5 South American stars to watch out for at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

Football’s and perhaps the biggest sporting event returns next year with 2018 FIFA World Cup where all the biggest names from the game will get together to put on a memorable show for the fans around the world. At the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we will perhaps see the best crop of players South America has to offer in recent years and today, we take a look at the top 5 South American players who can light up the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

South American countries always have a special mention when it comes to the World Cups as between Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay South American countries have won 9 of the past 20 FIFA World Cups.

South American players are the most flamboyant when it comes to entertainment or putting the fans on the edge of their seats. Their goals are always spectacular, and their celebrations aren’t too far behind either.

5 South American players who can light up the 2018 FIFA World Cup:

1) Lionel Messi (Argentina)

The obvious name to start the list has to be Argentina’s Lionel Messi who continues to outfox the defenders and find a way to score virtually every week in a Barcelona shirt. Messi was at his sublime best at the 2014 FIFA World Cup where he single-handedly took Argentina to the final but had to face defeat after Mario Goetze‘s 113th-minute goal.

Many believe, Messi has become an even better player since his 2014 FIFA World Cup defeat and is determined to lead Argentina to their third World Cup success. Messi will turn 31 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup and this could be his last shot at the World Cup glory.

Messi has 61 goals in 123 appearances for his country, however, Messi has never scored a goal in a knockout stage of any of his previous World Cup campaigns. However, Messi will not bother for these records if he manages to take Argentina to the World Cup glory which will certainly make him the greatest players to have ever played the game, if not already.

2) Neymar (Brazil)

Statistically and based on abilities, Neymar is the closest thing possible to be the next superstar of World Football when Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi decide to hang up their boots. Neymar dominated the headlines last summer following his 200million move to PSG and come next summer, we could be seeing and hearing a lot about Neymar and his Brazilian national side.

Neymar was a rage at the 2014 FIFA World Cup where he carried Brazil to the semi-finals on his own shoulders but an injury ruled him out of the semi-final against Germany and we saw an annihilation as Brazil crumbled to a 7-1 defeat against the eventual winners of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Come the 2018 World Cup, Neymar will fitter, better, and certainly more determined than ever to ensure Brazil are once again remembered as a team who have won 4 World Cups in the past and not as a team who were humiliated in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals.

3) Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)

Edinson Cavani is one of the most complete strikers in the game at the moment and he will be Uruguay’s go-to man at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Cavani has scored 30 and assisted 8 so far in the season for PSG and with almost 15 games to go, Cavani could be going into the next FIFA World Cup with a 50-goal campaign.

Cavani and Luis Suarez will form a partnership which is enough to torment any opposing defense. Cavani has scored 40 goals from 98 international appearances and the “El Matador” would be hoping to add to his World Cup tally and he will certainly be one of the South American players to watch out for at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

4) Gabriel Jesus (Brazil)

It has been a while since we saw a 20-year-old become a crucial part of their national team and an almost undroppable entity ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Gabriel Jesus has made an instant impact during his short spell with Brazil and his national manager Tite has confirmed that barring any injury, Jesus will lead the line for Brazil at the upcoming World Cup.

Jesus has managed 7 goals and 3 assists from his first 10 games for Brazil and has enjoyed a rather successful Premier League season with Manchester City. Jesus is a manager’s delight as he loves to attack the defenders and his intelligent movement allows others to create and utilize the space.

One of Brazil’s problems at the 2014 FIFA World Cup was their over-reliance on Neymar when it came to creating chances and scoring goals, however, with Jesus, Philippe Coutinho, Willian, and Roberto Firmino, Brazil will be heading into the 2018 FIFA World Cup as one of the strongest teams in the competition, if not the strongest.

5). James Rodriguez (Colombia)

One of the most iconic moments from the 2014 FIFA World Cup was James Rodriguez controlling the ball on his chest, turning 180 degrees flat and scoring the most amazing World Cup goal against Uruguay in the quarter-final stage which was later named as the best goal of the tournament.

Since then, James has moved to Real Madrid where he found it difficult to adjust but has once again found his form with a move to Germany giants Bayern Munich. Once again, James will be the most important player for his national side and certainly one of the top South Amercian players to watch out for at the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

Honorable mentions – Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), Roberto Firmino (Brazil), Paulo Dybala (Argentina), Luis Suarez (Uruguay)

READ: 5 footballers who scored most goals in FIFA World Cup history.