This article is part of our World Cup series.
The 2022 World Cup begins Nov. 20 and RotoWire will be releasing a steady stream of betting and fantasy content leading up to the tournament.
Fans worldwide are turning their eyes toward the superstars who will compete for the biggest prize in Qatar. These are five players to watch for the upcoming 2022 World Cup.
5 Players To Watch For The 2022 World Cup
1. Lionel Messi
Messi is many people's pick for the best player in the world and it's hard to argue that. The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has captivated the world for nearly two decades, but all things must come to an end, and this may be Messi's final World Cup. The Argentine magician has won every major title soccer has to offer, except one. Across four attempts at the World Cup, Messi has made just one final, taking home the silver medal in 2014.
With a world-class Argentina team surrounding him, there's no reason 2022 can't be one final piece of magic from the man who has taken over an entire sport since the minute he stepped on the pitch. Messi certainly doesn't seem to be slowing down, either, with seven goals in World Cup qualifying, as well as four goals and five assists during the 2021 Copa America, where he took home that title for the first time, as well.
Argentina's humiliating defeat to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday shocked the entire football world, with Saudi Arabia the +3300 outsiders in that game. This embarrassing defeat, one of the worst of his entire career, will surely spur Messi on to deliver a strong World Cup performance to try and restore some pride to La Albiceleste.
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2. Cristiano Ronaldo
It's impossible to mention Messi without mentioning Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner in his own right, and the face of a generation. The similarities don't stop there. Like Messi, Ronaldo has won everything there is to win, except for the World Cup. Ronaldo is on the warpath in the twilight of his career. In 2016, he took home the European Championship for the first time. In 2019, he took down the inaugural Nations League title in his home nation of Portugal.
After the Portuguese superstar confirmed that his love-affair with Manchester United has come to an end as of Tuesday after his worst ever start to a season, he will surely be even more determined to prove his doubters wrong, as he gears up to lead out his Portugal team against Ghana later today.
Still, the biggest prize of all has eluded one of the most lethal goalscorers and the 2022 World Cup will be his last chance. Ronaldo's every touch, pass, and shot will be a must-watch to fans around the globe as the famous No. 7 looks to lead his Portuguese side to World Cup glory in Qatar.
Neymar has carried the weight of Brazil's expectations on his shoulders since the age of 17 and in Qatar, that burden has never been more intense. Neymar and Brazil come into the 2022 World Cup as favorites despite falling to disappointment at Russia in 2018 and utter embarrassment at the hands of Germany at the Brazilians' home World Cup in 2014. Leading the Selecao is something special and pulling on the famous yellow shirt brings expectations, expectations that Neymar has yet to fulfill.
Still, the sublime Neymar has the chance to become the hero of a nation that loves him without reservation as he leads Brazil into Qatar. Near misses have followed Neymar recently, with silver medals in the 2020/21 Champions League and 2021 Copa America but his personal form hasn't dipped in the slightest. Neymar scored eight times and assisted eight more during World Cup qualifying, with the eyes of a nation firmly on the famous Brazilian No. 10, he is a must-watch at the 2022 World Cup.
4. Kevin De Bruyne
There is no team that has disappointed fans more than this Belgian golden generation and it falls on De Bruyne to prove they are more than the perennial semi-finalists. That's not to say this team isn't successful, as Belgium finished third in Russia 2018, taking home the bronze in the Nations League, as well. Yet the gold has eluded De Bruyne in every competition and with an aging core around him, the 2022 World Cup could be De Bruyne's last great chance for a World Cup title.
De Bruyne is the best midfielder in the world, blessed with nigh-on-omniscient vision and a right foot capable of absolute wizardry and with the ball he fills the highlight reel at will. De Bruyne contributed to 23 goals in the 2021/22 Premier League season on the way to his fourth title in England. The centerpiece of a world-beating Manchester City side, De Bruyne has shown his ability to single-handedly take over a match, an ability he will hope to show from the opening match against Canada on Nov. 23.
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5. Hugo Lloris
Lloris is the only goalkeeper on this list and that alone should speak to how impressive the French captain is. Lloris is a reigning World Cup champion after his heroics in Russia 2018 saw him lift his first World Cup title. In that tournament he conceded just six goals in seven matches and kept four clean sheets, a simply ridiculous clean sheet rate. The goalkeeper is aging like a fine French wine as well, during the World Cup qualifying stage he conceded just three goals in eight matches.
Lloris will be wearing the armband for France once more in Qatar and with the plethora of talent around him, there's nothing stopping Lloris from securing a second World Cup title. Les Bleus' captain has 139 caps which means he would pass Lilian Thuram to become France's most-capped player in the hypothetical Round of 16. Lloris is a calming constant for club and country, a last line of defense that is looking to end his storied international career with one last World Cup run.
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If you're looking for added World Cup information, we have injury reports, projected lineups and depth charts, as well as a bevy of betting and fantasy content, most of which can be found on our article hub.