FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia: Europe's kings make a mark on the world
12:00 AM, June 28, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:22 AM, June 28, 2018

Europe's kings make a mark on the world

Eyes all over the globe are glued to television sets and online streams with the World Cup in full swing, but for those ardent fans who follow their club teams round the season year after year, there is a special meaning to every match and performance in Russia.

Nobody had any interest in watching Egypt play at the World Cup even at the start of 2017, but due to his heroics at Liverpool over the past year, Mohamed Salah's Pharaohs garnered a legion of supporters, Reds and otherwise.

Similarly, fans of every club are rooting for their players -- be it Tottenham fans cheering on South Korea's Son Heung-Min or a non-Argentine Manchester United fan quietly clapping on Marcos Rojo's sublime winner against Nigeria.

As has become a trend over the past few years, painfully so for fans of other clubs, Real Madrid are still towering above the rest. It is not an easy job to translate club form onto the international stage -- just ask Juventus and Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain or Liverpool and Senegal's Sadio Mane.

However, Real Madrid's consecutive three-time Champions League winners have not only racked up the most goals at this year's tournament so far by netting nine times, they have also been crucial to their team's success.

Toni Kroos fired that missile to give Germany a win and a lifeline over Sweden, although it proved ultimately fruitless. Luka Modric dominated Argentina with a masterclass in midfield and Isco has been conducting the Spanish orchestra in virtuoso fashion, while Cristiano Ronaldo has fired Portugal into the round of 16 with four goals, including a hattrick against Spain.

Barcelona are again second-best with eight goals. Philippe Coutinho, who has been running the show for Brazil, his international teammate Paulinho and Uruguay's Luis Suarez have all scored twice, while Colombia's Yerry Mina, Argentina's Lionel Messi and Croatia's Ivan Rakitic have netted once.

Tottenham Hotspur are level with Barca on eight goals, with five coming from local superstar Harry Kane for England and Son adding two while another came from Denmark's Christian Eriksen.

Manchester United have the next-best return with six goals -- four of those from Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku -- followed by Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain on five goals. Villarreal, boosted by Russia's Denis Cheryshev's three strikes, are behind on four. Incredibly, not a single Bayern Munich player has found the back of the net.

Overall, England's Premier League stalwarts have netted 32 times, players from Spanish clubs have scored 29 goals, Germany's Bundesliga stars nine, France's Ligue 1 players seven and Italy's Serie A men six each while even a player from Guatemala's top flight -- Panama's Felipe Baloy -- has netted once.

The World Cup is undoubtedly 'the' trophy in football but beyond the tournament and immortalisation of the winners, its impact is at the club level. The next time any team can truly bring up their World Cup champions status will be either at the 2020 Euros,    the 2019 Copa America or, more improbably, the Africa Cup of Nations next year or the AFC Asian Cup in 2019.

However, clubs will be able to lord their players' performances over their rivals for the coming four years, until Qatar brings more stories, drama and stars to the fold.

There will also be a short-lived buzz after the World Cup during the final days of the transfer window, when clubs aim to capture the next James Rodriguez or Paul Pogba; breakout stars in Brazil in 2014. The path to superstardom is not easy but it is one that players such as Mexico's Hirving Lozano and France's Kylian Mbappe, already on the verge, will be hoping to walk through their performances at the World Cup.

After all, the World Cup may end on July 16 but as it currently stands, Real Madrid fans, with their already firing stars and their board's penchant for snapping up the World Cup's standout player, will be hoping to secure bragging rights for at least a couple of years.

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