With only a few months to go, the World Cup 2018 in Russia is in touching distance. We can almost taste the cheap beer and feel the sunburn from sitting in beer gardens throughout the months of June and July.
As we wait for the domestic season to wrap up, Jonathon Hague has his eye on five players who could elevate themselves to world beater status. To the most clued up football fans, these names will already be more than familiar, but for the casual fan, the World Cup could be the stage where they are introduced to these talents.
Timo Wener to win the Golden Boot @ 20/1 - BET NOW
Germany were left with a gapping hole up top after the all-time World Cup goal scorer, Miroslav Klose, bowed out on his international career after the 2014 final in Brazil. While not being the most prolific goal scorer at club level, the Polish born striker made a name for himself on the international stage as the master goal poacher netting 16 goals in four tournaments.
In RB Liepzig’s Timo Werner, Die Mannschaft have found their man to lead the line for the next generation of German football. The 21-year-old got his first taste of competitive international football at last summer’s Confederations Cup where Joaquim Low opted to take fringe players and young talent in a bid to give them tournament experience in advance of the 2018 World Cup.
Werner, along with the likes of Leon Goretzka and Julian Draxler, received plenty of plaudits and the forward eventually won the tournament’s Golden Boot with three goals and two assists. In 10 appearances for his country so far, the Leipzig forward has netted 7 times and with his impressive 53 appearances and 31 goal tally for his club side, the fact Werner is only 21 years old is frightening prospect.
Timo Werner currently has odds of 20/1 to win the Golden Boot at this summer’s tournament. The all-conquering nature of this generation of German players and Werner’s composure in front of goal could make the man to back over the likes of Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo.
Expect last summer’s Golden Boot winner to become a star this summer with Europe’s biggest club looking to secure his signature by September. Look forward to this man leading the Germans deep into many World Cups and European Championships in the future.
Spain to Win Outright @ 8/1 - BET NOW
Plenty has been said about this Real Madrid attacking midfielder, who has shown plenty of promise over the past season to see him step up in the World Cup for La Selección Roja. At 22, he is already showing maturity beyond his years with outstanding performances against Barcelona and generally appearing the spark in an otherwise misfiring Real Madrid this season when on the field.
Morata is proving that he isn’t the striker many believed he would be at Chelsea and Los Blancos teammate Isco is not getting game time required leading up to the World Cup, so Lopetegui could favour the youngster as an impact sub to change games deeper into the competition.
Spain have had some rough rides since their golden generation won three international tournaments back-to-back, Spain look to be returning to their best after cruising through qualifying and seeing a new generation of talent replacing the likes of Torres, Xabi Alonso and David Villa (despite his small international comeback recently). They are currently priced at 8/1 and fourth favourites. Definitely expect them to improve on their disastrous performance in Brazil four years ago.
Uruguay to Win outright @ 33/1 - BET NOW
While Asensio and Werner are already well on their way to becoming household names in football, Maxi Gómez is a relatively new name on the scene. The 21-year-old Uruguayan is currently having a fantastic first season in La Liga for Celta Vigo, netting 13 times and assisting twice. Not bad considering the names above him for the Pichichi are Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, Iago Aspas, Antonie Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite only having two apps for Uruguay so far, the potential force upfront of Luis Suárez, Edinson Cavani, Christian Stuani and Maxi Gómez could provide the South American side with plenty of goals this World Cup. Gómez currently averages a goal every other game in his career and with the other three strikers mentioned probably in their final World Cup, Maxi Gómez is the new generation of Uruguayan that will be looking to emulate the country’s past achievements on the World stage. Priced at 33/1, could Uruguay be dark horses in Russia?
Brazil to Win Outright @ 5/1 - BET NOW
Brazil’s rebuild since their 7-1 embarrassment to Germany back in 2014 has been nothing short of remarkable. Gone are the deadwood (Fred, Hulk etc) and in are Casimero, Firmino, Coutinho and the latest in a long line of incredible, Brazilian strikers, Gabriel Jesus. Avid fans of the Premier League will be well aware of the Brazilian’s qualities, Pep Guardiola has dropped Sergio Aguero for him on numerous occasions, but now it's time for him to make his mark for Brazil.
Jesus’ off-the-ball movement is a strength of his that has impressed Guardiola as he looks to cut inside from the wing and catch defences off guard through the channels. For Brazil so far, he has scored 8 times in thirteen appearances and forming part of a deadly strike force which is going to cause the best defences problems in Russia.
There is a lot of expectation on this Brazil side to rescue the pride the country lost in the World Cup in their own country and they are currently 5/1 favourites to win the competition. Coach Tite has got the country believing again and playing what many in the country to be the ‘Brazilian way’ again. Expect plenty of link up play between Coutinho, Neymar and Jesus in Russia and for them to bag plenty of goals as this looks like a new Golden Generation of Brazil player.
Serbia to Qualify @ 6/4 - BET NOW
Already linked to the North West of England, Manchester United and Liverpool target Sergej Milinkovi?-Savi? could see his stock rise massively in the summer if he can help pull the strings in the middle of the park of Serbia. At 23 years old, the Spanish born midfielder is a workforce in the centre who is equally comfortable creating and taking chances in the offense as he is doing the dirty work in defence.
Strong in the air and in duels on the pitch, the Lazio man is one player you don’t want to come up against and with his physical attributes you can see why Premier League teams are after him. Yet despite, his poor passing average he has a way of opening up defences much like that of RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita. His threat in attack has made him one of the best players in Serie A in a resurgent Lazio side that in recent years has failed to live up to their reputation.
Serbia are in a strong group that consists of 5-time World Cup winners Brazil, 2014 Quarter-finalists Costa Rica and a Switzerland side who dropped three points in qualifying and were unfortunate not to qualify automatically for this year’s championship. They will need the likes of Milinkovic-Savic and Valencia’s Maksimovic to step up in the big stage, despite their lack of international football experience, to ensure that Serbia can progress pass the group stage for the first time since they became a single country.
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