The greatest spectacle in the beautiful game, with millions watching as 32 teams create history and realise their dreams. We here at Outside of the Boot, as ever will focus our attention at the Young Players in this tournament. See all our 2018 World Cup coverage here.
Gabriel Jesus // Brazil // Striker // 21: The Manchester City forward is the player that will potentially do a lot of damage, and is a dark horse for the Golden Boot. The focus is bound to be on Neymar, and this could just allow his colleagues like Jesus to thrive. Jesus certainly has the talent to light up this stage, with pace, movement, and sharp finishing making him effective at club level. The striker can make a good pass or two as well, evidenced by the regular assists he makes at club level. Jesus has been a favourite of Tite’s since the coach took over, and the competition from Roberto Firmino should keep him on his toes through the tournament.
Nikola Milenkovic // Serbia // Defender // 20: The Fiorentina defender might not be an automatic pick in the starting line up thanks to the presence of experienced names like Branislav Ivanovic. It certainly wont be down to a lack of ability or temperament on his side thought. The youngster has acquitted himself very well in Serie A since his move in 2017. The tall defender has won 14 starts for La Viola over the course of the last season. A chance to start will be a great stage for him to impress.
Manuel Akanji // Switzerland // Defender // 22: One of the few defenders to feature in this list, the former Basel player earns his spot on the basis of his incredible performances. Most observers of the Swiss national team feel that it is only a matter of time before he replaces Johann Djourou in the middle of the Swiss defence alongside Fabian Schar. Akanji is tall, athletic, and fairly comfortable with the ball at his feet. He recently moved to Borussia Dortmund, and the bigger platform at club level, coupled with a good run at the World Cup will do wonders for his reputation and confidence.