The World Cup is just around the corner and the world is waiting to be blown away by the sublime skills of the world's best footballers. So, who are the stars we should look out for? Here are our favourite stars and the ones we know are going to show you something truly special.
He is, quite simply, the best in the world. The Argentinian has led the line for Barcelona his entire career. The 30-year-old is a living legend and the best paid footballer in the world right now with a weekly salary of $880,000. He has more trophies than most teams, having led Barcelona to multiple Champions League triumphs. But the mercurial forward would love to add a World Cup triumph to his honour roll. Argentina lost out to Germany by the narrowest margin in the last final and this is almost certainly his last chance to take the honours on the world's biggest stage.
While Messi is the talisman at Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo is the hero for their main rivals, Real Madrid. He has lit up the Spanish league, helped his team defend the Champions League and he led the Portuguese national team to the Euro 2014 trophy. Ronaldo was a brilliant winger with electrifying pace, but he has transitioned into center forward over the years. He is one of the most decorated footballers of all time and he has an arsenal of records to look back on when he retires. Portugal's most-capped player has turned out for his country 149 times and he is in the twilight of his career, although he's in peak physical condition and doesn't look like the average 33-year-old. Look out for his trademark free kicks, from anywhere, and ludicrous displays of athleticism and control.
Neymar is a wildcard in this tournament. He has fought back from an injury that would have forced a lesser player to stay home, but the Brazilian is simply too good. Will he break down? Will he show signs of rust or will he be unplayable? Nobody knows right now. On his on days, the 26-year-old is a tour de force. That's why he's the world's most expensive footballer. He's strong, skips past players like they are standing still and he has a devastating finish. He also has an amazing set of teammates to support him. Can he light up the tournament? Definitely, but we're not sure whether he will.
This has been an incredible year for Mo Salah, who has lit up the world stage with Liverpool and potentially put himself in the running for the Ballon d'Or Award. Now the World Cup awaits and we're expecting to see some magic from this brilliant Egyptian forward. Unlike the others on this list, Salah will have to carry his team a little more. He can't win this tournament on his own and the squad simply doesn't have the depth to help him take the trophy. But if we're just looking for moments of majesty, then keep your eye on Mo Salah. He can skip past entire defences and has a ridiculously good left foot.
Rodriguez was the breakout star of the last World Cup. The world watched in awe as he scored the goal of the tournament. Since then, the Colombian joined Real Madrid, failed to impress, moved to Bayern Munich and is now enjoying a renaissance in Germany. He'll be looking to prove a point and he could still go on to become the top tier footballer that we saw last time. Colombia isn't as strong as Brazil or Argentina, so we're looking for individual brilliance rather than one man leading his team to ultimate victory. But, he showed us already just how good he can be.
Muller probably won't dance round seven players before planting a 30-yard screamer into the top corner. He's not that kind of player, but he is a ruthlessly efficient striker that could potentially become the highest scorer in World Cup history this time around. He has had 10 goals in two World Cups. He's chasing his countryman Miroslav Klose's record of 16. The defending champions have all the tools to help him achieve that goal. Muller is guaranteed legend status in any case, but if he can help Germany retain the World Cup and rewrite the record books in the process, he will become a footballing God.
Defenders don't often get a look-in at times like this because they do the dirty work and carry the water for the superstars up front. Ramos, though, is a little different. The Real Madrid defender is tough as nails, has a tendency to get sent off too much and yet he can pop up in the penalty box when he's needed most to score his trademark bullet headers. He's a great player. If he's on form then he can help lift Spain. Will it be enough? Probably not, but we should still take the time to revel in the defensive masterclass that will surely come.
The Chelsea forward has seemingly carried his club on occasion this year. He has been linked with a big money move to Real Madrid this summer and he will be on a mission in Russia. Belgium has an incredible line-up that includes the equally mercurial Kevin de Bruyne, but Hazard is the explosive player who will catch the eye and produce that little touch of magic. He can ghost past players in a flash, has a thunderbolt of a shot and should score goals for fun.
Griezmann is another player that should change clubs this summer. He's expected to sign for Barcelona. Before then, he wants to help France restore some pride. France won the World Cup in 1998 and finished as runner-up in 2006, but apart from that there have been a string of disappointments and they bowed out in the quarter-finals in Brazil. Griezmann is determined to do better than that and this classical, strong striker can make the difference. Watch out for him.
Nobody expects the winners of the first official World Cup in 1930 to repeat their heroics, but we do expect Luis Suarez to show his quality. Lionel Messi's teammate at Barcelona is a terrier up front and is known for a competitive spirit that once saw him suspended for biting an opponent. On his day, though, he is absolutely unstoppable and he will give defenders nightmares during the 2018 World Cup.