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Breakout players at the 2022 World Cup

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nicholas Mendola discuss the USMNT 1-1 tie vs. Wales in its first 2022 World Cup match and the weaknesses of the Americans, including a shortage of experience overall and the inability to close out the second half.

Who will be the breakout stars of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

[ MORE: Ranking every World Cup team, 32-1 ]

We’re talking players who you hadn’t really seen play or heard too much about but now they are appointment viewing and are set for a big tournament, which could lead to stardom.

We could include the likes of Jamal Musiala, Jude Bellingham and Jonathan David in this list, but we aren’t doing that. You know all about those guys already.

[ MORE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Instead, here are players who are set to have a breakout 2022 World Cup.

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!

Breakout players at the 2022 World Cup

Noussair Mazraoui - Morocco and Bayern Munich

Made the switch from Ajax to Bayern Munich last summer and the silky defender, 24, has slotted in perfectly at Bayern at right back. Morocco are in a tough group but if Mazraoui and Co. can hold firm, they have the likes of Hakimi, Ziyech and Boufal who can cause problems going forward. Mazraoui and Ziyech refused to play for Morocco due to falling out with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic but he was fired and now they’re back in. Mazraoui has agreed to play left back for Morocco so both he and Hakimi can start. It has worked out very well.

Paraguay v Morocco - International Friendly

SEVILLE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27: Miguel Almiron of Paraguay competes for the ball with Noussair Mazraoui of Morocco during a friendly match between Paraguay and Morocco at Estadio Benito Villamarin on September 27, 2022 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Andreas Skov Olsen - Denmark and Club Brugge

A key man in Club Brugge’s superb run to the Champions League last 16, the young Danish winger has been a revelation for Denmark too. Skov Olsen, 21, already has 23 caps and eight goals for Denmark and scored in their Nations League wins against Austria and France (their Group D opponents at the World Cup) in recent months. He is a tricky winger who has no fear. Club Brugge will be getting plenty of enquiries about him in January.

Denmark v France: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 1

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 25: Andreas Skov Olsen of Denmark looks on during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between Denmark and France at Parken Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Goncalo Ramos - Portugal and Benfica

Chased by a host of Premier League clubs in the summer, we can now understand why. Goncalo Ramos, 21, has stepped up for Benfica and filled the void left by Darwin Nunez with eight goals in 18 games and the Portuguese giants are in the last 16 of the Champions League. His combination of clever movement, rapid runs and tidy finishing means he will be a real threat in this Portugal team. Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is the main man up top but expect Ramos to play a key role too.

SL Benfica v Rio Ave FC - Liga Portugal Bwin

LISBON, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 8: Goncalo Ramos of SL Benfica celebrates after scoring a goal during the Liga Portugal Bwin match between SL Benfica and Rio Ave FC at Estadio da Luz on October 8, 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Lee Kang-in - South Korea and Real Mallorca

A silky smooth playmaker, his role for South Korea just got more important as Heung-min Son’s injury may not see him at his very boost. Lee Kang-in is still just 21 years old but has huge experience in Spain and he’s been instrumental in some huge wins for Real Mallorca in recent weeks. So much of the focus is on Son for South Korea, and rightly so, but Lee Kang-in makes them tick. He won the player of the tournament at the 2019 U-20 World Cup.

Villarreal Cf V Rcd Mallorca - La Liga Santander

VALENCIA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 06: Kang-in Lee of Mallorca looks on during the Santander League match between Villareal CF and RCD Mallorca at the Ciutat de Valencia Stadium on November 6, 2022, in Valencia, Spain. (Photo By Ivan Terron/Europa Press via Getty Images)

Europa Press via Getty Images

Karol Swiderski - Poland and Charlotte FC

The Polish forward, 25, has been a revelation for Charlotte FC in MLS and he will be one of Poland’s main attackers supporting Robert Lewandowski. Swiderski can score a stunner but his tireless work in attack will go a long way to helping create chances for Lewandowski. There has already been plenty of interest in him based on his form in MLS in 2022. There will be even more after this World Cup.

Poland v Wales: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 4

WROCLAW, POLAND - JUNE 01: Karol Swiderski of Poland celebrates scoring a goal during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 4 match between Poland and Wales at Tarczynski Arena on June 1, 2022 in Wroclaw, Poland. (Photo by PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Kaoru Mitoma - Japan and Brighton

He’s been a revelation for Brighton since breaking into the team this season and the 25-year-old Japanese playmaker is on the rise in a big way. He was excellent for Union Saint-Gilloise in the Belgian Pro League last season and he’s scored five goals in eight games (including one against the USMNT) for Japan in 2022. He is so quick, skilful and direct. Mitoma and Japan will surprise a lot of people at this tournament.

Japan - USA

23 September 2022, North Rhine-Westphalia, Duesseldorf: Soccer: Internationals, Japan - USA, Merkur Spiel-Arena: Japan’s Mitoma Kaoru (M) is happy after the match with Yoshida Maya. Photo: Bernd Thissen/dpa (Photo by Bernd Thissen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

Xavi Simons - Netherlands and PSV Eindhoven

Belgium U23 v Netherlands U23 - International Friendly

LEUVEN, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 23: Xavi Simons of Netherlands U21 looks on during the Friendly Game match between Belgium U21 and Netherlands U21 at the King Power At Den Dreef Stadion on September 23, 2022 in Leuven, Belgium (Photo by Joris Verwijst/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Getty Images

He has never played for the Netherlands but made their World Cup squad. The 19-year-old midfielder excelled against Arsenal in the Europa League and is destined for the very top. So good on the ball, he makes superb runs from midfield and alongside Cody Gakpo, the PSV could be key to the Dutch team doing well at the World Cup. He has scored eight goals in 13 Eredivisie games for PSV in his first full season in the Dutch top-flight following his move from PSG. After spending time at Barcelona and PSG’s youth systems as a youngster, Simons has had an incredible grounding. The fact Louis van Gaal loves to give young players a chance also works in his favor.

Ruben Vargas - Switzerland and Augsburg


Switzerland’s midfielder Ruben Vargas celebrates during the UEFA Nations League League A - Group 2 football match Switzerland versus Czech Republic at Kybunpark stadium in St. Gallen on September 27, 2022. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland have some talented young players coming through the ranks with forwards Breel Embolo (still just 25) and Noah Okafor (22) getting plenty of attention. Make sure you pay close attention to Ruben Vargas, 24, too. The FC Augsburg winger has become a key man for Switzerland and is due to start on the left wing alongside Xherdan Shaqiri and Djibril Sow underneath center forward Embolo. Vargas is a tricky winger who is very unpredictable and is a joy to watch. His father hails from the Dominican Republic and his mother is from Switzerland as he grew up in Luzern’s academy before heading to Augsburg in the Bundesliga. Vargas was excellent for the Swiss at EURO 2020 and it seems like he will be a player plenty of teams in Europe will take a look at in January.

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