Players expected to light up the 2022 FIFA World Cup

We are just a few months to the biggest football showpiece in the world – the FIFA World Cup. This edition will be extraordinary, occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that it is played towards the end of the year.

Nations have been allowed to name squads of 26 players so we will have space for more stars to come up as the ready-made ones get the stage to showcase their best.

Before we even look at the players we expect to shine at this tournament, it will be important to brush over which teams will be heading to Qatar as favourites. As things stand, Lucas Paqueta's Brazil are billed favourites to end their 20-year wait for the world title. Their last win was in Asia, and this could come with some significant promise. Defending champions France will not go to the competition in really great form but they have an outside chance, just as Argentina, Spain and Thilo Kehrer's Germany.

The above teams are tipped favourites because of the number of star players involved, but there are also squads with a great team but not individual players. Teams like Denmark for example, who may not rank high in the World Cup predictions on SportyTrader but have a good unit and a group of players that have played together for a while.

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Right on to the players then, one of the easiest picks remains Kylian Mbappe, the French youngster who recently bagged a massive deal to see him stay at PSG at the height of a lengthy chase from Real Madrid. At 23, Mbappe has now matured well and is aware of the responsibilities on his shoulders. He scored four as France won the world title in Russia and he is now tipped to win the Golden Ball in Qatar. It is hard to argue against this, given his form this season.

In Spain, there is a gem being crafted, in the shape of Pedri. At 19 only Pedri has already made over 70 first team appearances for one of the biggest clubs in the world – Barcelona. He will still be a teenager when the World Cup kicks off and if he can avoid injury, he should be one of the youngest players at the competition. Spain are among the favourites going to the World Cup and if this billing will come to fruition, players like Pedri will be the ones to watch.

Argentina star Lionel Messi represents the old guard set to leave the scene. While he still has a lot to offer, it is very likely this will be Lionel Messi’s final World Cup appearance. Messi is 35 and is expected to be among the oldest players at the competition. He recently guided Argentina to winning the Copa America and will want to bow out in style. His season at PSG has started well so far and if he can stay injury-free, this could be his tournament.

One other star to track at the 2022 World Cup will definitely be Vinicius Jr. The Brazilian youngster has settled in well at Real Madrid and is enjoying his game under Carlo Ancelotti. He grabbed headlines last season as he scored 22 goals and provided 20 assists as Real Madrid won the league and Champions League titles. At 22 years and already playing at the big stage, perhaps Vini will shine more than Neymar Jr at this year’s competition.

Canada presents another exciting team coming to the FIFA World Cup. Co-hosts in the next World Cup finals, they will definitely want to do well in Qatar, and core to such ambitions is Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies. The 21-year-old left back is one of the best players not just in his left-back position, but also from the CONCACAF region. No player in the Canadian team has a higher profile and Davies will be aware of what that comes with. His country may not be among the favourites but Davies will surely light up the competition.

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