With the 2018 World Cup on FOX 8 kicking off June 14th from Russia, we are previewing 10 storylines that are worth keeping an eye on as the tournament goes on.
#4 - Youth Movement – Each year, the World Cup is introduced to a new star. In 2014, then-22-year-old James Rodriguez led Colombia to the quarterfinals with six goals and two assists. 2018 has several candidates primed for a global breakout:
- Kylian Mbappé (19), France(Paris Saint-Germain): Just as James perfected his craft at talent-rich AS Monaco, Mbappé is just a year removed from putting Ligue 1 on notice with 26 goals in a campaign that saw the principality side overtake PSG. The 19-year-old subsequently joined the Parisian side and scored another 21 goals. He will feature prominently in a talent-laden French side that saw Antoine Griezmann win the European Cup’s Golden Boot two years ago. Keep an eye on his 21-year-old teammate, Ousmane Dembélé, as well.
- Gabriel Jesus (21), Brazil (Manchester City): While Neymar steals the headlines for the Seleção, Jesus may be the best true scoring threat. In his first extended season in England, he logged 17 goals in 42 appearances. His goal-scoring record internationally is even better, scoring 10 times in just 17 appearances.
- Timo Werner (22), Germany (RB Leipzig): You would think the reigning champs would have plenty of veteran goal-scoring threats but Thomas Mueller’s disappointing European Cup opened the door for Werner to impress manager Joachim Low at the Confederations Cup and he did just that, scoring three goals and assisting two more. He has scored 21 goals in each of his two seasons at Leipzig.
- Marcus Rashford (20), England (Manchester United): His cracking goal from outside the penalty box in a friendly against Costa Rica served as a reminder of his ability when unleashed. His club time has been limited in Jose Mourinho’s side (13 goals in 26 starts, 26 substitutions.)
- Dele Alli (22), England (Tottenham): Alli has made 146 appearances for his club in the last three years so he certainly seems more established than your average 22-year-old. Speaking on FOX 8’s Final Play, New Orleans Jesters Head Coach Kenny Farrell predicted Alli’s rise to prominence ”He’s one of those players that can produce something incredible and if England go on that run, he’s going to be the player that makes those things happen.”
- Marco Ascensio (22), Spain (Real Madrid): He has yet to score for his country on the senior level but has managed 21 goals the last two years at Europe’s dominant club.
It's not just youth that will be served at this World Cup, Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary is making history as the oldest player and oldest captain in tournament history at 45 years of age.
FOX 8 will broadcast 38 games from Russia, from first kick to final trophy presentation. The first five games on FOX 8 are:
Thursday, June 14th at 10 AM – Russia vs Saudi Arabia
Friday, June 15th at 10 AM – Morocco vs Iran
Friday, June 15th at 1 PM – Portugal vs Spain
Saturday, June 16th at 10 AM – Argentina vs Iceland
Sunday, June 17th at 7 AM – Costa Rica vs Serbia