World Cup 2018: 5 Man Utd players expected to shine in Russia

RealSport take a closer look at the Red Devils making the trip to Russia this summer.

REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

With 12 Manchester United players set to fly out to next week’s World Cup in Russia, RealSport take a look at the five players most likely to write the headlines on their nations’ back pages…

  1. 5 Marcus Rashford [England]

    REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

    Caps: 19 Goals: 3

    Marcus Rashford's rise at international level has been astounding.

    Breaking into the senior team last year, the 20-year-old has fought his way into contention for a starting place in Gareth Southgate's eleven, with a wonderful performance against Costa Rica -including a stunning goal- in the Three Lions' final friendly.

    This starting place, however, all hinges on what system the England boss decides to implement in Russia.

    KEY STAT: Rashford has more international goals than Raheem Sterling in half as many appearances.

    3-5-2 or 3-4-3 seem to be the two choices, with the latter allowing Rashford to play on the left of a front three, together with Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.

    It's in this half space on the left that Rashford thrives, with an air of Cristiano Ronaldo in the way he starts wide and drifts centrally.

    Speed kills. If Rashford is allowed to stretch his legs down the left flank against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, England are sure to reap the rewards. 

    Facing stronger opposition in the tournament's latter stages may relegate Rashford to a substitute's role, relying on his big impact. Either way, the youngster has a lot bring to this exciting England outfit.

  2. 4 Nemanja Matic [Serbia]

    REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

    Caps: 40 Goals: 2

    Nemanja Matic holds the key for a successful Serbian tournament.

    Dynamic in the middle of a robust midfield, the 29-year-old will have his hands full in a group containing tournament favourites Brazil, and a competitive Switzerland.

    KEY STAT: Matic made 64 interceptions in the 2017/18 Premier League.

    Recycling the ball on the edge of Serbia's third of the pitch is where Matic will thrive, providing a solid foundation for the likes of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to impact the game.

    In Tadic, Ljajic and Mitrovic, Serbia have enough going forward to cause problems in Group E, however, Matic will be the foundation that these attacks are built on.

  3. 3 Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)

    REUTERS/Francois Walschaerts

    Caps: 69 Goals: 36

    Much has been expected of Belgium's 'Golden Generation', however, without any gold, that title is made redundant.

    Romelu Lukaku can play a major role in changing this, with the Manchester United striker looking to add to his impressive international goal tally in Russia.

    The Belgians play with a lot more fluidity than Jose Mourinho's United, allowing Lukaku to move away from his reputation as a pure target man.

    KEY STAT: Lukaku has 19 goals in 12 international appearances since Euro 2016.

    With Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens supplying unrivalled service, Lukaku will have a lot of chances fall his way, and his international goal scoring record is something to marvel at.

    The 25-year-old is already Belgium's all-time top scorer, for example.

    One goal at the 2014 World Cup and two at Euro 2016 set Lukaku up nicely to punish the Panamanians and Tunisians in Group G. If England can be added to that list, Lukaku could be in line for the Golden Boot.

  4. 2 David de Gea [Spain]

    REUTERS/Juan Medina

    Caps: 29

    David de Gea is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment, particularly since Manuel Neuer missed the 2017/18 season through injury.

    Spain arrive in Russia in turmoil after the sacking of manager Julen Lopetegui just one day before the start of the tournament; it'll rest on the shoulders of experienced players -including de Gea- to drag the Spanish squad through the group stages without any unnecessary drama.

    KEY STAT: De Gea has been named in the PFA Team of the Year in five of his seven seasons in England.

    With Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique in front of him, de Gea's position in the Spanish net is well protected.

    We have become used to his acrobatics and camera-friendly saves in this year's Premier League, however, just avoiding making any mistakes may be all that is required of the 27-year-old in Russia.

    Despite their managerial madness, Spain are still worthy front-runners for this year's World Cup.

  5. 1 Paul Pogba [France]

     REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

    Caps: 54 Goals: 9

    France are being tipped as the most exciting team at the World Cup. Free-flowing, attacking football is the basis of this assumption, with Paul Pogba's freedom a catalyst to this style.

    With N'Golo Kante sitting in behind Pogba in the French midfield and Corentin Tolisso to the side, Pogba has a licence to join in the party in the final third, with Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele interlinking off of the United midfielder's service.

    KEY STAT: Paul Pogba was named the World Cup's best young player in 2014.

    Pogba's vision is close to perfection, able to pick out any pass on the pitch. 

    He may have had a turbulent start to life in the Premier League, however, when the eyes of the world are on a showman, the execution tends to be spot on. 

    After missing out on the European Championship two years ago, Pogba -along with his compatriots- will have a point to prove in Russia. 

Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss Group F in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.

  1. POLL: Which player will have the biggest impact at the World Cup?

    1. Marcus Rashford
    2. Nemanja Matic
    3. Romelu Lukaku
    4. David de Gea
    5. Paul Pogba
    6. Other
    29 votes
    Share Your Result

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