All eyes are on Russia for the 2018 World Cup.
Soccer fan or not, this tournament is one of the most intriguing in the world. Few events like this bring people together from countless countries spread over the entire globe.
Sadly, the United States is not represented in this year's’ tournament. While it is disappointing to fail to qualify for the World Cup, American sports fans will always be able to look forward to the NFL.
So, how does the World Cup compare to the NFL, and specifically the Bengals? Which Bengals have counterparts playing in Russia as we speak?
Here we’ll take a look at which Bengals players compare to which players in the World Cup from the perennially dominant Cristiano Ronaldo to the emergence of Mohamed Salah.
A.J. Green: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
This one is easy, since they are the most dominant figures in for their teams in recent memories. It seems like both have been around forever and that they will stick around for a while yet.
While Green is on his way to a Hall of Fame career, the same is undoubtedly true of Ronaldo. If the Bengals need something to happen on offense, they pass to Green. Likewise, Ronaldo was so integral to Portugal’s offense in their 3-3 draw with Spain that he scored all three of his team’s goals.
If either of these players can get the help they need from their teammates, they will finally get to lift the trophy, the only achievement that these two have not accomplished yet.
Andy Dalton: Christian Eriksen, Denmark
Dalton runs the Bengals’ offense the way the Eriksen runs the Danes’. NFL offenses are built around quarterbacks much like Denmark’s team is built around their midfielder. Just like Dalton calls plays and directs traffic, so will Eriksen during his team’s World Cup run.
Eriksen’s performance on the Danish team will dictate how far the team will make it this year. Just like with any NFL quarterback, if the passer is off then the whole team suffers. Likewise, if the quarterback is hot, then the offense is going to put up a lot of points.
Geno Atkins: Lionel Messi, Argentina
Even though Atkins could eat Messi for breakfast, these two men are both undersized compared to their competitors. Messi is only 5’7”, yet is one of the most commanding players in the world. Atkins is a whopping 6’1” and 310 lbs, which is still enormous compared to Messi—or even the average human—but is on the smaller side of NFL defensive tackles.
Without size to help them, both of these players use finesse to turn them into wrecking balls. If Messi wills to score, there is no one that can stop him. Similarly, Atkins uses his balance, hand placement, and body position to beat linemen that are far bigger than he is.
Both for Argentina’s offense and the Bengals defense, having these two up front gives their team an edge that their replacements just can’t provide.
Carlos Dunlap: David De Gea, Spain
These long-armed competitors are some of the best in the business at keeping the ball away from their goal lines. Dunlap is not far removed from back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, while De Gea is coming off of a Gold Glove season with Manchester United. It is difficult to get past these two as they will keep trying to hold opposing offenses scoreless.
Joe Mixon: Paul Pogba, France
There is just a certain dynamic ability that scouts look for in players that coaches can’t teach. Either you have it, or you don’t. Both Mixon and Pogba have it.
Even though Mixon struggled early his rookie year, the Bengals eventually found ways for him to get the ball in space. There is no better way to spark a slowing offense than to hand it off to Mixon.
Likewise, when Pogba is given the freedom to play around and make things happen, France is in a good position to strike. These two are so immensely talented and cause headaches to defenses that are trying to slow them down.
William Jackson: Mohamed Salah, Egypt
Both have just come on to the scene this year, but they have proved that they are some of the best at their positions.
Jackson has followed up his spectacular first full season with nothing but praise from teammates and coaches alike. Meanwhile, Salah has turned his career around and is now a household name in England, where he plays for Liverpool, and in his home country.
If Egypt has any hope of advancing out of the group stages, they will look to Salah. If the Bengals are going to see their defense improve in 2018, then Jackson is their guy.
It was a shame that Jackson wasn’t on the Pro Bowl ballot last year, so fans were forced to write him in. Salah was just in a similar situation, though instead of the All-Star game, he received enough write-in votes to be the runner-up in the Egyptian presidential election.
Tyler Eifert: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden
Both are tall, offensive players who have good taste in hair. Both create mismatches near the goal line with their size, and their teams will have to look to them to create scoring opportunities in clutch moments.
Wait...Ibrahimovic isn’t playing? Well, this is awkward.
Do you agree with this list? Let us know in the comments!