The race for the future GOAT continues in the 2022 World Cup with nine players under the age of 23 playing a key role in their country's progress.
Dec. 10, 2022
4 min read
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We look at nine players under the age of 23, who have played a key role in leading their countries to the knockout stages. French superstar Kylian Mbappe stands head and shoulders above his peers, but he faces some tough competition.
MOROCCO V PORTUGAL
Goncalo Ramos – Portugal
Ramos scored a hattrick in the only game he has started in Qatar against Switzerland in the round of 16. He is only one of four Portuguese players along with Eusebio, Pauleta and Cristiano Ronaldo to score a Fifa World Cup hat-trick.
The Benfica forward had a hand in four goals - scoring three and creating one assist. He made his international debut a week before Portugal’s first game of the tournament in a friendly against Nigeria where he scored and made an assist in a 4-0 win on the 17 November.
If the Portuguese fans had any worries about a replacement for their legend Ronaldo, Ramos did enough to quell those fears. At age 21, he still has a long way to go but has displayed glimpses of a future star.
Joao Felix – Portugal
The Atletico Madrid forward has 27 caps and four goals for Portugal. He was 19 years old when he made his debut in the 2019 Uefa Nations League semifinal against Switzerland, on 5 June 2019.
Felix made three starts in Qatar and has been an integral part of Portugal’s run of success at the 2022 World Cup. He has had four goal involvements, making two assists while scoring one goal.
Rafael Leao – Portugal
Leao made his debut in October 2021 in a friendly against Qatar. He played in all four of Portugal’s games in Qatar coming off the bench. He is yet to start a game in Qatar but has scored two goals. The AC Milan left-winger has scored a goal every 31 minutes he has been on the field.
ENGLAND V FRANCE
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Kylian Mbappe – France
The PSG star has averaged a blistering 1.52 goals per 90 minutes in Qatar and the French will look to him for inspiration against the English. He has scored nine Fifa World Cup goals across two tournaments, five in 2022 and four in 2018.
Mbappe has also proved to be a team player as he has been involved in 12 goal opportunities in 11 World Cup games, scoring nine and making three assists.
Aurélien Tchouaméni - France
Tchouaméni has only missed one of France’s last 19 games since making his debut in September 2021. He has played in all four of France’s games in Qatar. He made his debut for France on 1 September 2021 against Bosnia in the Uefa Nations League.
Eduardo Camavinga – France
Camavinga made his France debut back in September 2020 against Croatia in a Uefa Nations League game. The Real Madrid star played five games for France. He has only featured once for France in Qatar in the group stages against Tunisia.
Camavinga won 18 duels in France’s group stage defeat to Tunisia, the most by a Frenchman in a single World Cup game going back to 1966.
Bukayo Saka – England
Saka has cemented his place in the English squad and with 24 caps and seven World Cup appearances for England.
Qatar 2022 will rank as his most memorable so far as he scored three goals in three appearances for England. He scored a brace in England’s opening game as the English ran riot in the 6-2 triumph over Iran. He then netted England’s third goal in their 3-0 win over Senegal in the last 16.
Jude Bellingham - England
Bellingham is only the second teenager after Michael Owen in 1998 to score at the Word Cup for England. He was the first teenager since Michael Owen in 1998 to start a Fifa World Cup knockout game for England.
He has made 21 appearances for England with his only goal coming in Qatar, during England’s opening win over Iran. He was just 17 years old when he made his international debut for England against the Republic of Ireland in a 3-0 win on 12 November 2020.
Phil Foden – England
Foden made his first start in Qatar during the 3-0 win over Wales and scored in the game. He has made three goal contributions at the World Cup, scoring one goal and contributing a brace of assists against Senegal. He has been central to England’s progression in Qatar.
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by BY SAM HILL, FOOTBALL LONDON
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