The FIFA World Cup gets underway in Qatar in mid-November and this is the second time the tournament is being held in Asia.
While it might not be very wise to predict the eventual winner before the start of the tournament — as those predictions seldom come true — we can discuss a few players who can win the ultimate prize for their respective countries for the first time.
In this article, we are going to look at three such players, who ply their trade in the Premier League and have a great chance of winning their first World Cup in Qatar.
Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
De Bruyne is undoubtedly one of the finest ever footballers to have played in the Premier League and continues to sparkle in the league for Manchester City.
However, he has not seen much success with a Belgian national team that has flattered to deceive in the recent past despite possessing world-class players in almost every position — with the likes of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku being thirsty for some success with the national side.
Belgium have been drawn alongside Croatia, Morocco and Canada in a relatively easy group and might fancy their chances of a potential second-round match against Serbia or Switzerland.
However, should the Belgians finish second in the group, they might also face Brazil in the second round whom they beat in the quarterfinal of the 2018 World Cup.
De Bruyne will be the talismanic player for Belgium whichever formation they decide to start with. If the 31-year-old playmaker’s vision, passing and crossing abilities and the uncanny knack of scoring important goals for his club is replicated for the national side, it will be difficult to stop Belgium.
Bernardo Silva (Portugal)
Bernardo is yet another ridiculously talented midfielder who plays for Manchester City. At 28, Bernardo is in his prime and perfectly positioned to deliver the goods for the Portuguese.
Portugal have been drawn with Uruguay, South Korea and Ghana and it is not going to be easy to qualify from that group as South Korea – the most consistent Asian team – are playing in their own continent and Ghana is a skillful, yet physical, side.
Moreover, Uruguay has a rich history and tradition, hence Portugal will have to play well in the group stage to qualify. With Cristiano Ronaldo past his prime, Bernardo will probably be the key player for them.
It will also be interesting to see as which position he plays for them. Bernardo has played in a wide range of positions for his club — starting from the holding midfielder to the right or left winger. His versatility is a great trait to have and Portugal will need him to be in great touch in order to win their first ever World Cup.
Brazil have a number of wonderful talents upfront, with the likes of Neymar, Richarlison, Roberto Firmino, Vinicius, Rodrigo and Antony himself vying for places in the starting line-up.
However, as both Neymar and Vinicius prefer to play on the left flank, Antony might be the favorite to start on the right, given his impressive performance for Manchester United of late. His inclusion has made United a better side without any doubt.
Antony is a left-footed player who likes to cut inside from the right flank and then take shots at goal. He has also scored a few goals for United that way and his speed, agility and ball-skills make him a very valuable player.
Brazil are in a tricky group consisting of Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon and it will not be an easy task for them from the very beginning of the tournament.
It is Antony’s chance to make his mark on the biggest international stage and he might not let the opportunity go and could thereby help end Brazil’s 20-year-long World Cup drought.