Eight groups and 32 teams. Not necessarily world wide stars but some players will shine in the group stage even though their team might not make it out of the group or perhaps fade after reaching the last 16. Below is a list of sixteen such players, two for each group.
The hosts, Russia, are not favorites to go far in the World Cup and that would be a failure for the country. Alan Dzagoev could be a star and needs to be for Russia to be a hit.
Egypt’s Mohamed Salah is on fire in the English Premier League and if does anywhere near as well in Russia he will be remembered and revered even more.
Cristiano Ronaldo led his team to the Euro 2016 championship, though he missed most of the final. His World Cup form has been mixed but he will be the star for Portugal.
Isco is Spain’s rising star and primed to leave a mark at the World Cup stage.
Antoine Griezmann will likely make a very big move after the World Cup. He can also lead France in the group stage and beyond.
Christian Eriksen can score spectacular goals and his goals can come in bunches as they did in the UEFA qualifying playoffs.
Lionel Messi left his national team mark when his hat trick rescued the Argentina team. Now he can and will do the same in Russia.
Luka Modric, late in his career, will pull the strings in midfield for Croatia.
Neymar is now the undisputed star of the Brazil national team. The selecao will live by his tricks and goals.
Keylor Navas in the Costa Rican goal will inspire and lead his team in the group stage.
Manuel Neuer is the leading figure of the German team. The goalie, sweeper will be one of the headliners of the group stage.
Javier Hernandez will score the goals to lead Mexico in the three group matches and beyond.
Kevin De Bruyne is at his peak for Manchester City. His pace and talent will create and finish for Belgium.
Harry Kane is the prolific goal scorer than can over English disappointments at the World Cup.
Robert Lewandowski will star and overcome his national team’s shortcomings to be one of the early stars in Russia.
Juan Cuadrado will create and cross from the midfield and wing for Radamel Falcao, Carlos Bacca et al to score the goals for Colombia.