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Top 10 Players to Watch and Bet On at the 2022 World Cup

As the highlight of world football draws ever closer, the greatest players across the globe are preparing to showcase their talent at the 2022 World Cup. In tournaments gone by, we can all recall memorable performances, either from established stars of the game or from youngsters who have used the global stage to burst onto the scene. Despite there being some high-profile omissions from this year’s tournament in names such as Mohamed Salah or Erling Haaland, there are still plenty of players to keep an eye on.

The tournament is likely to be a final showdown between two of the all-time greats, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the latter due to be 41 when the next tournament takes place in 2026. Both head to Qatar dreaming of closing their illustrious careers with a World Cup winner’s medal. With the stage set, we look at some of the potential stars of the tournament and consider some of the promising bets that may take your fancy.

Kylian Mbappé, France – Les Bleus Driving Force

It is no surprise that many global experts believe the PSG and French forward will have a memorable tournament in Qatar. Previously in Russia, he had four goals and one assist. Known for his pace and merciless finishing, Les Bleus will be depending on him if they are to overcome some disappointing performances in the Nation’s League and make a stake for World Cup glory.

Top Bet: Golden Boot Winner. While the odds may be relatively short, placing a stake against Mbappé to end the tournament as the top goal scorer and walk away as the winner of the Golden Boot won’t raise many eyebrows.

Thibaut Courtois, Belgium – Aiming for a Second Golden Glove

Heading to Qatar in a rich vein of form, Courtois is striving to become the first goalkeeper in tournament history to retain the accolade of the Golden glove, which he was awarded in 2018. His height and reach make him a commanding figure at the back. With the Red Devils seen by many as an outside bet to win the tournament, there should be plenty of opportunities for the Real Madrid star to showcase his shot-stopping abilities.

Top Bet: Belgium to keep a clean sheet. Taking their place in Group F alongside Canada, Morocco, and Croatia, experts are expecting Belgium to ease through to the knockout stages. Putting your faith in Courtois to ensure some clean sheets along the way should prove a tempting bet.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal – Arguably the Greatest of All Time

When discussing the stars of the World Cup, it would be impossible not to mention Ronaldo. Having won five Ballon d’Or awards and 32 trophies in his career, he is seen by many as the greatest player of all time. He is heading to Qatar for what is expected to be his final World Cup. He is the all-time leading goalscorer in international football, having found the back of the net 117 times in 189 appearances.

Top Bet: Ronaldo to Score and Portugal to Win. With group matches against Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea, many will be expecting to see Portugal notch up a few wins in Qatar, and with the scoring pedigree of Ronaldo, backing him to find the back of the net in a Portugal win is an appealing wager.

Pedri, Spain – An Exceptional Young Talent

At just 19 years of age, the Barcelona midfielder is seen as an exceptional talent thanks to his technical control and creative flair. Having won the accolade of “Best Young Player” at Euro 2020, he will be aiming to emulate his success on the global stage. Although injury kept him off the pitch for much of last season, he has worked his way back to full fitness and is expected to be a key asset in La Roja’s quest for glory in Qatar.

Top Bet: Golden Ball Winner. The ‘Golden Ball Award’ is given to the player who has been seen to make the best and most outstanding contribution. If Spain live up to expectations, then backing Pedri to walk away with this accolade should be a decent shout.

Vinícius Júnior, Brazil – Capable of Overshadowing Neymar

Since winning La Liga and netting the winner in the Champions League final, 2022 is already a year the player commonly referred to as Vini Jr. won’t forget. The Real Madrid player is dynamic, skilful, possesses some breath-taking pace and has been described by fellow countryman, Neymar, as one of the best players in the world. It is no surprise Brazil’s talented midfielder is a player everyone’s eyes will be on in Qatar.

Top Bet: First Goalscorer. Although Vini Jr. won’t be leading the line for Brazil, that responsibility falls to the prolific Neymar. He will undoubtedly be a constant attacking threat. Staking a wager against him to bag the first goal in a match is an interesting option, particularly when they come up against weaker opponents such as Switzerland or Cameroon, where chances should be plenty.

Jude Bellingham, England – A Boost to England’s Prospects

Since swapping Birmingham for Borussia Dortmund in a £22.75m transfer, the 19-year-old talent has established himself as one of the future stars of the game. Boasting quick feet, an ability to commit opponents and a superb technical understanding of the game, he is a dream asset for Southgate and his Three Lions and is expected to be a shining light of the tournament.

Top Bet: Best Young Player. Presented for the first time at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the award is given to an individual who is 21 or younger. Although there are a number of young talents looking to make their mark in Qatar, Bellingham seems to be a likely bet as many fans see him as the key to helping England lift only their second World Cup and a first since 1966.

Lionel Messi, Argentina – Another All-Time Great

In a list that mentions Cristiano Ronaldo, it would be amiss not to mention his arch-rival, the Argentinean captain, Lionel Messi. Another player in the twilight of a glittering career, which was spent entirely at Barcelona before a move to PSG in 2021. Although the pace and stamina he once possessed may be diminishing, the 35-year-old is still a matchwinner. As national team coach, Scaloni has built a system that ensures he only has one responsibility: to create and score goals. He enters the tournament in rich form. Having set the 2021 Copa America alight with four goals on the way to lifting the trophy, he will be hoping it’s a World Cup winners’ medal around his neck come the final on Sunday 18th December.

Top Bet: Score/Win Cast. Backing Messi to find the back of the net with his wonderous left foot feels like a safe bet. But why not consider increasing the stakes by including whether you think his national side will win in the same match? If you’re feeling even more confident, you can choose the correct scoreline. While the stakes and potential rewards will increase, this does have its risks.

Joshua Kimmich, Germany – The Lynchpin of German Hopes

Versatile and comfortable in a range of positions, the Bayern Munich defensive midfielder is one of the most significant parts of Flick’s squad. Known for his commitment and passion, he will be one of the first names on the team sheet. His role for Germany will be to win the key battles in the centre of the pitch to drive his team forward. Recognised for his fiery temperament, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the opposition saw him as a key marker for provocation. If Germany is to find success in Qatar, the form of Kimmich will be key.

Top Bet: Player to be Carded. Within matches, you will be able to select players who you believe will find their way into the referees’ book. With some tough matches and a showdown with European heavyweights, Spain, in Group E, we’re suggesting Kimmich may well find himself carded during the World Cup as that fiery temperament boils over. The challenge will be to select which match you think this may occur in.

Weston McKennie, USA – A Goalscoring Force

With familiar names such as Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic filling the United States squad, picking a standout to watch is not as easy as in years gone by. However, we’re focusing on Weston McKennie. The Juventus midfielder has a lot of stamina and combines tough tackling with the ability to score from long range. If the Stars and Stripes are going to have a tournament to remember, they will undoubtably be relying on McKennie to drive them forward.

Top Bet: Anytime Goalscorer. While many don’t see the USA going deep into the tournament, they will still have hopes of reaching the knockout phase. Perhaps not the most likely goalscorer for the Stars and Stripes, but backing McKennie to find the net is a plausible possibility. If you foresee one of his long-range efforts finding the back of the net, this market could reward you with some appealing odds.

Jonathan David, Canada – Canada’s Secret Weapon

With a goals per game ratio of approximately 0.75, it is difficult to look past David when it comes to looking at Canada’s most likely players to hit the back of the net. At only 21, he already has 18 international goals to his name, but perhaps more impressively, he reached that number after only 24 appearances. Although expectations for Canada in Qatar are low, this is a young talent we expect to further enhance his pedigree.

Top Bet: Last Goalscorer in a Match. This market is one that will be sure to keep you on the edge of your seat until the final whistle as you back which player or team you think will score last in the game. With his goalscoring record and constant attacking threat, this could be one of the more unusual markets that could help earn you some winnings during Qatar 2022.

Will There Be an Unexpected Star?

These are only ten of the stars who we think could be about to set the global stage alight. But there are always some unexpected talents that rise to the forefront. Keep a close eye on the matches and results to help inform where best to place your stake as the tournament progresses.

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