FIFA World Cup

Will we see the next Pele or Ronaldo? Five potential breakout stars at Russia 2018

The World Cup often throws future superstars into the limelight.

The story goes that a little kid in Brazil was left crestfallen looking at his father in tears after the final of the 1950 World Cup. The final that stunned the 200,000-odd gathered at the Maracana. In the heat of the moment, the kid told his father he will win the World Cup for Brazil one day. Eight years later at the 1958 Sweden World Cup, Pele did just that.

Then 17 years old, Pele was not part of the team that started the World Cup but he was undoubtedly the biggest star to emerge from the tournament, the first time it was televised worldwide. Thus the game had its first global superstar.

Every World Cup fields a plethora of pre-existing superstars. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are all aiming to leave an indelible mark on Russia 2018 but with billions watching, it is the perfect stage for a new generation to showcase their talents.

Here’s a look at five players who could emerge as breakout stars in Russia.

Hirving Lozano (Mexico)

Temperamental but extremely gifted, Hirving Lozano followed in the footsteps of a number of Latin American stars by swapping home for an introductory taste of European football in the Netherlands. He hit 17 goals in 29 games in his debut season abroad as PSV Eindhoven won the Dutch title and has drawn comparisons with Luis Suarez – both for his ability and disposition – while placing Europe’s bigger clubs on alert. He has a knack for the spectacular, scoring the winner for Pachuca minutes into his professional debut, while needing just half an hour to find the net for PSV. At 22, the hope is “Chucky” will mature given time, with Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio counting on him to sparkle.

Goncalo Guedes (Portugal)

Offloaded to Valencia on loan after finding himself stuck behind a queue of talent at Paris Saint-Germain, Goncalo Guedes played just one minute of Portugal’s qualifying campaign. After a frustrating yet brief spell in France, a brilliant start with his new club in La Liga thrust him back into the national team spotlight. The 21-year-old scored five goals and laid on 11 assists to help Valencia earn a place in the Champions League, and struck twice in his country’s final World Cup warm-up match against Algeria to further advance his case for a starting berth in Russia. Powerful and capable of slashing through defences, whether by dribbling or passing, Guedes could leave PSG with a fight on their hands to keep hold of a talent whose potential is far from fulfilled.

Timo Werner (Germany)

Regarded as the heir to Germany’s record goalscorer Miroslav Klose, Timo Werner already boasts vast Bundesliga experience and a tendency to deliver on the big occasions. The 22-year-old was the top scorer at last year’s Confederations Cup, won by Germany, and a return of seven goals in 12 appearances since his international debut in March 2017 suggests he will be a mainstay in the national team for the next decade. Armed with searing pace – he was clocked running 100 metres in 11.1 seconds – the RB Leipzig forward is a constant threat on the counter and thrives by hanging on the shoulder of the last defender. A deep run by Germany in Russia could set Werner up for a shot at the tournament’s golden boot.

Sardar Azmoun (Iran)

Sardar Azmoun has been piling up the international goals for an Iran squad that has regularly superseded expectations. With 23 international goals in just 32 games, the 23-year-old is already fifth on Iran’s list of all-time leading scorers. Azmoun was a standout volleyball player as a teenager before concentrating solely on football, and uses his athleticism and acceleration to great effect. He was snapped up by Rubin Kazan in 2013 and while Arsenal and Liverpool have reportedly showed interest in the past, he remains in Russia. He will team up with Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who became the first Asian to finish as the Dutch league’s top scorer this season, as Iran try to punch above their weight in a section featuring Portugal and Spain.

Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)

A Dutch youth international, Hakim Ziyech ultimately elected to represent Morocco rather than the country of his birth in 2015. It was a decision blasted by Netherlands great Marco van Basten but one that helped Morocco end a 20-year World Cup absence. An attacking midfielder with the facility to penetrate the opposition, he is the fulcrum in an underrated Morocco side and has an eye for goal, finding the net eight times in 15 matches. Two prolific seasons at Twente earned him a move to Ajax in 2016 but the 25-year-old is looking for a new challenge after landing the league’s player of the year award and will be desperate to prove his value in Russia.

With AFP inputs

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.