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Record-breakers: 8 stars looking to make World Cup history in Qatar

The legends that can etch their name into immortality in 2022.

The latest iteration of the World Cup is fast approaching, with the tournament in Qatar set to kick off in under a week. Brazil head into the competition the favourites, but there is certainly faith in the South American sides, with Argentina a close second.

There is also optimism that France can become the first defending Champions since 2006 to make it out of the group stages (when Brazil made it to the quarter-finals), and England, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany all harbour hopes of causing an upset in the middle east.

But players too can take centre stage, with plenty of records up for grabs this tournament. 101 takes a look at eight players who could seriously break records this winter.

1. Lionel Messi – Most appearances in the competition

This is likely to be the last World Cup for Lionel Messi, with the Argentine veteran now 35 years old and in the twilight of what has been an incredible career. However, he is not done just yet, and will break the record for most appearances by an Argentinian player should he feature in all of his side’s group-stage games.

The record (21) is currently held by Diego Maradona, but is likely to become one held by Messi come the end of the tournament.

Better yet, should Messi reach the final (as his side did in 2014), he will equal the all-time record for World Cup appearances, moving level with German midfielder Lothar Mattheus on 26 outings for his nation at the major tournament.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo – Scoring at the most World Cups

A man who never likes to be outshone by Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo is also expected to make this World Cup his last, but could take home a record of his own and, better yet, will stand alone in holding it.

In fact, all the Manchester United man has to do is score. And historically, he’s quite good at that. CR7 needs to net one goal to become the first man to score in five separate World Cups, currently sitting level with Pele on 4.

But, facing a crisis at Old Trafford and calls within his own nation to drop him from the starting XI, it remains to be seen how much of a chance to grab a goal he will get.

Harry Kane – Most goals for England at a World Cup and most ever golden boots

Next up is another lethal finisher in the form of Harry Kane, who could break as many as three records should he have a good tournament.

The Tottenham man is the current golden boot holder, having netted six times, and it leaves him just four goals behind Gary Lineker as the Englishman with the most World Cup goals.

He could also become the first player in history to win back-to-back golden boots (or golden shoe) at the World Cup, and is coming into the tournament on a run of 12 goals in 15 Premier League matches.

Even if he cannot live up to those heights, Kane needs just two goals to draw level with Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time top goalscorer, something that he will be desperate to achieve in Qatar.

Ivan Perisic- Most goals for Croatia at a World Cup

Sticking with a north London theme, Ivan Perisic could also become his country’s top goalscorer at the World Cup should he have a good tournament. At present, the Croatian utility man sits on five goals, level with Mario Mandzukic, and is just one behind all-time record-holder Davor Suker.

Two goals for the veteran, then, will take him clear at the top of the charts, and in a group with Canada, Morocco and an ageing Belgium side, he has a good chance to reach that milestone.

Manuel Neuer- Most clean sheets at a World Cup

Germany’s No.1 is another in what is likely his final World Cup, and needs three clean sheets to draw level as the shot-stopper with the most in the competition’s history.

Both Peter Shilton and Fabien Barthez sit on 10, and Neuer could join them with a strong group stage showing, and even go beyond them if his side make it out of a group containing Spain, Japan and Costa Rica, where he will be confident of picking up at least two.

Of course, Neuer could have achieved this four years ago in Russia, but a terrible group stage performance saw Germany knocked out, without a clean sheet to their name and leaving the tournament in disgrace.

Luis Suarez- most Man Of The Match awards

Luis Suarez has had his moments at World Cups, whether it be a bite, a handball or, more frequently, a match-winning performance for Uruguay. In fact, the 35-year-old has been named man of the match on five occasions, just one fewer than both Messi and Ronaldo.

With the record held by the pair with six, Suarez needs to register two more than the iconic duo to move out in the front, on his own.

Toby Alderweireld and Hector Moreno – Most Yellow Cards

Centre-backs love a booking, and this veteran duo are no different. Both picked up a pair of cautions in 2018 to take their total tally in World Cups to 4. The current record holder is Javier Mascherano, who picked up his seventh yellow card in 2018, meaning that the pair need just three this tournament to move level with the Argentine midfielder.

Given that both are now well beyond 30 years old, and Belgium in particular have a strong chance of making it out of the group stages, a potential new record is on the cards.

*Note, Cristiano Ronaldo is also on four yellow cards, but that is across four tournaments rather than two, and as a forward we deemed him less likely to be booked three times this winter.

Benjamin Pavard- Most Goal of the Tournament Awards

Few can forget Benjamin Pavard’s fantastic strike for France against Argentina in the World Cup four years ago, with the swerving volley declared goal of the tournament come the end of the showpiece in Russia.

And should the right-back be able to pull off something equally stunning in Qatar, he would become the first player in history to win two goal of the tournament awards, which would be quite something for a defender.

Of course, the chances are slim, but there is still a chance.


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Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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