The countdown is on for the start of the World Cup. The Red Devils left for Qatar today. It will be a remarkable tournament, because there are a lot of legends who will (presumably) start their last World Cup.
During the next World Cup, Lionel Messi would turn 39 years old, so there is virtually no chance that he will still be there. The Argentinian star player starts his fifth World Cup in Qatar. In total, he played 19 games at the world championship in which he managed to score nine times and also gave five assists.
I hope I don’t have to explain why we all have to enjoy Lionel Messi one last time. Still a short recap: the Argentinian won the Ballon d’Or 7 times, scored no less than 695 times for Barcelona and Paris St-Germain, won the Copa América with Argentina and reached the final of the World Cup in 2018. It is obvious that La Pulga will want to give everything one more time to be able to raise the cup in December.
Cristiano Ronaldo will also start his fifth World Cup with the Portuguese national team within a week. In 2006 he achieved a good fourth place with the national team, after that Portugal never got past the eighth finals. It is not officially the last World Cup for CR7, but since he would be 41 in 2026, the chances that he will also play there are slim.
He already showed that Ronaldo can win prizes with Portugal at the European Championship in 2016. The five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or will want to show what he can do again at the age of 37. Unlike Messi, CR7 is not having a good season. In the Premier League he did not play very much under trainer Erik ten Hag and he could only score once. In the Europa League he scored twice and also provided the same number of assists. Will he take this form to Qatar?
Robert Lewandowski – Poland
Polish top striker Robert Lewandowski starts his second, and probably last, World Cup in Qatar. The 34-year-old striker has been playing for FC Barcelona since this season and has shown with 18 goals in 19 games that he is in good shape. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Lewandowski failed to shake the nets. Can he do it in Qatar?
Neymar – Brazil
Neymar, who is only 30, may also be starting his very last World Cup, as he himself stated in an interview earlier this year. He once won the Confederations Cup with Brazil and also took gold at the 2016 Olympic Games. At the last World Cup they went out in the semi-finals against the Red Devils, can they now shine again at the World Cup?
Luis Suarez -Uruguay
Luis Suarez, 35, is clearly in the twilight of his career. The former striker of Liverpool, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will even be without a club from after the World Cup. The past half season, Suarez played for his youth club from Uruguay, Nacional, with which he won the championship at the end of October. He will be remembered for his handball red card at the 2010 World Cup that kept Ghana from a semi-final and his bite to Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup. What can we expect from the Uruguayan at this World Cup?
Luka Modric – Croatia
The Croatian midfielder, Luka Modric, will most likely also start his last World Cup in Qatar. Modric is 37 and this will be his eighth major tournament with the Croatian national team. He played a key role for his country at the 2018 World Cup, where they lost to France in the final. He became player of the tournament and subsequently also won the Ballon d’Or. What do the Croats do against the Red Devils in the group stage?
Eden Hazard – Belgium
For our one and only Eden Hazard it could well be his last World Cup. The 31-year-old captain of the Red Devils has been sidelined at Real Madrid for years and even at this World Cup there was discussion whether he should still join. Nevertheless, Hazard is going to Qatar and will play at his third World Cup. He scored three times in 11 World Cup games and also provided four assists. Can he continue those stats in Qatar?
Furthermore, Karim Benzema, Manuel Neuer, Gareth Bale and Sergio Busquets are most likely also working on their last World Cup. There are of course still a lot of players who will play for their country for the last time at the world championship, but they are (with all due respect) lesser gods. So we say goodbye to a very nice selection of football players who managed to give color to the sport in recent years. Will you miss them?