Chelsea: 5 Blues players expected to shine in Russia

Chelsea will be represented well this summer at the World Cup but which of their players will make the biggest impact?

REUTERS/Eric Vidal

For most fans of Premier League teams, the summer is a time of rest and recuperation, at the same time keeping one eye on the transfer rumours and the internal runnings of the club. 

In a World Cup year, though, things are slightly different. There are club players to keep an eye on and the finals also offers a good chance to check out the players whose names keep cropping up in the rumour mills.

With 12 Chelsea players making the trip to Russia this summer, RealSport take a look at the five players most likely to make an impact on the World Cup finals. 

  1. 5 Gary Cahill - England

    Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

    Caps: 59 Goals: 5

    A shock entry at number five, Gary Cahill's days in the England outfit have looked numbered over recent months as Gareth Southgate has taken a pragmatic approach to investing in young players.

    Harry Maguire, John Stones, James Tarkowski and even Phil Jones looked to get the nod over the Chelsea captain. However, recent appearances have strengthened the 32-year-olds argument for a place in the starting eleven. 

    Man of the Match in England's recent friendly against Nigeria, Cahill marshalled the three-man defence alongside Kyle Walker and John Stones: this should prove to be the difference in his selection ahead of Harry Maguire in Russia.

    Cahill looks more comfortable on the left side of a back three rather than in the middle. With Stones - a comfortable ball-playing centre-back - alongside him, Cahill's experience in the England fold should prove an invaluable commodity for the chances of the Three Lions in Russia.

  2. 4 Thibaut Courtois - Belgium

    REUTERS/David Klein

    Caps: 56

    Contractual issues with Chelsea aside, Thibaut Courtois has a big summer ahead in Russia. 

    Tasked with keeping clean sheets in his Group G fixtures against Panama, Tunisia and England (ahem!), 'Tibo' has time to settle into the competition before the bigger tests arrive.

    Blighted by his crucial errors in Chelsea's Champions League Round of 16 tie with Barcelona, the Belgian is looking to throw his hat back into the ring in the discussion about the world's elite goalkeepers. 

    This golden generation of Belgian players is yet to live up to its unquestionable potential - Courtois' role in Belgium's World Cup venture should not be understated.

  3. 3 Cesar Azpilicueta - Spain

    REUTERS/Scott Heppell

    Caps: 22 Goals: 0

    Despite his limited experienced at international level, Cesar Azpilicueta's pedigree on the biggest stage is without question.

    Chelsea's first name on the team sheet for the past few seasons, 'Dave' has prided himself on reliable performances on the right of a back three. However, his positioning for his country is fluid.

    With the injury sustained to Dani Carvajal in the final of the Champions League, Azpilcueta should slip seamlessly into the right-back position of a back four. However, with the 28-year-old recently been trialled at centre back in a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, it would appear that Julen Lopetegui is still uncertain where's best to play Azpilicueta.

    Spain will always head into a major tournament as one of the favourites. Azpilcueta has a hunger for the game that should be cherished by every manager that is lucky enough to coach him. His role at the World Cup could prove decisive. 

  4. 2 N’Golo Kante - France

    REUTERS/Hannah McKay

    Caps: 23 Goals: 1

    France are looking dangerous going into the World Cup. Built on speed and fluidity throughout the pitch, they have the capability to out-gun the finest of opponents. 

    This creative flair has to built on foundations. That foundation is N'Golo Kante.

    Expected to sit in a midfield consisting of Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba, Kante will cover every inch of grass, chasing down every loose ball in order to recycle the possession. 

    Much of France's impressive attacking play is reliant on the cover that Kante gives them. Freedom to express.

    This French side is expected to go deep into this year's World Cup and, if they do, Kante will undoubtedly be a candidate for player of the tournament. 

  5. 1 Eden Hazard - Belgium

    REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

    Caps: 82 Goals: 22

    National captain and national icon, Eden Hazard is a special player. 

    Another hot-and-cold season at Chelsea has left fans wondering whether the 27-year-old will ever live up to his full potential. However, a lot of what Hazard does well doesn't result in individual feats.

    Drawing the fouls of unsuspecting right backs; jinking inside and feeding the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens and Kevin De Bruyne; dropping onto the edge of the box to work neat triangles to recycle their attacks: Hazard's low centre of gravity, quick feet, balance and guile have allowed him to become one of the worlds most sort-after footballers.

    With Panama and Tunisia in his opening two fixtures for Belgium, expect to see glimpses of the best Hazard there is. If he can turn it on against the bigger sides deeper into the tournament, then we may just witness Hazard's rise to the very top of the sport. 

    Messi and Ronaldo's days are numbered. Neymar has a +1 to take to the next party. Who's to say it won't be Eden?

    Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss the potential winners of the World Cup in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.

  1. Poll: Who do you expect to make the biggest impact in Russia?

    1. Gary Cahill
    2. Thibaut Courtois
    3. Cesar Azpilicueta
    4. N'Golo Kante
    5. Eden Hazard
    6. Other
    38 votes
    Share Your Result

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