WC Countdown: Eight days to go!

With just nine days remaining before the global showpiece begins, our three featured number 8 midfield generals are as followed.

1. Cheikhou Kouyaté

Position: Midfield

Nationality: Senegal

Age: 28

The current Senegalese captain has been an ever-present figure for the African side since making his debut in 2012, amassing 47 caps since then.

Standing at 1.92m tall, the powerful midfielder has the capabilities to drive the Teranga Lions forward as a box-to-box option or as an anchor in front of the back-four.

While star forward's Keita Balde and Sadio Mane will receive most of the headlines, Kouyaté will be a dominating presence in Group H against less physically imposing side's Poland, Japan and Colombia.

2. Toni Kroos

Position: Midfield

Nationality: Germany

Age: 28

Arguably one of the finest deep-lying playmakers in world football, the Real Madrid man has 19 major titles to his name at club level and was a major part of Germany's 2014 World Cup success.

The incredible passing range, anticipation and ability to dictate the tempo of the game make Kroos one of Joachim Low's first name on the teamsheet and his record of 12 goals and 15 assists in 82 caps makes for impressive reading.

While his vision remains one of his key strenghts, his eye for goal and ability to shoot with either foot makes him a world-class footballer.

3. João Moutinho

Position: Midfield

Nationality: Portugal

Age: 31

Moutinho has represented Portugal at three European Championships and two World Cups, which includes their first ever international triumph at Euro 16.

A vastly experienced and tenacious midfielder with 109 caps to his name, Moutinho is one of the more underrated international superstars that will compete in Russia this month.

Having made his debut as a teenager in 2005, his consistency at the highest level has been admirable, while his versatility of being able to play anywhere in midfield makes him an invaluable asset for head coach Fernando Santos.

READ: World Cup Countdown: 11 days to go!

READ: World Cup Countdown: 10 days to go!

READ: World Cup Countdown: 9 days to go!