Star Players Most Likely to Get Injured During the World Cup

June 7, 2018 | insideinjuries | No Comments

Harry Kane F, England

England might seem like a favorite to win it all this year, especially considering they have one of the top strikers in the world on their squad, but repeated ankle injuries have made Harry Kane look like a mid-tier attacker at best. The two-time golden boot winner suffered a right ankle injury back in March but took less than a month off to recover. The Optimal Recovery Time for a moderate ankle ligament injury is 4-5 weeks, which means he came back way too soon.  

When he returned his explosiveness was obviously hindered, and the Tottenham attack all but fell apart. Some speculate that Kane returned from the injury when he was only half-healed. It’s also important to remember Kane has long dealt with right ankle issues. Last season he missed 10 games with a right ankle injury, and he also missed time in September 2016 to serious ligament damage in his right ankle. While England may have Europe’s best striker on their roster, it won’t be enough to take home the Cup if he’s only playing at 50%. Kane also comes with a very high risk of re-injury, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he doesn’t make it through the whole tournament.

Vincent Kompany D, Belgium

Belgium’s top defender, Vincent Kompany, is a major injury concern heading into the World Cup. His long list of groin and calf injuries dating back to 2015 make his ability to make it through the tournament without picking up an injury very unlikely. Our concerns were validated when it was announced this week that Kompany had picked up a groin strain in a friendly against Portugal. He is considered questionable for the first few matches of the Group Stage and is expected to undergo further scans in the coming days to determine the extent of the injury. Kompany’s history with groin problems makes this injury a serious concern. He missed almost an entire season in 2016 to a recurring groin injury that eventually required surgery. If this is an aggravation of his previous injuries, Belgium will likely have to face the World Cup without him.

Neymar F, Brazil

Brazilians held their breath in February when Neymar was stretchered off the field in tears during a PSG win over Marseille. There was speculation surrounding whether Neymar would go the surgery route or try to rehab quickly enough to return for PSG’s Champions League match against Real Madrid.

In the end, Neymar made what we believe was the right decision, opting to undergo surgery to repair a fissure fracture to the fifth metatarsal of his right foot.  Immediately after surgery was announced, Inside Injuries gave Neymar a 10 week Optimal Recovery Time. It’s been 14 weeks since he suffered the ankle sprain and fissure fracture, and Neymar returned to action with the Brazil national team in a friendly against Croatia. The star striker came on as a second-half substitute and scored the team’s first goal. Neymar did not appear to be hindered by his injury and looked as explosive as ever. While he will remain an Elevated Injury Risk through the group stage of the World Cup, Brazil can expect big things from their superstar. Even at less than 100%, he has the potential to be a real difference maker.

Alan Dzagoev M, Russia

Creative Russian mildfielder Alan Dzagoev has one of the most concerning injury histories on the entire squad. The reason for our concern is the amount of time he has missed over the past five years to hamstring and thigh injuries. It all start in 2013 when he missed nearly three months recovering from a thigh strain. He missed an additional month in 2015 to another thigh strain. Shortly after he returned from a foot fracture in 2016, Dzagoev was back on the bench with a hamstring strain than held him out for two months worth of action.

Then in the spring of 2017, Dzagoev pulled his hamstring, tried to return, but ended up aggravating the injury and was back on the bench. In the fall of 2017 he suffered an Achilles injury that kept him sidelined for four weeks, then he finished off the season with a thigh strain in April of 2018. Recurring lower body strains put stress on the surrounding muscles, increasing the likelihood of injury and fatigue. Dzagoev hasn’t had 6 months of healthy play since 2015, making him a High Injury Risk going into the 2018 World Cup.

Pepe D, Portugal

Given that 2018 is his final chance to take home a World Cup victory, it’s no surprise that veteran defender Pepe comes with some injury concerns. Pepe plays with an aggressive style that is the bedrock of Portugal’s defense, but the style of play also opens the door for significant injuries. In 2018 alone, Pepe has already dealt with a fracture toe as well as a moderate hamstring strain. The toe injury cost him five weeks of action and the strain three weeks.

But his injury woes date back to 2015. Pepe has dealt with four calf strains in the past three years (two to each side), and four thigh muscle injuries. He also dealt with fractured ribs last April and plantar fasciitis in his right foot back in 2016. Each of these injuries have kept him out an average of 3-4 weeks, but at some point they start to add up (and we haven’t even mentioned his ACL tear in 2009). There is no doubt Pepe will be out there balancing out Cristiano Ronaldo’s offense, but he’s at risk each time he goes into a hard tackle.

Gylfi Sigurdsson M, Iceland

Gylfi Sigurdsson is the brains of Iceland’s attack, but he barely made the final roster because of a knee injury in March that forced him to miss 12 weeks. While he was quiet during his start at Everton, he was the top scorer for Iceland in the qualifying campaign and was expected to help lead the team out of the Group Stage. Unfortunately, we believe he’s a High Injury Risk. Lengthy absences are tough to come back from, and knee injuries like Sigurdsson’s oftentimes affect the speed and explosiveness of an attacking mid-fielder. On top of that, it would only take a slight twist of the knee to aggravate his injury, put him back on the sidelines, and effectively end the hopes and dreams of Iceland fans everywhere.

Koo Ja-cheol M, South Korea

South Korea has already had to face the fact that they will be missing both Kim Jinsu and Kwon Chang-hun in the 2018 World Cup due to injuries. On top of that, one of their star midfielders, Koo Ja-cheol, is also a High Injury Risk. He suffered a left MCL strain in April that held him out until the beginning of June. Though he’s returned to training, the risk remains. He has dealt with various other injuries over the years including calf strains, a fractured toe, a partially torn ligament in his right knee and two concussions, just to name a few. Considering South Korea is already down two starting players, Ja-cheol’s ability to stay healthy will be extremely important if the team wants to make it out of the Group Stage.

Andres Guardado M, Mexico

Mexico has some serious injury concerns heading into the World Cup. Nesto Araujo is out after meniscus surgery in April, and Diego Reyes made the team by the skin of his teeth as he races to get fit after suffering a muscle tear in his right thigh. The other High Risk star coming out of Mexico is captain Andres Guardado. The midfielder underwent surgery on his lower leg in May. While he’s expected to be fit in time for the first match of the Group Stage, he’ll be a High Injury Risk. While the surgery itself is a concern, Guardado was already High Risk because of his long list of lower body injuries. He may only be 31 year old, but he has suffered six thigh and hamstring injuries since 2016, which means his lower body will be compromised as he plays in the high pressure matches of the World Cup.