Five predators ready to do damage at the World Cup

Timo Werner, pictured in April 2018, hit 21 goals for Leipzig last season

Saint Petersburg (AFP) – If this year’s Champions League is anything to go by, the upcoming World Cup could be one of the most goal-gluttonous yet, with a host of strikers hoping to capitalise on leaky defences in Russia. 

The current trend for swarming attacks, led by speedy forwards and daring full-backs, will have the game’s most lethal scorers licking their lips ahead of the opening match on Thursday. 

Here, we take a look at five penalty-box predators likely to do the most damage in the tournament. 

Timo Werner 

Germany were left with a Miroslav Klose shaped hole after he retired from international football in 2014 but the vacancy looks to have been filled by Werner, who hit 21 goals for Leipzig last season. With lightning pace and a cool head in front of goal, the 22-year-old will be eager to make a mark at his first major tournament. 

Gabriel Jesus 

Brazil are hardly lacking for talent in forward positions but Jesus is expected to lead the line, owing to his speed, finishing and quickness of thought around the penalty area. A knee injury in January was Manchester City’s loss but could be Brazil’s gain if Jesus heads into Group E with an extra spring in his step. Expect him to shine. 

Harry Kane 

Kane was officially confirmed as England’s captain last month and he is arguably the only player in Gareth Southgate’s squad among the world’s very best in his position. His form for Tottenham in the Champions League last term, where he scored seven goals in seven games, proves Kane can deliver on the highest stage. If England provide the service, Kane will find the net. 

Cristiano Ronaldo 

Ronaldo’s days of dribbling past hoards of scrambling defenders may be over but the Portugese has found a new lease of life for Real Madrid as an out-and-out striker. Dangerous with both feet and superb in the air, the 33-year-old heads into this World Cup with 50 goals in 50 games this season. He would love to add a Golden Boot to his glittering list of accolades. 

Iago Aspas 

Diego Costa had been the favourite to lead the line for Spain but Aspas is pushing for a start, after a brilliant season for Celta Vigo and scoring the winner in a friendly against Tunisia last weekend. Quick in behind and clinical around the box, Aspas can offer Spain a more direct approach when their possession game meets resistance. If given the chance, Aspas could catch fire.