Over 700 players are going to Russia to compete in World Cup this month, and for many, that can be just too darn many to keep track of. Lucky for you, The Football Sack has created a list of the eight players you simply have to know for when you tune in this years competition.

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Neymar

Brazil’s downfall in the 2014 World Cup can likely be traced back to a downfall of another kind: as a then 22-year-old Neymar was stretchered off the pitch with a fractured vertebra following an aerial collision with Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zúñiga. Having recently returned from another serious injury (a fractured foot suffered in February) Brazil’s talisman will once again carry the weight of Brazilian expectations upon his shoulders, and it’s easy to see why. He boasts an exemplary international record of 54 goals in 84 games for his national team and last year became the most expensive player of all following a €222 move to French champions Paris Saint Germain. Many headlines will be grabbed throughout the tournament, expect Brazil’s silky superstar to grab a few of them.

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Thomas Muller

Scoring at a World Cup is an achievement very few get to experience, and many dazzling internationals have failed to fire home on the world’s biggest stage. Unfortunately, no one told Germany’s Thomas Muller this at the World Cup in 2010 when the 20-year-old fired home five goals and ran away with the tournament’s Golden Boot award. Now aged 28, the forward has laid on a further five World Cup goals to his resume and will be looking to add to this tally come June 18th. No one playing in the tournament will boast as many World Cup goals as Muller, and as Germany, along with the likes of Spain and France, will be Brazil’s biggest competition for the tournament, he should have ample opportunity to add to his list.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

What can be said about Cristiano Ronaldo that hasn’t already been said? The man will go down as one of the all greatest players to have ever played the game and is known around the world for his power, precision and winning mentality. The Real Madrid superstar is the definition of big game player, and at 32 years old, this could very well be the last chance for Portugal’s number seven to experience lifting the World Cup. Following Portugal’s success at Euro 2016, he will look to add the final missing piece to his already over flowing trophy cabinet.

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Lionel Messi

Speaking of superstars, have you heard of this kid Messi? It would not be hyperbole to say that he is the greatest player to ever grace a football pitch. Having played his whole career for Europe’s most successful club Barcelona, he is not only their top scorer with 552 goals (next best is Luis Suarez with 152), but also his nation’s highest scorer with 64. Messi almost single-handedly pulled a struggling Argentina team through South American qualifying to get to Russia and while he is there, Argentina are sure to make an impact. He was voted player of the tournament at Brazil 2014 and like Ronaldo before him, at 30 years old this is arguably his last chance real chance to carry his team to the title.

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Andres Iniesta

When all is said and done, few players in the modern era will be able to say they have achieved as much as Andres Iniesta. He is currently second on Barcelona’s all time appearance list and played a central role in one of the strongest periods in clubs history. Add to that being the best player in a Spanish side that at the turn of the decade won two European Championships and a World Cup to boot and you have the makings of one of the most gifted footballers you are ever likely to see. At 34 years of age, Iniesta will bid farewell to the Spanish national team at the end of the tournament and will likely go down as the greatest player to ever don the red jersey.

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Mohamed Salah

The hearts of Egypt dropped when Mohamed Salah left the pitch clutching his left shoulder in this seasons Champions League Final, with fears their star player would not be fit in time for the World Cup. Those fears appear to be slightly unfounded however as the Liverpool ace faces a race to be fit for his nations opening match against Saudi Arabia on June 26th. It’s not hard to see why Egypt value their forward so much. He was one of the world’s best players this season, contributing to 60 goals over the course of the season. Add to that his terrific record of 33 goals in 57 matches for his international side and you have one of the hottest properties in world football.

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Antoine Griezmann

There are a number of French players that will be capable of lighting up Russia 2018, but none more so than Antoine Griezmann. Coming off the back of a sensational campaign for Atletico Madrid and with ongoing speculation of a big money move to Barcelona failing to dissipate, the French forward will be key if France is to taste World Cup success for the first time since 1998. Known for his extravagant celebrations, he was the driving force behind France getting through to the final of Euro 2016. He will be hoping to do one better this time around.

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James Rodríguez

While most eyes were on the likes of Ronaldo and Neymar at Brazil 2014, it was the Colombian James Rodríguez who stole the show. His superb showing of six goals saw him claim not only the tournament’s Golden Boot award, but also saw him transfer to global powerhouse Real Madrid. Whilst things never really got going for the young attacking midfielder in the Spanish capital, a loan move to Germany’s Bayern Munich has instilled much needed life into his still-blossoming career. Colombia were quarter-finalists in 2014, if they are to better that performance, Rodríguez will be central to any success.

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