The 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup is just five days away. As we get closer to the biggest global celebration of the ‘beautiful game’, Prothom Alo counts down the days with some interesting facts about the upcoming edition and some fascinating tidbits about the history of the competition.
Vinicius Junior (Brazil)
At just 22 years of age, Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior has already won the biggest prize in European club football, the UEFA Champions League, with his club Real Madrid.
In just a few days’ time, Vinicius will add another achievement in his young career when he takes part in his maiden FIFA World Cup.
After having reached the pinnacle of club football, the left winger has his eyes set on helping Brazil end it’s 20-year wait for the ‘Hexa’ in Qatar.
Vinicius, who has 46 goals and 48 assists to his name as a Real Madrid player, so far hasn’t shone in the Brazil jersey, scoring just one goal in 16 appearances for the ‘Selecao’.
But Brazil coach Tite has immense faith on the young prodigy and believes he, along with a fresh crop of young players, will reduce the burden on star player Neymar and take Brazil to the top of the football world for the sixth time.
Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands)
Frenkie de Jong debuted for the Netherlands on 6 September, 2018, just months after the World Cup in Russia where the Dutch team was absent after failing to clear the qualification hurdle.
Since then, De Jong has established himself as one of the best central midfielders in the world, has become an important player for his club Barcelona and become a permanent feature in the Netherlands midfield.
De Jong played his part in ensuring the Netherlands qualified for the Qatar World Cup and his performance will play a crucial role in determining how far the Dutch team will go in Qatar.
Pedri made his debut for Spain last year, at just 18 years of age.
The innocuous looking boy dictated terms in the midfield for Spain in last year’s Euro, was named the ‘Golden Boy’, an award reserved for the best footballer in Europe under the age of 21, in 2021 and was one of the first names drafted in the Spanish World Cup squad.
Now, the 19-year-old Barcelona player, will lead a young Spanish midfield hoping to take Spain back to the mountaintop after disappointing outings in the last two World Cups.
Pedri is not the only promising young midfielder from Barcelona that the Spanish team will be heavily depending on in Qatar.
Gavi, the 2022 Golden Boy award winner, has been a revelation for Barcelona since making his debut for the club’s senior side on 29 August, 2021, barely a month after turning 17.
It took the young midfielder, who has a bit of a temper, very little time to catch the attention of Spain coach Luis Enrique, who handed him his national team debut on 6 October, 2021.
In just 12 appearances for Spain, Gavi sealed a spot for himself in Spain’s World Cup side, and will be entrusted to bring the spark often missing in Spain’s attacking front and also ‘rough up’ the opposition midfielder when required.
Jamal Musiala (Germany)
Jamal Musiala has been considered a superstar in the making since his days at age-level football. The 19-year-old attacking midfielder, who plays for German club Bayern Munich, will get his first chance to showcase his capabilities at a global scale when he plays for Germany in the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Musiala has had a breakout season so far, scoring 12 goals and making 10 assists in 22 appearances for Bayern Munich.
His record for the national side, comparatively, looks bleak as he has just the one international goal and no assists to his name from 17 appearances.
But Germany coach Hansi Flick recognised the undeniable talent of the young midfielder and roped him in for the Qatar World Cup.