Kevin De Bruyne to Frenkie De Jong: Top Midfielders Playing The FIFA World Cup 2022
The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar will see some of the game's best midfielders playing for football's most coveted trophy.
In 18 days, football's biggest event, the FIFA World Cup 2022, will start with Qatar scripting various histories. A total of 32 teams will head to Qatar, for the first-ever winter world cup held in the middle east. The upcoming trophy event will see the best of midfielders, among others, displaying their skills as their teams strive to win football's most coveted trophy.
Midfielders are game-changers, they make a significant contribution by assisting attackers and providing them with goal-scoring opportunities and passes that can lead to goals. Midfielders make crucial interceptions for defenders, blocking dangerous through balls and changing the game in seconds by leading counterattacks on the opponent. They are the central focus of a manager's strategy and quite often determine and change the game. A midfielder's role is best explained by the player himself. In the words of former Spanish midfielder and 2010 World Cup winner Xabi Alonso, "If you have control of the midfield, you have control of the game, and you have more chances to win."
From the iconic Andres Iniesta to Johan Cruyff, here's a look at some of the top midfielders who will play at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Kevin De Bruyne - Belgium
When Manchester City bought Kevin De Bruyne for £60 million in 2015, British media was quick to call the Belgian a "Chelsea flop", and "The £60m Reject". Fast forward to 2022, when De Bruyne's trophy cabinet includes four Premier League titles with Manchester City and two Premier League Player of the Season individual titles.
With the national squad, De Bruyne is one of the crucial members of the Belgian Red Devils' golden generation. He brings with him the experience of featuring in two previous World Cups (Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018) and will be a key figure for coach Roberto Martínez and Belgium's 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar.
Frenkie De Jong - Netherlands
Firsts are always special and for Frenkie de Jong, the wait to feature in a World Cup for the Oranje is finally coming to an end. Ever since his breakthrough season with Ajax back in 2018-19, there has been no stopping De Jong with the midfield being his territory. From passing to dribbling, De Jong is a versatile midfielder with impeccable technique who makes the game difficult for opponents.
For coach Louis Van Gaal, the presence of Frenkie De Jong in the squad provides loads of tactical options. The FC Barcelona midfielder has strong defensive skills including interceptions, tackles and clearance to attacking prowess. De Jong is known for know for managing vital passes and crosses that turn into goal-scoring opportunities. Fans in Qatar will get to see the iconic "De Jong turn" which will help the Netherlands score more goals.
Luka Modrić - Croatia
The winner of the coveted Ballon D'or trophy in 2018, Modrić is a legend both at the club and country levels. Modrić is often considered the greatest Croatian footballer of all time and one of the best midfielders in the history the game has ever witnessed. For Croatia, he has played the most matches among all his teammates. He was the central figure of the Croatian men's team that went to the finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Croatia lost to France 2-4 but Luka Modrić's heroics saw him getting bestowed with the Adidas Golden Ball as the best player of the 2018 World Cup.
For many Croatian footballers, it is an ultimate dream to play for the nation alongside captain Luka. With a World Cup silver medal and the experience of featuring in four World Cups, Modrić will be flying to Qatar, hoping to settle a pending score and inspire Croatia to script another fairytale. The streets of Zagreb will never forget the heroics of Modrić in 2018 and his iconic outside-the-box goal against Lionel Messi's Argentina in the group stage.
Toni Kross, Thomas Müller - Germany
Toni Kross and Thomas Müller represent experience, flair and midfield dominance like no other. They were pivotal for the German squad that won the FIFA World Cup trophy in 2014. Thomas Müller has been an example of versatility where the Raumdeuter poaches for space in the attacking third before providing a goal-scoring opportunity for his team. He won the Adidas Golden Boot in South Africa in 2010 when Germany went to the semi-finals.
German fans remember the heroics of Toni Kross in die Mannschaft jersey both in 2014 in 2018. He was one of the goalscorers in the Mineiraço (Agony of Mineirão) where Brazil was humiliated in their backyard by Germany during the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup. Russia 2018 was a disappointing campaign for the former world champions. But the German fans will remember Kross' last-minute free-kick against Sweden that helped the Germans win the match and stay alive in the group stage.
Germany ultimately fell for the "Champions Curse" and failed to qualify for the knockout stage after losing to Mexico and South Korea in the group stage. Both Kross and Müller will aim to bounce back for Germany in the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Casemiro - Brazil
The record champions will travel to Qatar with unprecedented squad depth. Coach Tite is spoilt for choice, but if there's one constant in the midfield, it's Casemiro. Casemiro, regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders of all time, was a member of Zidane's legendary Real Madrid squad, which won four Champions League titles in five seasons from 2014 to 2018.
At the international level, Casemiro helped Brazil win the 2019 Copa América and played a key part in Tite's tactics. His gameplay vision allows him to make the crucial interception and go for a fierce tackle, preventing the opponent from establishing a goal-scoring threat. Brazil will enter the FIFA World Cup 2022 as the top-ranked men's team, and Casemiro will be an important asset for coach Tite during their quest in Qatar, where the Seleção hopes to bring the trophy back home for the first time since their triumph in South Korea-Japan in 2002.
Pedri, Gavi - Spain
In the Spanish midfield, coach Luis Enrique has the winners of the last two editions of Golden Boy, the title awarded to the best young player of the season. Pedri was the winner of the 2021 edition before passing the baton to his FC Barcelona teammate Gavi, who won the latest edition in 2022.
Both the players, yet to turn 20, have the potential to give even some of the experienced players a run for their money. Pedri was a game-changing factor for Spain in the midfield during their EURO 2020 campaign, playing non-stop. Spain lost the semi-final against eventual champions Italy but Pedri played for the entire 120 minutes and completed 65 passes out of a total of 66, taking critics, managers, scouts and pundits by storm.
Pedri gets support in the midfield from Gavi. The 18-year-old has already featured for Spain on some of the biggest stages including the UEFA Nations League where he was part of the Spanish squad that lost to France in the final. But the world witnessed Gavi's potential. The 2022 World Cup will bring the two teenagers into the midfield and help Spain go for glory. The duo often remind football fans of the iconic Xavi-Iniesta duo that dominated world football, both at the club and country level.
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