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Old 06-08-2018, 02:20 PM
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Default FIFA World Cup 2018: Five Midfielders to Watch Out For in Russia

FIFA World Cup 2018: Five Midfielders to Watch Out For in Russia

The FIFA World Cup is just round the corner and more often than not, it's the midfielders who decide how far their teams will progress in the tournament. There are quite a few examples, be it Pirlo in 2006, Iniesta in 2010 or James Rodriguez in 2014, when midfielders lit up the tournament with their display and set their teams on course.


Toni Kroos during a training session. (Twitter/ Bayern & Die Mannschaft)


The FIFA World Cup is just round the corner and more often than not, it's the midfielders who decide how far their teams will progress in the tournament. There are quite a few examples, be it Pirlo in 2006, Iniesta in 2010 or James Rodriguez in 2014, when midfielders lit up the tournament with their display and set their teams on course.

We now take a look at five midfielders who are likely to set the stage on fire in 2018:

1. Paul Pogba (France) - France go into the tournament as one of the favourites on paper. The squad looks to be one of the finest French teams in the recent past. Benzema, Rabiot, Martial are few of the players Deschamps has decided to leave out of the team. But all eyes will be on the enigmatic Paul Pogba. He has had a roller-coaster seasons, showing only sparks of the kind of talent he displayed at Juventus. One of the reasons behind it has been the way Mourinho has used the midfielder, playing him alongside Matic, thus burdening him with the defensive responsibilities. In the French side, he will be given the creative freedom and will have the likes of Tolisso and Kante to support him. In attack, he has the likes of Mbappe, Griezmann, Dembele, Lemar - depending on how Deschamps chooses to line-up. Pogba will have to be the torchbearer if France is to lift the World Cup. Former midfielder Robert Pires has already said that Pogba will have to be the leader of this generation and take more responsibility. His off-field antics often leaves the fans and experts enraged. But is Russia the place where the charismatic Pogba finally deliver on the field?

2. Isco (Spain) - Isco's has been a rather peculiar case, he hasn't been playing consistently for Real Madrid but whenever he has got the chance for La Roja, he has always been the standout performer. Who can forget the way he single-handedly dismantled big guns like Italy and Argentina - scoring a brace and hat-trick respectively. He seems to be one of the few players who enjoys the pressure of playing in the national team and likes to take responsibility. Julen Lopetegui is likely to trust the 26-year-old with a lot of that and along with David Silva, Isco will be the main architect in a star-studded midfield. It will also be Iniesta's final World Cup and he will be passing over the baton to Isco, whether he can deliver like the former Barcelona man did at the big stage is what remains to be seen.

3. Toni Kroos (Germany) - Toni Kroos remains one of the finest central midfielders in the world. He played a key role in Germany's 2014 triumph and will be expected to shoulder the majority of the responsibility in the midfield. His pinpoint accuracy and vision are an envy of any player. He can shoot from distance and goes about doing his job in a quiet manner. He has won three consecutive Champions League titles with Real Madrid but if he manages to bring his A-game into the tournament, then you can be rest assured that Germany will seal back-to-back World Cup titles.Fi

4. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) - Again, another player who had a stellar season for his club was Kevin De Bruyne. He performed better than Eden Hazard in 2014, but Belgium disappointed yet again, bowing out in a rather tamed manner against Argentina. The expectations are once again high from Belgium, with team already being termed as the 'Golden generation' and even being ranked no.1 in the FIFA rankings. But they haven't been past the quarterfinals in big tournaments. Lack of experience has often been used as one of the excuses for their underperformance, but this team has been together for a while and most of the players are coming into the tournament on the back of some good form. De Bruyne will have the likes of Hazard, Lukaku, Carrasco and Witsel among others with him. His creativity in the midfield and also how he links up with Lukaku will be the key for Belgium going ahead in the tournament.

5. Casemiro (Brazil) - Though all eyes will certainly be on Neymar in Brazil's World Cup campaign, but considering the fact that he is coming back after a serious injury, he will require a complete effort if Brazil are to bury the ghosts of the 2014 campaign. Casemiro is not among the first player that comes to mind when one thinks of Brazilian flair, but the job he has done at Real Madrid in the defensive midfielder role is exactly what Brazil will require to protect a shaky defence. He can contribute with some important goals for his team as well. He will need to be on his A game if Brazil are to lift their 6th World Cup.

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