Lionel Messi will have only one thing in his mind – the crowning glory to his great career by fulfilling a World Cup dream.
He was nearly there in the 2014 edition when Argentina eventually went down 1-0 to Germany. But nothing short of the World Cup 2018 this time will be enough for Messi.
He is rated the best player in the world. At 30, he is at the peak of his game. He will need to translate that into a win for his team. He will be heavily marked. His movement will be restricted by his opponents. But Messi has the ability to move swiftly and score. And he knows this may be his last chance to make a huge mark on the world stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be trying to steal the thunder from Messi each time. The two have always jostled each other to win the Best Footballer title.
The Portugal superstar is now 33 and this certainly should be his last big chance in the World Cup. However, he will need all his nimble footwork and striking skills to move his team forward.
That will be a tough ask as Portugal face Spain earlier on and the oad ahead is tough.
While Messi and Ronaldo will battle it out, Neymar will be hoping that he grabs his chance well in this edition. Neymar’s constant ineffectiveness had put Brazil in a tight spot in the last edition. Since then, Brazil have come back hard and have their hopes high of adding to their kitty of cups.
At 26, Neymar still has more time to bloom as a player. But a title now for his team will cement his place among the greats of the game forever.
On the other hand, Thomas Muller of Germany will hope to add more to his tally of 10 goals in the World Cup. Muller is a goal scorer. He is not flashy but is extremely cool in attack. His goal-scoring abilities have driven the team forward in each of the Cups he has played.
Spain’s Andres Iniesta will be seen in action for the last time in the World Cup as he has already announced his retirement from the game. He was the man who brought the Cup to Spain in 2010 by scoring the winning goal.
He is the best midfielder in the business and his calmness under pressure must be admired. He is fast, has the ability to beat the field and pass superbly. He will be sorely missed after the tournament.
But there are others too seeking to use the World Cup as a platform to make a name for themselves and take a step from good to great.
Mo Salah of Egypt is a sight to behold when his country takes the field. He has speed, ability and a sound passing technique which helped him surface from nowhere last year. But the World Cup is a different matter altogether. This is his moment to prove he is no flash in the pan.
The world’s focus will also be directed at Luis Suarez of Uruguay who courts controversies whenever he steps on the field. But there is no denying that he is a brilliant player and if he stays clean, he could make his team a dark horse in the tournament.
Every team has at least one champion player who can make or break his side. The story has begun and the world will wait and watch how it unfolds and who will be the hero and who the villain.