That Man City are firmly in the driving seat in their quest to win the Premier League is beyond question. But can the players who have gelled so cohesively for Pep Guardiola this season repeat this feat in the World Cup in Russia this summer?
From Kevin De Bruyne to David Silva, Man City will be well represented. But the question most people will be asking, is whether City’s stars can reproduce their league form in the Russian heat?
Kevin De Bruyne
In Kevin De Bruyne and Belgium, a nation expects. The Belgians are sixth favourites to win a tournament that some feel is out of reach of Roberto Martinez’s side. The reason being that despite the wealth of talent available to England’s Group G opponents, the defensive reliability of Belgium’s rear-guard is suspect.
Kevin De Bruyne told France Football: "I want everything. Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup & Champions League. And I…
Voted into UEFA’s team of the year for 2017, a lot will depend on De Bruyne being able to replicate his remarkable form of poise and accuracy in City’s midfield this season. It is his coolness under pressure to the point that he looks like he feels no pressure, that gives him the apparent time and space to carve games open. His adroit passing, movement and shooting accuracy will be vital in a sold tournament progression for Belgium.
Brazil’s highest scorer in qualifying, Gabriel Jesus has been out of action since New Year’s Eve when he suffered knee ligament damage in a game against Crystal Palace. However, close to a return, he has plenty of time to regain match fitness.
A fit and on form Jesus would be a huge lift for Tite’s side. The former Corinthians coach who replaced Dunga in the summer of 2016 will be leaning on the City forward to lead the line.
Brazil’s Group E games are potentially tougher than the perception that Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica will roll over without a fight, against the group favourites. Jesus’s ability to hold on to the ball, his finishing and his ability to cut inside, will all be needed in his country’s endeavours to carve open the stubborn defences that await.
David Silva at 32 is a purists footballer and in Russia, he will be hoping to showcase his innate, technical brilliance. Spain will be hoping for a better start than their last World Cup opening match against the Netherlands four years ago when they were torn apart in a 5-1 demolition job.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has named Manchester City star David Silva as his favourite player in the Premier League.via Goal.com#footballplanetcom #davidsilva #jurgenklopp
This time an equally tough proposition awaits in the shape of Portugal at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on June 15th. Morocco and Iran will provide stern resistance too. In Silva, though, Julen Lopetegui has a player whose ball retention, passing and ability to both move into, and create, space is of the highest calibre. Silva may not guarantee Spain progression, but without him, there is little doubt they would not be the same threat.