look forward to seeing him play at the World Cup.

GROUP H

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo

I may be a Manchester United fan, but I have not really been a fan of Ronaldo’s recent antics and performances for the Red Devils. Despite this apparent decline, he still is THE best Portuguese player to have ever played the game, and he will want to win the World Cup given it is his final chance to do so. Despite being 37 years of age, he remains fit and still has those goal-scoring instincts, so hopefully we can look forward to some blockbuster goals and performances from the iconic striker.

Ghana: Mohammed Kudus

Kudus is a bright attacking midfielder (who can also play as a striker) from Ajax, who has been lighting up the Eredesvie with some brilliant performances. The 22 year-old may not be the most experienced player, but I feel he is the most talented in that squad, and I look forward to seeing what he can do at the World Cup.

Uruguay: Fede Valverde

This is a bit of an outside pick, but hear me out. The Real Madrid midfielder has become a regular under Ancelotti, and can be relied upon for creativity, either from the right wing or his preferred position of CAM. The Uruguayan midfielder has truly been an outstanding player for one of the best teams in the world, and his creativity will be crucial to Uruguay at this World Cup. Sure, you have the likes of Suarez, Cavani and Nunez who will get you goals, but without the chance creation from Valverde, Uruguay’s attack would lack that spark required to get those goals.

South Korea: Heung-Min Son

There was only one answer to this. Son has truly made it in world football, establishing himself as world-class after winning the Golden boot last season. He may have had a bit of a rough start this season, but he still remains a top player and has proven he can still score goals and make the difference, for both club and country. That hat-trick against Leicester reminded us of his quality, and hopefully he will be scoring goals for fun to entertain us all in Qatar.

That’s it for this article, do share your opinions on which player you think will be the crucial player for the country you support (use the responses section down below), and I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I will be releasing more articles on the World Cup in the coming weeks, so do look forward to those, and till my next article, adios!

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Aakash Rao

An avid Manchester United fan and football/music blogger!