2018 World Cup Betting Advice: Overrated Players
There is certainly no shortage of hype leading up to the World Cup every year, and it feels like this year will be at least as intense as usual. There would be more domestic hype, of course, if the Americans hadn't completely botched the qualifying process. But worldwide hype will more than make up for that, and people who are excited about betting on the tournament will find all the information they could need.
Much of that hype is centered on the big-name players and the impact they could have in this tournament. And some of those guys simply won't live up to their big expectations. Here are five international stars who have a good chance of falling short of expectations and becoming overrated World Cup players:
Giovani dos Santos, Mexico: You don't have to trust me on this one - you can ask the guys who play against him most often. In an anonymous poll of 104 MLS players heading into the recently started season, the L.A. Galaxy forward was, by a solid margin, voted the most overrated player in the league. Most of the guys behind him were American nationals who were being blamed for falling short of the World Cup, so for dos Santos to beat them all - Michael Bradley, the American captain, was second in the voting - is striking. Dos Santos is a leader with the Galaxy, and they are coming off a lousy year. And he is a key leader on the Mexican team as well, and they are in a tough spot - they have a chance to do some damage, but their margin for error is very small. If dos Santos leads his national team like he leads his club team then there will be problems. He makes $7 million playing for the Galaxy, so he is viewed as a star - and guys of his caliber can be easily overrated.
Jack Wilshere, England: Again, you don't have to trust me on this one - his reputation for being overrated is of serious debate in the media in England where he plays for Arsenal. Roy Keane, the former Manchester United Legend who starred internationally for Ireland, recently called Wilshere the most overrated star in the world. Wilshere had just captained Arsenal to a loss to Ostersunds in a Europa League match. Keane talks too much, and his opinion isn't relevant - he's only the assistant manager of the Irish national team, so his opinion means nothing. But Wilshere is poised to play a big role for England at the World Cup, and there is some basis for the argument Keane makes - or at least some reasons to debate the situation.
Paul Pogba, France: Pogba, who just turned 25, was named best young player in Brazil in 2014, so expectations are high here. Pogba attracts attention. After leaving Manchester United for Juventus in a free transfer in 2011, he was brought back to Man U in 2016 for what was then a world-record transfer price. And Pogba is probably a victim of that transfer and the expectations that arise from it. He hasn't played up to the price, but how could anyone? He's incredibly talented, but at times both his club team and his national team have found that they perform better once they take him off. He's a controversial player on a team that wants to do some damage in Russia. He'll find himself at the center of attention again, but it remains to be seen how positive that is.
Emre Can, Germany: Everyone else on this list a much bigger star than Can, but Germany is favored to win the tournament, so any player on that squad will draw plenty of attention. He isn't likely to start regularly, but he is well trusted - he was a substitute in all five games at the Confederations Cup in 2017. Can is getting a lot of attention in the world soccer press right now because of his contract situation. He is eligible for a free transfer away from Liverpool this summer. And while he would be attractive on the open market, Liverpool wants to keep the defender around. That will raise expectations - perhaps too high for a guy who has the tendency to be slow of foot at key times.
Neymar, Brazil: I'm not suggesting that Neymar is bad or actually overrated - he's an all-time great, and at only 26 he's only just begun. But his impact at this tournament is almost certain to be overrated. Neymar is the most massive of stars on the highest profile of teams, so expectations will be enormous. But he broke his foot at the end of February, and he has had surgery. He may not be at full health, and even if he is he will be rusty. Everyone expects the world from Brazil every time they play. Even with him at full strength, they find ways to fall short, though, so his ability to work miracles here is almost certain to be overrated.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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