Egypt goalkeeper and captain Essam El-Hadary is likely to become the tournament’s oldest player at the age of 45, but we’ve selected five outfield players who we feel have the opportunity to make an impact at what is their likely to be their last World Cup…
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – 150 caps, 81 goals
The 33-year-old Portugal skipper spearheads his country’s bid to succeed fellow group rivals Spain’s achievement of following up a European Championship success with the ultimate international prize, as they did in 2008 and 2010. This will be his fourth World Cup although his goals record isn’t spectacular – indeed, he’s scored only once in each of those three major tournaments, against Iran North Korea and Ghana respectively.
Lionel Messi (Argentina) – 124 caps, 64 goals
Key to his country’s hopes, Ronaldo’s great rival for world football recognition reportedly retired in the wake of defeat to Germany in the 2014 final – although this time this really might be it for the great man, who is looking to emulate Diego Maradona by repeating the heroics of 1986 alongside a squad of variable quality. Should this prove the case then would he be regarded as the greatest player of all time?
Andres Iniesta (Spain) – 127 caps, 14 goals
The Barcelona legend, who recently confirmed a move to Japan, is sure to be lauded throughout the tournament for his contribution to the game. The 2010 final match-winner will be hoping to inspire his country to former glories after they failed to get out of their group four years ago in Brazil.
Luka Modric (Croatia) – 106 caps, 12 goals
The Real Madrid midfielder is 33 and September but will be determined to make a mark in his third tournament, having missed out in 2010. He has also stated that he would trade all his successes with his club for a taste of glory with his country.
Tim Cahill (Australia) – 106 caps, 50 goals
The former Everton man, who ended the season back at his first English club, Millwall, will likely be used in a super-sub role in Russia. Now 38, he is sure to leave his mark and perhaps score in his fourth successive World Cup – a feat only achieved by Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.