Who will be the breakout stars of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?
[ MORE: Ranking every World Cup team, 32-1 ]
We’re talking players who you hadn’t really seen play or heard too much about but now they are appointment viewing and are set for a big tournament, which could lead to stardom.
We could include the likes of Jamal Musiala, Jude Bellingham and Jonathan David in this list, but we aren’t doing that. You know all about those guys already.
Instead, here are players who are set to have a breakout 2022 World Cup.
World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live
- When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
- Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
- Location: Qatar
- TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
- Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)
Breakout players at the 2022 World Cup
Noussair Mazraoui – Morocco and Bayern Munich
Made the switch from Ajax to Bayern Munich last summer and the silky defender, 24, has slotted in perfectly at Bayern at right back. Morocco are in a tough group but if Mazraoui and Co. can hold firm, they have the likes of Hakimi, Ziyech and Boufal who can cause problems going forward. Mazraoui and Ziyech refused to play for Morocco due to falling out with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic but he was fired and now they’re back in. Mazraoui has agreed to play left back for Morocco so both he and Hakimi can start. It has worked out very well.
Andreas Skov Olsen – Denmark and Club Brugge
A key man in Club Brugge’s superb run to the Champions League last 16, the young Danish winger has been a revelation for Denmark too. Skov Olsen, 21, already has 23 caps and eight goals for Denmark and scored in their Nations League wins against Austria and France (their Group D opponents at the World Cup) in recent months. He is a tricky winger who has no fear. Club Brugge will be getting plenty of enquiries about him in January.
Goncalo Ramos – Portugal and Benfica
Chased by a host of Premier League clubs in the summer, we can now understand why. Goncalo Ramos, 21, has stepped up for Benfica and filled the void left by Darwin Nunez with eight goals in 18 games and the Portuguese giants are in the last 16 of the Champions League. His combination of clever movement, rapid runs and tidy finishing means he will be a real threat in this Portugal team. Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is the main man up top but expect Ramos to play a key role too.
Lee Kang-in – South Korea and Real Mallorca
A silky smooth playmaker, his role for South Korea just got more important as Heung-min Son’s injury may not see him at his very boost. Lee Kang-in is still just 21 years old but has huge experience in Spain and he’s been instrumental in some huge wins for Real Mallorca in recent weeks. So much of the focus is on Son for South Korea, and rightly so, but Lee Kang-in makes them tick. He won the player of the tournament at the 2019 U-20 World Cup.
Karol Swiderski – Poland and Charlotte FC
The Polish forward, 25, has been a revelation for Charlotte FC in MLS and he will be one of Poland’s main attackers supporting Robert Lewandowski. Swiderski can score a stunner but his tireless work in attack will go a long way to helping create chances for Lewandowski. There has already been plenty of interest in him based on his form in MLS in 2022. There will be even more after this World Cup.
Kaoru Mitoma – Japan and Brighton
He’s been a revelation for Brighton since breaking into the team this season and the 25-year-old Japanese playmaker is on the rise in a big way. He was excellent for Union Saint-Gilloise in the Belgian Pro League last season and he’s scored five goals in eight games (including one against the USMNT) for Japan in 2022. He is so quick, skilful and direct. Mitoma and Japan will surprise a lot of people at this tournament.
Xavi Simons – Netherlands and PSV Eindhoven
He has never played for the Netherlands but made their World Cup squad. The 19-year-old midfielder excelled against Arsenal in the Europa League and is destined for the very top. So good on the ball, he makes superb runs from midfield and alongside Cody Gakpo, the PSV could be key to the Dutch team doing well at the World Cup. He has scored eight goals in 13 Eredivisie games for PSV in his first full season in the Dutch top-flight following his move from PSG. After spending time at Barcelona and PSG’s youth systems as a youngster, Simons has had an incredible grounding. The fact Louis van Gaal loves to give young players a chance also works in his favor.
Ruben Vargas – Switzerland and Augsburg
Switzerland have some talented young players coming through the ranks with forwards Breel Embolo (still just 25) and Noah Okafor (22) getting plenty of attention. Make sure you pay close attention to Ruben Vargas, 24, too. The FC Augsburg winger has become a key man for Switzerland and is due to start on the left wing alongside Xherdan Shaqiri and Djibril Sow underneath center forward Embolo. Vargas is a tricky winger who is very unpredictable and is a joy to watch. His father hails from the Dominican Republic and his mother is from Switzerland as he grew up in Luzern’s academy before heading to Augsburg in the Bundesliga. Vargas was excellent for the Swiss at EURO 2020 and it seems like he will be a player plenty of teams in Europe will take a look at in January.