World Cup 2018: 6 Breakout stars of the group stage
The FIFA World Cup is one of the most popular sporting events, in which the whole world tunes in to watch the 32 best footballing nations battle it out to take home the grand prize. Each World Cup sees the rise of a few young stars who might not be household names yet in club football.
These young talented boys burst on the biggest stage and attain super-stardom and might earn themselves a move to a top European club to pursue the next phase of their footballing journey. Hence, the World Cup is the perfect platform for this young star to shine and to obtain a ticket to one of the big clubs.
In the previous World Cup in 2014, we saw this from James Rodriguez, who inspired Colombia to the quarterfinals in Brazil with six goals in five matches. His dazzling play earned him a big money move to Real Madrid.
The World Cup in 2018 has kicked off in fantastic fashion as we have seen major upsets, drama, beautiful goals and a few quite inspirational performances from the star players. We have also seen a few young stars put their hands up for their country and shine bright. In this article, we take a look at the top 6 breakout stars of the World Cup in the group stage.
#6 Manuel Akanji (Switzerland)
Akanji has shown maturity beyond his years at the heart of the defense in the first 3 games that has taken them to a second-round clash against Sweden. Switzerland will hope their young defender can keep it tight at the back and lead them further into the World Cup.
Manuel Akanji was signed by Borussia Dortmund in January this year for a reported €21.5 million after impressive showings at Swiss champions Basel. His cool displays at the back acted as the catalyst to the German club's late-season charge to the UEFA Champions League spot. Switzerland would have pinned high hopes on the youngster impressing on the world stage.
The young Borussia Dortmund defender showed immense mettle against a scary looking Brazil attack. He also showed composure on the ball and even drove forward well in possession and found his midfielders.
He defended well throughout the game and was one of the major reasons for keeping Gabriel Jesus at bay. In a crucial fixture against Serbia, Akanji was once against ready for the challenge and kept Aleksandar Mitrovic quiet, even after he scored the goal to put the Serbians in front. This battle proved crucial as the Swiss came out winners thanks to a last-minute winner from Xherdan Shaqiri.
He is surely one of the young centre-backs to watch out for and a few more solid showings might put him on the radar of the top English clubs looking for centre-backs.