2018 World Cup in Russia: The 50 Best Players

Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Salah... Which stars will shine brightest over the next four weeks in Russia?Newsweek
50. Alisson—Brazil, 24 caps, 0 goals (GK, 25, Roma): Alisson has brought confidence and control to a role that has often proved to be Brazil’s undoing. He’s been linked with a move to Liverpool or Real Madrid, but Roma are unlikely to sell him.Vanessa Carvalho/LatinContent/Getty Images

The 2018 World Cup will probably be the last international tournament where soccer fans get the chance to admire Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the peak of their powers.

The Argentine magician will be 34 by the time the biggest tournament in the world pitches up in Qatar in four years, while CR7 will be three months short of his 38th birthday and unlikely to be leading Portugal yet again. However, the two best players of their generation are far from the only stars that could shine brightly over the next four weeks in Russia.

Tony Kroos will have a crucial role to play if Germany is to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups, and will his Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos lift the World Cup less than two months after winning a third Champions League title in a row?

Brazilians will hope Neymar can inspire his country to a sixth title, despite having just returned from injury, while dark horses Belgium will pin its hopes of sparking a major upset on the talent of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne.

Having failed to score at Euro 2016, Harry Kane will hope to translate his club form onto the international stage for England, while Egypt holds its breath to see whether Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah will add another chapter to his incredible season if he manages to recover in time from the injury sustained in the Champions League.

Among the favorites to win the tournament, France will rely on the attacking talent of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, but must hope Paul Pogba rediscovers his form after a difficult season for Manchester United.

In this gallery, Newsweek counts down the 50 best players at the 2018 World Cup.

49. Radamel Falcao—Colombia, 70 caps, 28 goals (FW, 32, Real Monaco): Returning to form after two dismal loan spells in the Premier League, Colombia’s all-time top scorer will finally make his World Cup debut after missing the 2014 tournament with a serious injury.Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images
48. Son Heung-min—South Korea, 63 caps, 20 goals (FW, 25, Tottenham Hotspur): South Korea’s top scorer in qualifying, the Spurs forward is his country’s most potent attacking threat. Can operate out wide, but he’s normally deployed as a traditional striker in a 4-4-2 formation.Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
47. Marc-Andre ter Stegen—Germany, 19 caps, 0 goals (GK, 26, Barcelona): Manuel Neuer’s injury has given Ter Stegen a chance to establish himself as Germany’s number one, which he has seized in style. Was man of the match in the Confederations Cup final against Chile last year.Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images
46. Giovani Lo Celso—Argentina, 4 caps, 0 goals (MF, 22, Paris Saint-Germain): The 22-year-old has developed into a complete midfielder since moving to Paris Saint-Germain and has improved his defensive work-rate. Might not start for Argentina, however.Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images
45. Diego Godin—Uruguay, 115 caps, 8 goals (DF, 32, Atletico Madrid): An old-school defender, Godin was a crucial cog in the Atletico Madrid side that conceded just four league goals at home all season. Uruguay’s captain is also a threat at the other end of the pitch.Andres Stapff/Reuters
44. Toby Alderweireld—Belgium, 74 caps, 3 goals (DF, 29, Tottenham Hotspur): Arguably one of the best defenders in the Premier League, injury problems and an impasse over a new contract have seen Alderweireld play just 21 games this season. Expect him to be a starter for Belgium regardless.Rémy Gabalda/AFP
43. James Rodriguez—Colombia, 60 caps, 21 goals (MF, 26, Real Madrid): A loan move to Bayern Munich appears to have rejuvenated the Colombian, who was one of the stars of the World Cup four years ago. Contributed to 48 percent of his team’s goals in the qualifying stage.Guillermo Legaria/LatinContent/Getty Images
42. Timo Werner—Germany, 12 caps, 7 goals (FW, 22, RB Leipzig): Not a traditional centre-forward, Werner’s movement and speed make him very difficult to handle. Criticized for moving to RB Leipzig at the beginning of last season, he has not looked back, scoring 21 goals.Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images
41. Thibaut Courtois—Belgium, 55 caps, 0 goals (GK, 26, Chelsea): One of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, Courtois’ form dipped slightly this season but he remains Belgium’s undisputed first choice in goal.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
40. Joshua Kimmich—Germany, 27 caps, 3 goals (DF, 23, Bayern Munich): At ease across the back four and can also be deployed as central midfielder, Kimmich has made the job of replacing Philip Lahm for club and country look incredibly easy.Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
39. Mesut Ozil - Germany, 89 caps, 22 goals (MF, 29, Arsenal): Repeatedly accused of going missing in big games with Arsenal, Ozil remains a key player for Germany. Joachim Low deploys him either as number 10 or out wide in the trio supporting the striker in Germany’s favored 4-2-3-1 formation. Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images
38. Marco Asensio—Spain, 10 caps, 0 goals (MF, 22, Real Madrid): Asensio has been tipped by to become one of the best players in the world and has developed superbly under Zinedine Zidane. Blessed with a great left foot and dribbling skills, he might not be in the starting XI for Spain.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The 2018 World Cup will probably be the last international tournament where soccer fans get the chance to admire Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the peak of their powers.

The Argentine magician will be 34 by the time the biggest tournament in the world pitches up in Qatar in four years, while CR7 will be three months short of his 38th birthday and unlikely to be leading Portugal yet again. However, the two best players of their generation are far from the only stars that could shine brightly over the next four weeks in Russia.

Tony Kroos will have a crucial role to play if Germany is to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups, and will his Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos lift the World Cup less than two months after winning a third Champions League title in a row?

Brazilians will hope Neymar can inspire his country to a sixth title, despite having just returned from injury, while dark horses Belgium will pin its hopes of sparking a major upset on the talent of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne.

Having failed to score at Euro 2016, Harry Kane will hope to translate his club form onto the international stage for England, while Egypt holds its breath to see whether Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah will add another chapter to his incredible season if he manages to recover in time from the injury sustained in the Champions League.

Among the favorites to win the tournament, France will rely on the attacking talent of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, but must hope Paul Pogba rediscovers his form after a difficult season for Manchester United.

In this gallery, Newsweek counts down the 50 best players at the 2018 World Cup.