Daily Mail - - World Cup 2018 -


HE’S not had the ideal build-up with sto­ries about tat­toos and turn­ing up late but Ster­ling will not let that bother him. Very few 23-year-olds will have had to cope with what he has. As a re­sult, noth­ing fazes him. I don’t think he strikes the ball as well as he should and there are other ar­eas of his game he can work on but if he can repli­cate his per­for­mances for Manch­ester City he will have a great World Cup — and so will Eng­land. TIMO WERNER GER­MANY THINK of Gerd M Muller, ll Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller — Ger­many have al­ways had top-class for­wards. In Werner, they may have an­other. The striker won the Golden Boot at last year’s Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup with three goals and two as­sists. His 21 goals for RB Leipzig this sea­son fired them to the Europa League quar­ter-fi­nals.


BRAZIL’S hopes hinge on this man. He’s scored in both re­cent friendlies af­ter his re­turn from four months out with a foot in­jury, but it is vi­tal he stays fit. This the hard­est-work­ing Brazil side I can re­mem­ber. While it does not have the flair of 1970 or 1982, Ney­mar can pro­vide those mo­ments of magic to win their sixth World Cup.


THE clos­est I’ve seen to Thierry Henry. France are blessed with young for­wards but Mbappe is the pick of the bunch. He is lean but has pow­er­ful legs that give him ex­plo­sive pace and makes it all look so ef­fort­less. He has ev­ery­thing it takes to be­come one of the stars of the World Cup.


HE is a baby-faced as­sas­sin. But while he is an ice-cool fin­isher for Ju­ven­tus, he is yet to score in 12 matches for Ar­gentina. His dis­plays in Serie A and the Cham­pi­ons League show he has the tal­ent to thrive on the in­ter­na­tional stage but maybe he has been fazed by play­ing along­side Lionel Messi. If Ar­gentina are to win this World Cup, they can­not ex­pect Messi to take the weight of the team on his shoul­ders. The likes of Dy­bala and Gon­zalo Higuain will also have to step up.


BOTH of his World Cups have been clouded by con­tro­versy. He was sent off for a hand­ball on the line to deny Ghana a win­ner in 2010 be­fore bit­ing Italy’s Gior­gio Chiellini four years later. Only Messi and Ron­aldo scored more than his 25 in La Liga this sea­son. Will he be in the head­lines for all the right rea­sons this time?


ONE of the world’s best mid­field­ers and d one of my favourites s to watch. He has been in­te­gral to Real Madrid’s hat-trick of Cham­pi­ons ons League wins. His vi­sion cre­ates the vi­tal space for his team-mates to flour­ish and I love the way he slaloms ef­fort­lessly through mid­field. The for­mer Tottenham man be­longs at this level.


IF Bel­gium’s golden gen­er­a­tion come alive, there is a chance they could win this World Cup. Roberto Martinez has as built this team around Haz­ard and, with the am­mu­ni­tion from Kevin De Bruyne, the Chelsea man will be de­ter­mined to fire them to glory. He can do it in the Premier League. Now he must do it as Bel­gium’s cap­tain.


THIS 22-year-old winger is so tal­ented. He has a great strike on him m and is ca­pa­ble of scor­ing cor­ing goals from long range. With Real Madrid team-mate Isco in the squad there will be fierce com­pe­ti­tion for places in the Spain line-up. Once Asen­sio does get in the team, it will be very hard to dis­lodge him.


ONE player I’d love to o see play­ing in the Premier League. Le­wandowski is a proper cen­tre for­ward who holds up the ball and scores plenty of goals. He is yet to have a pro­lific tour­na­ment with Poland but this could be the year where that all changes.

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