The 32 Hottest Players at World Cup 2018: One Very Good Reason to Follow Each Country

Need a reason to care about the World Cup? Here are 32 very good ones, one for each team.

Photo by Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images

For most of the globe, World Cup 2018, which kicks off this Thursday in Russia, is the cherry atop a bottomless sundae of football obsession, all the more delicious for its only-every-four-years exclusivity. This go-round, however, the USA will be going to bed without dessert: Our national team didn’t even qualify. But don’t let the lack of an obvious patriotic bandwagon deny you the competitive joys of a bunch of dudes Doin’ It For Their Country; even if you’re not that invested in the actual outcome of, say, Iceland v. Croatia, there’s still plenty to enjoy out on the pitch. And we do mean enjoy: We’ve bravely scanned the faces and physiques of all 32 national teams in the World Cup, and found at least one sweaty, sexy-as-hell athlete from each squad for you to keep an eye on for 90-plus minutes a match. Because while soccer is the world’s most popular sport, everyone knows that the one true international language is love.


Egypt: Ramadan Sobhi.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – APRIL 28: Ramadan Sobhi of Stoke applauds the support at the end of the Premier League match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield on April 28, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images

We’re coming out of the gate strong here with a team that is, overall, LOADED with hotness. It also boasts the oldest player in World Cup history (45-year old captain and goalkeeper Essam El-Hadard). We went back and forth between multiple Egyptian players—truly, our job is such a drudge—before giving forward Ramadan, 21, the ultimate nod. However, we’re open to further discussions about the relative hotness of his teammates. May Egypt go far this year to facilitate this continued scrutiny.

Honorable mention: Abdallah Said.

Russia: Aleksandr Golovin.

Granted, as Americans, it does feel politically awkward right now to lust after a Russian. But there’s a reason “star-crossed lovers” is a cliché, and great ‘80s romances were built from less. Here, our pick is team star Aleksandr Golovin—and, yes, it’s at least partly because, in English, his last name literally spells out a command to make love, not war.

Uruguay: Nahitan Nandez

Uruguay’s star player Luis Suarez is objectively handsome, but he’s also noteworthy for having intentionally bitten three people during games, and was suspended for what England’s Football Association terms “racial abuse.” (He also got in trouble for head-butting a ref, and for making obscene gestures. He’s… a lot.) Ergo, our nod goes to the much younger, much less problematic Nandez, 22, who both looks like he could easily star on a CW soap and also hasn’t attacked anyone with his teeth. Yet.

Saudi Arabia (KSA): Mansoor Al-Harbi.

Saudi Arabia’s defender Mansoor Al-Harbi is seen prior to the international friendly football match between Germany and Saudi Arabia at the BayArena stadium in Leverkusen, western Germany, on June 8, 2018. (Photo by LEON KUEGELER / AFP) (Photo credit should read LEON KUEGELER/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by Leon Kuegeler/AFP/Getty Images

In the course of writing this piece, it became clear to us that many handsome footballers are only like 19 years old. Rest assured: Despite his appealing, youthful face, Mansoor is 30 and therefore totally appropriate for all of us to ogle.


Portugal: Andre Silva

Admit it: You expected Cristiano Ronaldo’s name here, given that he’s one of the most famous—and famously sculpted, in more ways than one—footballers in the world. But we believe Ronaldo has already begun passing the torch to his fellow forward: Silva, 22, is a touch more rugged, has an impressive head of hair, and for what it’s worth, is clearly no stranger to abs himself.

Honorable mention: So many, but let’s go with Adrien Silva and his if-Ben-Affleck-were-still-hot quality.

Iran: Ramin Rezaeian

Fifa World Cup Russia 2018 Friendly Matchs / “rIran vs Panama 2-1 ,Merkur Arena Graz (Aut) / “rRamin REZAEIAN (Iran)

Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

Ramin, 28, is a defender for Iran, another team that is thrilled just to be there but isn’t expected to go deep. So don’t miss his superb head-suit on the field; sometimes, he gets sculptural with it. Oh, and his triceps also seem extremely relevant to our collective interests.

Extremely honorable mention: Morteza Pouraliganji.

Spain: César Azpilicueta

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 22: Alvaro Morata of Chelsea celebrates scoring the 2nd Chelsea goal with Cesar Azpilicueta and Tiemoue Bakayoko during the The Emirates FA Cup Semi Final match between Chelsea and Southampton at Wembley Stadium on April 22, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Again, we ignored the obvious choice, Gerard Pique, a.k.a. Shakira’s hot piece. We all already know he’s a babe, because Shakira’s hips would never lie to us. Then we almost gave it to a dude who didn’t make the team, and thus, hearts broke across our office. Fortunately, Spain’s roster is lousy with dishes, so here’s veteran defender César Azpilicueta, 28, whom we think of as If Sebastian Stan Were A Sexy Baller. Check him out in a suit. Rowr.

Morocco: Mehdi Carcela

20180407 – Genk , Belgium / Krc Genk v Standard de Liege / “nMehdi CARCELA”nFootball Jupiler Pro League 2017 – 2018 Play-Off 1 Matchday 2 / “nPicture by Vincent Van Doornick / Isosport

Photo by Vincent Van Doornick/Isosport/Getty Images

Carcela is a midfielder for Morocco, and you’ll have to drink him in early, as Morocco is not at all favored to advance. It takes a special kind of cute to carry a whole poster in which your face is superimposed on The Kremlin, though, and he’s got more than enough.

Honorable mention: Youssef ait Bennasser.


France: Djibril Sidibé.

France is surely on edge waiting to find out if Djibril is fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered in April. We’re also concerned—but mostly because we would miss his spectacular cheekbones if he had to sit this one out.

Honorable mentions: Olivier Giroud and Hugo Lloris.

Australia: Mathew Leckie

ANTALYA, TURKEY – JUNE 05: Mathew Leckie of Australia controls the ball during the Australian Socceroos Training Session at Gloria Football Club on June 5, 2018 in Antalya, Turkey. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Sure, his face is model-handsome, but don’t overlook his legs.

Peru: Andre Carrillo

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – MARCH 23: Andre Carrillo of Peru looks on during the international friendly match between Peru and Croatia at Hard Rock Stadium on March 23, 2018 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

As recently as March, Andre was blond; and before that, his hair was orange. We’re excited to see him in action in Russia, but we might be more excited to see whatever he might do next to his hair.

Denmark: Mathias Jorgensen

BRONDBY, DENMARK – MARCH 22: Mathias Zanka Jorgensen of Denmark controls the ball during the International friendly match between Denmark and Panama at Brondby Stadion on March 22, 2018 in Brondby, Denmark. (Photo by Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Images)

Photo by Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Images

If your primary goal in choosing which team you’re backing in the World Cup is based on whether they boast players who believably could have been in a very attractive boy band, start with Denmark and start with Mathias.

Honorable mention: Nicolai Jorgensen (Related: Are all Jorgensens hot?!).


Argentina: Marcos Rojo

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 19: Marcos Rojo of Manchester United leaves the team hotel ahead of the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 19, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

CALM DOWN, Argentina fans: We love Lionel Messi, too, and we’re not trying to poke the devotees. But he is on his way out of international competition—he already briefly retired once in 2016—and it might be time to steel ourselves against that future loss by giving our hearts elsewhere. So, in the name of branching out, Marcos is an excellent (and excellently coiffed) option.

Iceland: Rúrik Gíslason

Rurik Gislason of Icelandduring the friendly match between Ireland and Iceland on March 28, 2017 at the Aviva stadium in Dublin, Ireland.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

Photo by VI Images via Getty Images

Listen, it’s not the World Cup without a dude you think is good-looking despite his man-bun. And, to borrow from Zoolander, Rúrik is really, really ridiculously good looking.

Croatia: Duje Ćaleta-Car

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA – APRIL 12: Duje Caleta-Car of Salzburg controls the ball during the UEFA Europa League quarter final leg two match between RB Salzburg and Lazio Roma at Red Bull Arena on April 12, 2018 in Salzburg, Austria. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Duje looks like the actor you’d cast to play the hero in your World Cup rom-com, where he falls in love with the young woman coach working her way up through the ranks with moxie. Do you think he can act? Someone get ahold of Netflix.

Nigeria: William Troost-Ekong

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 02: William Troost-Ekong of Nigeria during the International Friendly between England and Nigeria at Wembley Stadium on June 2, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images)

Photo by James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images

The Nigerian World Cup team is called the Super Eagles, and William definitely qualifies as super. On brand!

Honorable mention: Victor Moses.


Costa Rica: Cristian Gambo

RECIFE, BRAZIL – JUNE 20: Cristian Gamboa of Costa Rica celebrates after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica at Arena Pernambuco on June 20, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Cristian is undeniably handsome, but he also gets bonus points for having fantastic eyebrows.

Brazil: Neymar Jr.

MADRID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 14: Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, Neymar Jr, of Paris Saint Germain prior to the UEFA Champions League 2017-18 Round of 16 (1st leg) match between Real Madrid vs Paris Saint Germain at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 14 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)

Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Neymar is extremely good at soccer, but noting that he’s highly skilled in his profession of choice shouldn’t also preclude us from ogling him. We can multitask.

Serbia: Filip Kostić

LAENGENFELD, AUSTRIA – JULY 22: Filip Kostic of Hamburg looks on during the Training Camp of Hamburger SV on July 22, 2017 in Laengenfeld, Austria. (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images)

Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images

Many of the World Cup pundits have expressed concerns that Serbia’s team is too old. Leaving aside the fact that we’re offended by this as old people, Filip here is a spritely 25, so hopefully we’ll get to eyeball him for many years to come.

Switzerland: Fabian Schär

Fabian Schar (Deportivo) during a International friendly match between Spain against Switzerland in La Ceramica Stadium, Villarreal, Spain, on 03 June of 2018. (Photo by Jose Breton/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Photo by Jose Breton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s fine. This dude just literally looks like a Disney prince. NBD.


Germany: Jérôme Boateng

Germany’s defender Jerome Boateng speaks with journalists during a so-called media day in the team hotel on June 5, 2018 in Girlan, near Bolzano, northern Italy, ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

Germany has a murderer’s row of good-looking goalies. But there’s something too enticing about Boateng’s off-the-pitch glasses, as if he’d be just as delighted to bang around a football as he is to sit down and have a deep chat about quantum entanglement. On the field, Jerome, 29, is one of the best defenders in the game, so he’s got that going for him too, we suppose.

Honorable mention: If we must choose one goalie, it’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Mexico: Rafael Márquez

Mexico CITY, Mexico – MAY 31: Rafael Marquez of Mexico, salutes during the farewell ceremony for the Mexico National Team ahead its participation in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia at Residencia Oficial de Los Pinos on May 31, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Márquez, at 39, is essentially the team’s hot dad, and is about to be only the third player in history to participate in five World Cup squads. However, we regret to inform you that Hot Dad might have a questionable streak: He’s competing under a cloud of suspicion about whether his businesses have been fronts for drug traffickers. Should this disqualify him from his hotness? Well… it’s not great. But the midfielder says he’s innocent, and if we can be extra extra shallow for a second… look at that hotness. Let’s just slip into denial about this problematic fave while the law works this out.

Honorable mention: The Dos Santos brothers, Giovani and Jonathan.

South Korea: Kim Shin-wook

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – MAY 21: Kim Shin-Wook of South Korea attends the sending off ceremony for FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 at Seoul City Hall on May 21, 2018 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Kim is listed at 6’5”, so he’s not just a refreshing drink of water; he’s also the proverbial tall one. He’s also apparently been nicknamed “Christian brother” by his teammates for the fact that he reads the Bible before games. Which is neither here nor there, but since we just endorsed a dude who might have ties to drug lords, we wanted you to know our tastes run to the virtuous, too.

Sweden: Martin Olsson

Photo @martinolss3

Olsson, 30, is plenty cute on his own, but he comes with perks: First, he has an equally adorable twin brother who also plays soccer. And his brother-in-law is Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, so you can… fantasize about NBA tickets? Sure, let’s go with that.


Belgium: Thorgan Hazard

BRUSSELS,BELGIUM – JUNE 2: Thorgan HAZARD on the bench during a friendly game between Belgium and Portugal , as part of preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, on June 2, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by Frank Abbeloos – Isosport

Photo by Frank Abbeloos – Isosport

Thorgan is a 25-year-old midfielder who’s been nicknamed “Toto,” and y’all, that’s fine, because we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Honorable mention: Axel Witsel. Those eyes.

Panama: Michael Amir Murillo

Panama’s Michael Amir Murillo is pictured before the start of the international friendly football match against Northern Ireland at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City on May 29, 2018. (Photo by Rodrigo ARANGUA / AFP) (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images

We had a hard time researching this team fully—just try Googling a dude named “Alex Rodriguez” and getting anything other than A-Rod pics, no matter what descriptors you add. The good news is, we didn’t need to dig that hard: Welcome to Michael Murillo, 22, a defender who plays in the U.S. for the New York Red Bulls. He’s dreamy and he’s (relatively) local, so you’re more easily able to appreciate his, er, skills in person.

Tunisia: Fakhreddine Ben Youssef

Tunisia’s forward Fakhreddine Ben Youssef looks on prior to the football match between Tunisia and Turkey at the Stade de Geneve stadium in Geneva on June 1, 2018. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

This 26-year old forward is a tasty cross between Prince Harry and whichever your favorite Weasley is. And he owns a Roger Federer t-shirt, so maybe Fed will decide to swing by Russia and lend his own handsome support.

Honorable mention: Bassem Srarfi.

England: Jack Butland and Ruben Loftus-Cheek

HERTFORD, ENGLAND – JUNE 01: Jack Butland during an England Training Session at The Grove Hotel on June 1, 2018 in Hertford, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

England’s Ruben Loftus-Cheekduring International match between England against Nigeria at Wembley stadium, London, on 02 June 2018 (Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This was a toughie. On the one hand, Butland, the 25-year old keeper, has more than a soupçon of Young David Beckham about him; on the other, BEHOLD RUBEN’S QUADS. And they both have such great names (Butland Loftus-Cheek would make a fantastic ad agency). In the end, we’ve decided this decision is above our emotional pay grade and we’re choosing them both.

Honorable mention: Newbie Trent Alexander-Arnold.


Colombia: Radamel Falcao

PARIS, FRANCE – APRIL 15: Radamel Falcao of AS Monaco reacts during warmup before the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint Germain and AS Monaco at Parc des Princes on April 15, 2018 in Paris, . (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images )

Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

“It’s your turn soon, young one. But for now, the Falcao flies alone.”

Honorable mention: The young one, aka James Rodriguez.

Poland: Łukasz Piszczek

SINSHEIM, GERMANY – MAY 12: Lukasz Piszczek of Dortmund controls the ball during the Bundesliga match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on May 12, 2018 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

This decision was made completely clear when we noticed that the muscles around the 33-year old defender’s kneecap are the size of a young mountain range.

Senegal: Keita Baldé Diao

Keita Balde Diao of Lazio celebrating the victory during the Italian TIM Cup 1st leg semifinal football match on March 1, 2017 at the Olympic stadium in Rome. (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Keita, a 23-year old forward on the rise who plays in Monaco as his day job, is lauded for his quick feet and dribbling skills and yada yada yada come on, his abs win the day.

Honorable mention: Alfred N’Diaye

Japan: Yoshinori Muto

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN – MAY 30: Yoshinori Muto of Japan looks on during the international friendly match between Japan and Ghana at Nissan Stadium on May 30, 2018 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

“I volunteer as tribute!”


What team shouldn’t you watch? If we learned anything in writing this piece, it’s that the old stereotype is true: Soccer players are hot. It must be all that fresh air and cardiovascular exercise. Having said that, England, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, Iceland, and Iran are all worth a more thorough ogle.


In World Cup parlance, the “Group of Death” is the most competitive one, from which it will be the most difficult to advance to the next round. In our parlance, it is the group that made it hardest to choose any one display of hotness over another; the group that, in its entirety, could most feasibly immolate any competition simply by staring at them and flexing their thighs a bit. In the end, we cannot deny a group that boasts both Spain and Portugal, and did you see the Iranian team in suits?!? Bring it on, World Cup 2018!

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan write the snarky celebrity fashion website Go Fug Yourself, and are the authors of the best-selling novel, The Royal We.