5 superstars who will have a point to prove in the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Set to be held between November 20 and December 18 in Qatar, the 2022 FIFA World Cup promises to be a global footballing spectacle. Packing 32 brilliant teams and their crown jewels, the 29-day festival is guaranteed to gift football aficionados with unforgettable matches and jaw-dropping performances.

Except for Italy, almost all big footballing powerhouses have qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, meaning there will be no shortage of world-class footballers in Qatar. While each and every one of them will try to do their best, some are likely to be a tad extra determined. Some will look to drive home a point in front of millions of viewers at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at five world-class footballers who will have a point to prove at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar this year:

#5 Neymar — Brazil

Neymar's Brazil will start as favorites at 2022 FIFA World Cup
Neymar’s Brazil will start as favorites at 2022 FIFA World Cup

One of the most gifted players in world football right now, Neymar is set to serve as Brazil’s talisman at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Leading the most successful team in the history of the competition is hardly a straightforward affair. The weight of expectations alone can be crippling, causing even the most level-headed players to implode.

At the 2018 World Cup, Brazil started as one of the favorites to go the distance. They got out of their group without much issue and comfortably beat Mexico in the round-of-16. In the quarter-finals, however, they took on Belgium and succumbed to a 2-0 defeat. Their talisman Neymar failed to live up to the billing, getting a lot of flack for his diving and not stepping up in big games.

🇧🇷 Brazil is my pick for the World Cup. This version of Vinícius and Neymar is unstoppable. They will cook everyone.#WorldCup2022 https://t.co/IXJ57YwRxV

The Paris Saint-Germain forward, who has registered 11 goals and seven assists in 10 games for PSG this season, must set the record straight this year in Qatar. The country’s second-highest goalscorer (74 goals in 119 appearances) must make sure he makes headlines for the right reasons this time.

Neymar failed to inspire his team to Copa America glory last year, with the Selecao losing to bitter rivals Argentina in the final. Another disappointing campaign this year could do irreparable damage to Neymar’s legacy with Brazil.

#4 Harry Maguire — England

Germany v England: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 3
Germany v England: UEFA Nations League – League Path Group 3

Manchester United ace Harry Maguire has gotten a lot of flack for his club-level performances over the last couple of seasons. Despite his poor form for the Red Devils, he has been a regular for England under coach Gareth Southgate, producing decent performances in national colors.

In March, the divide between club and international football faded, as a section of fans booed Maguire during England’s 3-0 friendly win over Ivory Coast at Wembley (via Daily Mail). At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Maguire will have the perfect opportunity to show why he is an undisputed starter for Southgate despite his Manchester United struggles. If he can lead the team deep into the tournament and produce admirable performances, it could greatly improve his rapport with unconvinced fans.

Maguire has thus far represented the Three Lions in 46 games, recording seven goals and an assist.

#3 Cristiano Ronaldo — Portugal

2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar could be Cristiano Ronaldo's last
2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo has won every major trophy in football, except for the coveted World Cup. The 37-year-old, who is set to play his fifth World Cup this year, will look to finally complete his collection at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Of course, winning the most sought-after trophy in world football is easier said than done. The 2016 European champions have an admirable squad, but Ronaldo is still very much their undisputed talisman. If they are to go deep, Ronaldo must step up to the plate for Fernando Santos’ men.

Cristiano Ronaldo in the new Portugal kit for the World-Cup. 🤩 https://t.co/EAmOuYGk84

Ronaldo has endured a lackluster start to the 2022-23 campaign for Manchester United, scoring only once in eight appearances across competitions. The former Real Madrid man must improve tangibly if he wishes to make his mark in what could very well be his last-ever World Cup. A great display at the 2022 FIFA World Cup could not only boost Portugal’s chances of going the distance but would also establish Ronaldo as an undisputed clutch player.

The 2016 European champion has thus far represented Portugal’s senior team on 189 occasions, scoring 117 goals and claiming 42 assists. He has played 17 World Cup games in his career, scoring seven times and providing two assists.

#2 Lionel Messi — Argentina

Lionel Messi will be one of the players to watch at the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Lionel Messi will be one of the players to watch at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Argentine genius Lionel Messi is widely hailed as one of the most gifted footballers of all time. He has won it all in club football, and at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he will look to complete the set for his Argentina.

Messi, who will be competing in his fifth World Cup this year, came agonizingly close to lifting the World Cup with Argentina in 2014. La Albiceleste went all the way to the final, where they were ultimately beaten by Germany, with substitute Mario Gotze scoring the winning goal. Messi, who scored four goals and provided an assist in seven games that campaign, won the Golden Ball for his performances.

A lot has changed in the last eight years. Led by coach Lionel Scaloni, 2021 Copa America winners Argentina have a considerably more balanced team. This year, Messi’s Argentina will start as one of the favorites, and the onus will be on the PSG man to end his country’s 36-year-long World Cup drought.

Messi, who has scored 86 goals in 162 games for Argentina thus far, might not feature at the 2026 World Cup. The time is now for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner to showcase his often-criticized leadership traits and become an unshakable part of Argentina’s legacy.

#1 Eden Hazard — Belgium

Finland v Belgium - UEFA Euro 2020: Group B
Finland v Belgium – UEFA Euro 2020: Group B

From being Chelsea’s undisputed talisman to warming the bench at Real Madrid, the last couple of years have not been kind to Eden Hazard. Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, however, still considers him to be an integral part of the squad and is likely to give him a starting role at the 2022 World Cup.

An immaculate dribbler, potent goalscorer, and excellent playmaker, Hazard has an abundance of quality. The challenge for him would be to find consistency. Hazard must make it a point to get on the same wavelength as his teammates at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and take the chances that fall his way.

Belgium’s golden generation is yet to win anything significant. A good run at the 2022 FIFA World Cup is the least they can offer their country. And as one of the team’s senior-most members, the onus will be on Hazard to lead his teammates by example. A string of good performances at Qatar could also boost his chances of becoming a mainstay at Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid.

Hazard has thus far represented Belgium in 120 games across competitions, scoring 33 times and providing 36 assists.

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Edited by Sushan Chakraborty

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