BY JEFREY CANOVA, SPORTS STAFFER
Passionate football fans hate to let go of their heroes and say goodbye since life without them won’t be the same. Unfortunately, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be the final World Cup for many legends who have graced us with their talents and brought us unforgettable moments in the grandest tournament of them all. We said goodbye to greats like Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Ronaldinho and Kaka. Now, new icons will give their all at this World Cup to deliver fans one final show.
The 39-year-old phenom will make his third World Cup appearance and will attempt to add one more title to his stacked cabinet of 47 official titles. With Dani Alves finally winning the World Cup, the one trophy he doesn’t have, his case as the greatest fullback of all time will make it difficult for anyone to argue against it.
The player with an eye for goal will make his second-ever World Cup. For years, the 34-year-old goalscorer missed out on winning many illustrious Balon d’Ors because of his lack of international success. Unfortunately, the Poland national football team doesn’t compare in terms of talent with global giants like Brazil, Argentina, Germany or Spain. However, the World Cup represents upsets and breakouts, and Poland has another chance to go deep in the tournament.
Poland, with on-form Robert Lewandowski, the all-time top goalscorer for the Polish national football team with 76 goals, can upset any powerhouses in the knockout rounds. Maybe another five goals in nine minutes, Robert?
The newly crowned 2022 MLS Cup winner will make his first-ever World Cup. Labeled as a “big game player” with his UCL final performances in Real Madrid, Gareth Bale has another challenge before retiring from international football and football. Can he pull off one more magical tournament as he did in the 2016 UEFA Euros and get Wales out of a challenging group stage with the U.S., England and Iran?
Every football fan loves that the World Cup brings shocking moments and performances. Luis Suarez defines shocking World Cup moments and legendary performances by scoring seven goals across three different World Cups. From the infamous handball that saved Uruguay from elimination against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup or the bite on Chiellini’s shoulder in the 2014 World Cup, Suarez’s unpredictability will leave a hole for future World Cups. Luis Suarez, 35, has time for one final tournament with Uruguay. The team can make a deep run this year since its balance of youth and veteran experience makes it formidable.
Words can not describe the legendary status of one of Croatia’s greatest players, Luka Modric. In the 2018 Word Cup, Luka Modric had an all-time historic run by leading his underdog Croatian national team to reach its first-ever World Cup final. He won the Golden Ball and Balon d’Or for his legendary performances in the knockout rounds that ultimately helped take his team to the final.
Success at the World Cup transforms greats into untouchable icons. Modric’s performances at the 2018 World Cup helped cement him as arguably this generation’s top-three center midfielder. Many might not see another 2018 run from Croatia, but the little magician might have something to say to his doubters. Any opposition cannot take their eyes off a big game player.
Bearing the current news with the Portuguese superstar, one can not doubt Cristiano Ronaldo in the biggest competitions. Making his World Cup debut in 2006, Cristiano Ronaldo has never failed to disappoint fans with his determination and stubbornness to achieve individual success. Filled with iconic performances, such as his hattrick against Spain in the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo will look to continue to add to his scoring chart of seven World Cup goals. Many don’t consider Portugal the favorites for the 2022 World Cup but keep an eye on their talent-heavy squad of youth and experience. Mr. Champions League must show up one last time to get the trophy he desperately wants, and what an opportunity to shut his haters up through a knockout tournament!
Lionel Messi has one more shot at winning the trophy that could end all doubts about his status as the greatest football player of all time. Not only does Messi have a chance to continue adding to his goal-scoring numbers in the Word Cup, but win his second Golden Ball award at the World Cup. Argentina failed to get the prestigious trophy in 2014 after losing to Germany in the final. Still, with the team currently undefeated for the past two years, Lionel Scaloni’s masterclass tactics, and Messi in the form of his life at PSG, Argentina comes in as the heavy favorites alongside Brazil. Messi can finally erase the negative narratives that came his way on the international stage; he must create magic to take his team to glory one final time.