Hype

 

Young Guns to Watch at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

 

 


The World Cup can make or break a young player. Who’s going to steal the limelight, and who’ll be riding the pine for their national team in Russia? Let’s take a look at the young guns that could shake up the World Cup this year.

Paulo Dybala - Argentina

Paulo Dybala
Image Credit: Epsilon / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

It’s no secret that Argentina underperformed in the lead up to the World Cup, their run left hanging in the balance as late as October’s 0-0 draw with Peru.

Enter Paulo Dybala, at 23 years of age the diminutive Argentine is already being compared to that other diminutive Argentine. Lionel Messi.

While comparisons to one of the greatest players of all time might be a little premature, Dybala’s early efforts with Italian champions Juventus show he’s player who is confident in tight spaces with the vision to find a teammate and deadly precision in front of goal.

For Argentina to succeed at this year’s World Cup, coach Jorge Sampaoli needs more firepower and creativity upfront. Dybala could be the player to help drive the Albiceleste forward. Perhaps the only thing that’s holding him back is he’s so much like Messi, so there might not be room enough for both to dominate.



Ousmane Dembele - France

Ousmane Dembele
Image Credit: NurPhoto / Getty Images

With all the focus on striker Kylian Mbappe, it’s easy to forget there’s another huge youngster up front for France. Ousmane Dembele may only be 20 years old, but he’s shown enough early on for Barcelona to shell out $160 million to secure his services.

Lightning quick with dazzling control, he many not always finish well, but Dembele is enough of a handful to worry defenders. Between Mbappe, Dembele and Antoine Griezmann the Socceroos will have a lot to contend with when they meet Les Blues in Kazan on June 16.



Isco - Spain

Isco
Image Credit: fotopress / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez, better known as Isco, typifies Spain’s resurgence into a genuine threat in 2018. Whether it’s on the field for Real Madrid or playing for his national team, the 25-year-old is assured, crafty and brings his fair share of goal scoring power to the attacking third.

A footballer’s footballer, Isco might not be the biggest name at the tournament (or even on his team) but with several of Spain’s more established midfielders approaching the end of their careers, 2018 might be Isco’s breakout tournament.



Timo Werner – Germany

Timo Werner
Image Credit: Jefferson Bernardes / AFP / Getty Images

At 21 years of age, Timo Werner has already tasted victory at the highest level, helping his country claim the Confederations Cup in June. Playing at the pointy end of a formidable German side, the RB Leipzig powerhouse is supported by the likes of Mesut Ozil in attack, giving the young striker an opportunity to shine on the world stage.

There’s added pressure (and glory) for the rising star. Germany are defending champions. If they can win back to back World Cups, they’ll be the first to do so since Brazil in 1962.



Arthur – Brazil

Arthur
Image Credit: Jefferson Bernardes / AFP / Getty Images

Arthur’s bland nom de guerre disguises a player who’s natural skill is complimented by tenacity in the tackle. With the ability to win the ball, turn on a dime and find that killer final pass, the subtle 21-year-old is rumoured to be courted by big name Premier League clubs and possibly Barcelona.

But before all that he’ll have the chance along with fellow midfielders Casemiro, Fernandinho and Paulinho to claim a spot in the Brazilian XI and have a major impact for Tite’s Selecao in June.



Aaron Mooy - Australia

Aaron Mooy

At 27, Mooy might not be strictly a young gun, but his meteoric rise has us wondering How much better can it get?

To be fair, the Sydney born midfielder has always looked likely to crack it at the national level. An unsuccessful stint marred by injury saw him return to Australia from the UK in his early 20s, where he drifted from Western Sydney Wanderers to Melbourne City.

It was with the Manchester City feeder club we saw the playmaker come alive, living up to the promise that many pundits knew he already possessed.

Mooy’s stocks are boosted by the presence of Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan, two experienced midfielders who can take pressure off Mooy in his own half and free him up creatively.

Two footed, with the vision to see a pass and the skill to pull it off, the Huddersfield talisman is a different sort of player to the great Timmy Cahill, but arguably just as important in the scheme of things. Australia are in desperate need of someone to step up and fill the playmakers role left by Bresciano.

Mooy has the opportunity to become a standout for the Socceroos in 2018. Let’s hope he takes yet another chance that falls his way.

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