The 2022 World Cup is fast approaching with the showpiece event in Qatar set to kick off on 21 November.
After the longest qualification campaign in recent memory, the 32 teams that will compete in the competition were revealed in June. As always, there is a mix of lovable underdogs, heavy favourites and sides that are a shadow of their former selves.
However, throughout the contingent of nations, there are plenty of talented stars for us to enjoy. Here is each team’s best player at the tournament.
Little is expected of the hosts who are made up entirely of domestic-based players.
Akram Afif – a tricky winger previously of Villarreal – will need to perform if they are to do anything in the tournament.
Former West Ham man Enner Valencia is still banging them in, but Moises Caicedo is perhaps more important for Ecuador.
The combative Brighton midfielder had racked up over 20 caps before his 21st birthday.
Sadio Mane will be hoping to lead an African side further than the quarter finals for the first time in World Cup history.
If anyone can produce the goods, it’s the former Liverpool man.
Centre-backs aren’t normally known as game-changers, but Virgil van Dijk is not a normal centre-back.
No one in world football comes close to Van Dijk in his position and he will be desperate to impress after missing out on the last three major tournaments.
Harry Kane took home the Golden Boot at the last World Cup and will be aiming to do the same again in Qatar.
There are many question marks hanging over Gareth Southgate’s selection heading into the tournament, but Kane’s spot up front is not one of them.
A couple of free-scoring seasons in Russia led to Sardar Azmoun being linked with a Premier League move.
He joined Bayer Leverkusen instead and remains Iran’s most important player.
USA are back at the World Cup and expectation is high.
Shouldering most of the pressure will be Christian Pulisic, who has not quite shown his best at club level in recent times.
It is unclear how long he will keep on playing after this World Cup, but one thing is certain – Gareth Bale remains Wales’ talisman.
If the Dragons are to get out of their group, the forward will be decisive.
Like Bale, Lionel Messi is reaching the tail end of his legendary career.
Is there any doubt that he is still their go-to guy? No, absolutely not. Could this be the year he adds the World Cup to his bulging trophy cabinet?
Saudi Arabia should be well supported in Qatar and the fans who make the short trip will be excited to watch international stalwart Salem Al-Dawsari.
He is one of a select group of Saudi players who have made it to Europe with Villarreal.
As much as we love Guillermo Ochoa pulling off wonder saves aged 36, Hirving Lozano is probably Mexico’s brightest hope heading into the tournament.
The Napoli forward is an accomplished carrier of the ball but sometimes lacks end product.
Few Polish players in the history game have left a legacy on the game like Robert Lewandowski – and he’s far from done.
One thing missing from his career is leading Poland deep into a tournament. Perhaps that will change this winter.
Florentino Perez may hate him, but France loves him.
After a disappointing Euro 2020, Mbappe has a point to prove at the World Cup with Les Bleus among the favourites again.
Andrew Redmayne’s sexy hips (and penalty-saving antics) might have stolen the show in their decisive World Cup playoff against Peru, but Mathew Ryan remains Australia’s number one goalkeeper.
He is also the Socceroo with the most experience at the top level.
Christian Eriksen has shown remarkable determination to return to his best after he suffered a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.
He was absolutely brilliant for Brentford in the second half of the 2021/22 season and has not been selected for this list out of sentiment.
Hannibal Mejbri could take his crown soon, but for now, Wahbi Khazri is Tunisia’s offensive talisman.
The forward has spent his entire career in France, one ill-fated move to Sunderland aside.
Some may say that it’s too early for Pedri to be considered his country’s best player. We think otherwise.
The teenager plays with the maturity of a 30-year-old veteran and always makes things happen in midfield.
Likely playing at his last World Cup, the greatest Costa Rican goalkeeper in history will be hoping to do his country proud in November.
He is set to be kept busy with games against Spain and Germany to come in the group stage.
There is no standout player in the Germany squad – they are strong across the board.
However, Joshua Kimmich has the potential to be a difference-maker at the World Cup, such is his ability to control the tempo of a game.
Japan could be dark horse to go far in this World Cup. Although they lack strength in depth there is a lot to like about their starting XI, especially Daichi Kamada.
The attacking midfielder spearheads a cast of hard-working, technical front players who will cause problems.
This selection won’t surprise you.
Kevin De Bruyne is probably the best midfielder in the world and has been for some time.
Canada’s lengthy wait for a World Cup will come to an end in November thanks in small part to Alphonso Davies.
The Bayern Munich left-back will be vital in both directions for his side.
Even if Hakim Ziyech did play for his country, Morocco’s best player is still Achraf Hakimi.
Very much one that got away for Real Madrid, Hakimi has been superb for first Inter and now PSG.
The timeless Luka Modric shows little sign of letting up, but this will surely be his last major tournament.
Modric helped Croatia waltz into the 2018 World Cup final, earning a Ballon d’Or for his efforts.
Vinicius Junior is threatening to usurp his position, however, Neymar remains his country’s top dog heading into the 2022 World Cup.
He will be desperate to stay fit, something he has not always managed to do in recent times.
This is a three-way toss up between Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Filip Kostic.
In the end we’ve gone for Kostic, the owner of the sweetest left foot in world football.
Much like with Serbia, Switzerland have several players who could take this crown.
Yann Sommer – one of the best goalkeepers in the Bundesliga for several years – takes the honour.
He might be a little rusty given his recent drug ban, but Andre Onana is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.
He’ll hope to adapt quickly to his new surroundings at Inter before jetting off to Qatar.
Portugal are full of grizzly veterans but none are more important than Cristiano Ronaldo.
We think his record speaks for itself.
Inaki Williams declaring for Ghana ahead of the 2022 World Cup was a huge boost for the Black Stars.
The supporting cast around him is not the strongest too, so he will need to produce something special.
Darwin Nunez is coming on strong but Federico Valverde’s experience at the top level just gives him the edge.
Valverde’s displays during Real Madrid’s run to the 2022 Champions League final made people sit up and took notice.
Few players on this list are as far ahead of their teammates than Son Heung-min.
The Spurs man is a genuine world class forward as he has repeatedly proved in recent seasons.