The countdown continues and off the back of our Top 5 Defenders list here comes a piece on midfielders you’ll need to keep your eye on during the World Cup in Russia.
We start with a duo of Balkan boys who are ready to hit the stage on contrasting foundations and work our way through the continent with a look towards another three midfielder who could make a big impact both for their teams and the tournament in total.
Here goes nothing.
The Croatian superstar is in all likelihood heading towards his last World Cup. The Real Madrid playmaker is 32, but is showing no signs of slowing down after an imperial season with the Champions League winners.
Former Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspur star is under great scrutiny in his homeland for reportedly making false statements in a case against Zdravko Mamic and his brother, who are being accused of tax fraud and bribery in Dinamo Zagreb transfers since 2015 onwards.
Despite the allegations, Luka Modric is fully focused on helping his country record a notable result in Russia. As a leading figure in a group of highly talented midfielders – Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic – Modric is expected to be slotted in behind the strikers from where he would pull all the strings for Vatreni.
Luka Modric’s contrast – and not only by height – the Serbia star midfielder is getting ready for his maiden World Cup appearance.
The Lazio man missed the entire qualifying process due to a disagreement with former manager Slavoljub Muslin and is now expected to show his true worth as he prepares to give it all for his home country.
Following an impressive season with Lazio during which he managed to alarm the host of Europe’s top clubs, Milinkovic-Savic will not only be fighting for Serbia but for his own future as well.
Young, physically dominant and with a lethal skillset, the Sergeant as they call him in Italy will definitely be the one to watch at World Cup in Russia.
Eyes of the Brazilian nation will be set on Neymar and there’s no doubt about that. Firmino and Gabriel Jesus are another two players in the spotlight as Celecao pursue the World Cup glory in Russia.
Still, plenty will depend on the Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who’s endured a mixed season with the Catalans. The former Liverpool star was ineligible for the Champions League and took his time in settling into his new surroundings. The World Cup in Russia will be Coutinho’s chance to get back to his absolute best and take the reins of the team marching towards the coveted trophy.
The Eredivisie has long been recognised as a platform many talented players use to make names for themselves and announce themselves as emerging forces in world football.
And although much of this season’s focus has been placed on a talented generation of Ajax youngsters who are already turning plenty of heads across the continent, the Eredivisie champions PSV have been somewhat undeservedly marginalised.
Their star performer in particular – Hirving Lozano – who is expected to be a major force in Mexico’s World Cup run. The 22-year-old is emerging as the next big thing for Mexico. Having helped his nation claim the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship trophy back in 2015, Hirving Lozano is now ready to take his game to the brightest stage and establish himself as a worthy successor of Javier Hernandez – the most recognisable name in the Mexican squad.
Lozano has already grabbed 25 caps for Mexico, scoring seven goals during that time.
Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City midfielder kevin De Bruyne might have missed out on the Player of the Year Award in England but his effect to the Citizens’ title run has been well documented and credited.
De Bruyne was a centrepiece in Manchester City’s march to the League Cup and subsequently Premier League title with 13 goals and 19 assists in 53 matches for his club.
Roberto Martinez is set to deploy De Bruyne in the same position he plays at Manchester City. The Red Devils tend to go with a 4-3-3 which will see De Bruyne take responsibility of linking the lines of the team and providing Belgium with a much needed momentum going forward.
The 26-year-old is a huge creative force for Belgium and will also be a dead-ball threat. On top of it all, he makes a great contribution in defense which makes him an allround, complete midfielder who can take his team far.
Perhaps even until the very end, knowing that Belgium’s 11/1 betting odds put them among the top five teams – behind Brazil – seen as favourites to lift the trophy.
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