Top athletes in any competition compel fans to watch, and this year's World Cup is no different.
The 2018 World Cup hosted by Russia offers a number of soccer's best players all vying to help their countries make deep runs. With the domestic seasons over, everyone's attention is on Russia beginning June 14, with a number of top names to follow.
Here are 10 players to watch (other than the obvious Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) throughout the 2018 World Cup:
Robert Lewandowski, Poland
Lewandowski tied for the most goals scored out of any region during qualifying with 16. Tall and strong, he poses a formidable target for Polish midfielders looking for an outlet. Though he rarely fires from outside the box, his positioning and quick feet allow him to score goals in bunches.
This Poland team hasn't been getting a ton of buzz, but the pieces are in place for Lewandowski to lead them on a run.
Christian Eriksen, Denmark
Eriksen almost single-handedly led Denmark to a European World Cup playoff victory, securing its place here. Crafty with the ball at his feet, Eriksen spends more time creating than scoring at Tottenham, but he's given the green light to shoot for Denmark.
Gifted with a strong foot, Eriksen often scores highlight goals, curling around defenders or zipping past keepers in the top corners. Never boring, Eriksen will provide entertainment to those unfamiliar with his talent.
Mohamed Salah, Egypt
Possibly the favorite to win Ballon d'Or after leading the Premier League in goals and ripping up the Champions League while leading Liverpool to the final, Salah should become a household name this summer. Fast with the ball and tricky with his feet, Salah can score from any angle inside or outside the box.
After failed stints with Chelsea and in Italy, Salah found a home with Liverpool and evolved into one of the most potent goalscorers in the world. A shoulder injury during the Champions League Final is a concern, though.
Antoine Griezmann, France
After leading club team Atletico Madrid to the Europa League title this season, Griezmann proclaimed that he's among the three best players in the world. He may not be wrong, but it was a bold statement nonetheless from a forward who struggled to score the first half of the season.
Though undersized, Griezmann is physical on the ball and quick through traffic. He often scores in bunches but needs to add some consistency. If he can score a few goals this tournament, fans might echo his claim.
Harry Kane, England
Ever since his improbable rise up the ranks at Tottenham, the hometown hero has banged in goal after goal for the Premier League club. His proclivity for goals has not translated to an England kit, but the tall poacher will be counted on to change that this summer.
England has struggled in the big events, failing to score regularly with blunders becoming too present on the defensive end. Kane and Manchester City star Raheem Sterling have the opportunity to change English fortunes.
Though still working his way back from a foot injury that cost him most of his inaugural PSG season, Neymar looks poised to star in the World Cup. The phenom scores for Brazil at an alarming rate, and the nation's open style of attack should lend itself to more Neymar goals this year.
While his club future is cloudy (it seems to be every year at this point), Neymar has always been focused when slipping on a Brazil kit.
Eden Hazard, Belgium
Despite enduring another tough season at Chelsea, leaving his future with the club in doubt (because he might choose to leave, not because Chelsea wants to get rid of him), Hazard will turn his attention to the national team this summer.
Faster with the ball at his feet than without it, Hazard glides through defenders as if they aren't even there. Patient, with an eye for the dramatic, Hazard sometimes passes too much. His signature move is cutting in from the left wing and firing a strike toward the right-top corner of the net.
James Rodriguez, Colombia
Four years ago, Rodriguez burst onto the scene with spirited performances while leading Colombia to the quarterfinals in Brazil. The future looked bright for Rodriguez, but his career stalled at Real Madrid, leading to a move to Bayern Munich.
Back with the national team, where he is the main man, Rodriguez may rediscover the exuberance and form that made him a star.
Timo Werner, Germany
The 22-year-old has earned just 12 caps for Germany but suddenly finds himself as the nation's much-needed leading man up front. Werner has scored 34 goals in 65 matches for current club team RB Leipzig, and he has garnered interest from Liverpool.
Germany enters the tournament as the favorite, having won in 2014 and claiming the Confederations Cup. Werner will be counted on for goals, with the likes of Thomas Muller and Marco Reus in behind him. If Werner brings his club form to Russia, Germany might be unstoppable.
Sadio Mane, Senegal
Out of all the African nations in the 2018 World Cup, Senegal has the most firepower. Mane helped lead Liverpool to the Champions League Final, scoring goals as part of a three-headed attack monster. For Senegal, he is the leading man, using his speed and energy to score and create for others.
Despite drawing a quietly tough group, Senegal and Mane have an opportunity to shine.