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.
Andre Silva // Portugal // Forward // 22: Following his breakthrough campaign with Porto and subsequent move to AC Milan, Silva’s importance to the national set up has only grown. Potentially playing next to Cristiano Ronaldo in a 4-4-2 that could see the latter drift in the attacking third, allowing the 22-year-old play in between the lines, this World Cup could be Silva’s trump card. Whilst his place in the starting eleven is not guaranteed, he could well be an important figure in Portugal’s unlikely World Cup run following their Euros’ success.
Goncalo Guedes // Portugal // Midfielder // 21: Guedes is a couple of years younger than Andre Silva, but has been just as influential for Portugal in the run up to the tournament. The PSG man has been finding the back of the net with some regularity in the friendlies, continuing an excellent season with Valencia. With Ronaldo returning to the fold, Guedes might not have to take on goal scoring as much, but will need to shift to a slightly more creative brief. That being said, his work at Valencia persuades us that he will make a positive impact for his national side too.
Marco Asensio// Spain// Midfielder// 22: Real Madrid have been hit by the shocking resignation of Zinedine Zidane and the equally strange circus around Julen Lopetegui in recent days. That being said, they still have a number of jewels in the numerous crowns. Chief among them is the best Spanish youngster at the moment, Marco Asensio. The winger has been sensational for Real in the last few seasons, winning multiple Champions League crowns this early in this career. In recent years, Spain have been accused of lacking a Plan B. Asensio, with his pace and crossing is the perfect antidote. He may not be a starter, but as he has shown at club level, he can do serious damage coming on against tired legs late in a game.