Ten stars of World Cup most discussed and controversial in the history of football. The first to be held in winter, the first to be held in the Middle East. Ten men who aspire to the throne of king of football in the tournament where the world showcases itself. Sunday begins Qatar 2022 and this is the top 10 of the champions that we will admire. And no, there aren’t any Italians.
Defending champion, star announced. Arrogant, sometimes obnoxious, someone who gets into his business and plays for himself rather than for others. But he always makes the difference. Four years ago in Russia his star suddenly appeared, bright and beautiful. Today the champion who best represents the modern era he can do an encore, confirming that the Qatari sheikhs – when they convinced him to stay at PSG – were not wrong in identifying him as the spot champion of the tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
When we were kings. IS his Last dance. It comes from the most tormented period of his career, before leaving he sanctioned the break with Manchester United. At 36 years of age, CR7 is essentially a single man and a champion who has entered the avenue of sunset. Qatar 2022 is his last call.
In the fifth World Cup of his extraordinary career (his debut was in 2006), the Parisian Leo Messi – back to his former glory after a gray year – must try to detach himself from the eternal shadow of Diego Armando Maradona. Only in this way will he be able to conquer those people who still live in the memory of the Pibe. To escape the news, to enter the legend.
A juggler, a champion, an unfinished. A spoiled child never grown up, a man still unfulfilled. Someone who has found his comfort zone in Paris, someone who thrives on lightning. Brazil is at Neymar’s feet. Now or never. Selecao – which hasn’t won a World Cup for twenty years (the last triumph in Korea-Japan in 2002) relies on the most talented but also the most unpredictable of modern champions. Or everything. Or nothing.
De Bruyne (Belgium)
In the football of this fabulous number 10 the history of the ball is summed up: movements of the Netherlands of Total Football, the imagination of Brazil, the European discipline. His manager at City – Pep Guardiola – made him a complete champion. Not just a team man, but a team that became a man. The only question is: will Belgium be able to live up to his genius?
Sadio Manè boarded the plane leaving for Qatar at the last moment – recovering from an injury – he entrusted himself to a sorcerer not to miss the most important appointment of his life. He has already considered having to give up the first two matches of the World Cup, but he is convinced that Senegal will go ahead in the tournament: at that point, like a superhero, he will come out of nowhere and descend onto the grass to show miracles.
Awarded a few weeks ago by Golden Ball«father of the best centre-forward in the world» (quoted by Carlo Ancelotti) is ready to form with Kylyan Mbappè the strongest striker duo in the World Cup and to shoulder the responsibility of demonstrating that reigning champion France is up to the two great favourites, Argentina and Brazil.
The feline movements, the intoxicating dribbling, the deadly shot. At the moment, the 23-year-old Leao is clearly the best player in Serie A. Will he be able to make a difference at the World Cup too? It depends on how he will handle his indolence, his true Achilles heel. Look at him, when he plays: now he charms, now he hangs around, like an old teenager busy doing nothing in front of a closed bar.
The least advertised of the modern champions is ready to make its mark. Korea can’t win the World Cup, but they can go a long way. And a lot will depend on the inspiration of this boy who is so shy and well-mannered off the pitch – Antonio Conte who coaches him at Tottenham says he is “the perfect boyfriend that every father dreams of for his daughter” – and so fierce on the pitch. They are all good, but he (Son) more.
To see him – thin, fragile, almost frightened – you wouldn’t give him two euros. But Pedri is not only a lion: he is the brain of Spain that always looks to the future and like no other national team is capable of continuous renewal, rejuvenating the team and introducing new forces. Most talented of the Spanish Next Gen it is precisely this 19-year-old made with wire, starlet of Barcelona and prince in search of glory.
– Because Maradona is still with us
– From Benzema to Leao, football crowns its new kings
– Qatar 2022: the world is at the World Cup (minus Italy)
Source: Vanity Fair
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