Man City Stars Who Could Shine at the 2018 World Cup

10 Nov

This is a post written by James Bowman.

There is still a long way to go in the domestic campaign but Manchester City fans could be forgiven for feeling rather excited about their prospects of silverware this season. After a year spent getting to grips with the Premier League and having now moulded a squad in his own image, City boss Pep Guardiola seems to have crafted an effective formula.

But whatever this season brings, many will also be looking forward to next summer’s World Cup finals where a host of Sky Blues players could find themselves involved. With nearly all the participants confirmed, now is a good time to take a look at some of the City stars who may feature on the world stage next year.

The Citizens should have a strong presence in Russia although not all of the contenders are certain to be selected for various reasons. In fact, some of the club’s potential international candidates may have to raise their game at club level first before they can start thinking about chasing glory for their countries.

England

One of those certain to be on the plane should he remain fit is Joe Hart whether or not the England regular may not be plying his trade at the Etihad by the time the tournament begins. Kyle Walker and John Stones should both feature as first choice players in their respective positions. Walker has been a revelation at City and Stones continues to improve and grow as a player under the guidance of Guardiola.

Another player who is finally reaping the rewards of Pep’s methods is Raheem Sterling. The midfielder is one of his country’s most creative midfield players and is now looking much more comfortable in front of goal. If he continues on his current trajectory, he could be one of the most important players for the Three Lions next summer. Fabian Delph has already earned a surprise call-up this season and appears to be thriving since Guardiola transformed him into a left-back. He could make for useful cover.

France

Former Monaco man Benjamin Mendy has been out of action since picking up a knee ligament injury in September. With recovering expected to take six months or more, he faces a race against time to make it on the plane to Russia. Eliaquim Mangala spent last season on loan at Valencia and looks all set to leave the club in January with Italian side Internazionale reportedly interested. His chances of making the World Cup squad look slim at this stage.

Spain

Spain will enter the World Cup among the favourites in the bookies odds according to Oddschecker, admittedly a little further out than they have been accustomed to in recent years. After a couple of years of underperforming, Los Rojos look like a force to be reckoned with once again.

Now considered a veteran, 31-year-old David Silva has been leading by example at international level and will enter the tournament on the back of his most prolific two seasons for La Furia Roja.

Brazil

Ederson featured in the Brazil squad for the first time in September and should at least feature in the squad that travels to Russia. But with plenty of competition in the Seleção XI, he may find himself on the bench for the most part.

One player who should make the first XI for Brazil is Fernandinho. He has featured on a regular basis over the past four years and continues to impress at City. Likewise, Gabriel Jesus should definitely be one of the first names on Tite’s team sheet. At just 20 years of age, the striker has been a revelation for club and country and matched strike partner Neymar’s World Cup qualifying goal count with six strikes in 10 games.

Full-back Danilo has only made sporadic appearances for the national team over the last six years so his inclusion is by no means a certainty. However, his recent inclusion in the squad for the final two qualifiers bodes well for next summer. Douglas Luiz has already impressed in his short time on loan at La Liga side Girona but it seems a stretch to imagine the 19-year-old turning out for Brazil in Russia next year. Stranger things have happened, however, so watch this space.

Portugal

Classy youngster Bernardo Silva has been a regular in the City line-up since making the switch from Monaco in May. He has made 10 appearances for Portugal in 2017 and barring injury will almost certainly be taking to the field alongside Cristiano Ronaldo when Fernando Santos’ men begin their World Cup campaign.

Argentina

A Lionel Messi hat-trick against Ecuador ensured that Argentina made it to next summer’s football extravaganza where Nicolas Otamendi should arrive as first choice centre-back. The 29-year- old is just one game away from making a 50th appearance for his country.

Despite his obvious brilliance, Sergio Aguero is by no means guaranteed a place in the Argentine World Cup squad. Unfortunately, he just happens to play for a nation that can pick and choose from some of the best forwards in the world including Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Mauro Icardi, Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Maria. He has featured just twice for La Albiceleste in 2017 but another strong season at City should help his cause.

Belgium

Belgium are once again being tipped as dark horses for this tournament but even if they do not go all the way, they can be expected to impress with their open and attacking style of play. They were the first team (aside from the hosts) to confirm qualification and have yet to be beaten in a competitive match under Roberto Martinez.

Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has been one of the star players for City over the last couple of years and will be one to look out for next summer. The current Belgium set-up seems to suit his style of play and he is now regarded as one of the elite footballers in European football.

City captain Vincent Kompany was left out of the latest Belgium squad and faces a race against time to get fit in time for the tournament. His lack of game time over the last two seasons will be a concern for Martinez – however, the Red Devils boss could do with another option in the centre-back position ahead of Jason Denayer (remember him?), who is back on loan at Galatasaray and hasn’t featured for Belgium since Martinez took the reins. His chances of travelling are slim at best.

Germany

There is no doubt that Leroy Sane is a future star of the German national team. The only question is whether Joachim Low can find room for him this time around. The reigning world champions have a ridiculously strong crop of players to choose from, particularly in the midfield areas.

The same issue will also affect Ilkay Gundogan who will need to remain injury-free and perform at his best level if he is to force his way into the reckoning come June.

It’s a long list, and one that City fans the world over will be delighted with, with dozens of otherwise neutral matches likely to feature Etihad favourites. What is for sure is that one way or another Manchester City FC will offer huge influence on which team lifts the World Cup trophy on July 15th.

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