Saturday, June 7, 2014

World Cup 2014: Eight Football Players to Watch Out

It’s exactly 1 week away from the much anticipated World Cup 2014! Let me hear your screams!! In partnership with BRAND’S®, I will be bringing some info for all of you in the coming crazy 25 days of soccer fun and madness. So to kick start this mini-series, I will start by sharing some of my personal favorites for WC14.

1. LIONEL MESSI (Argentina)
Forward – 84 Caps – 37 International Goals – 26 Years Old – 169cm – FC Barcelona

Blessed with eagle-eyed vision, sublime technique and lightning acceleration, the left-footed wizard patrols the area in and around the box, detecting defensive chinks that are invisible to mere mortals. His gift for shifting through the gears, skipping past opponents and finding the back of the net, both from open play and dead-ball situations, has brought Lionel Messi many goals that is easier to list the records he has yet to break than the ones he has.

Four time World Player of the Year, he is definitely my personal favorite this WC14. It is time for Argentina to win the biggest cup in football arena and it is time for Lionel Messi to be elevated to the status of Maradona and Pele.

2. CRISTIANO RONALDO (Portugal)
Forward – 110 Caps – 49 International Goals – 29 Years Old – 185cm – Real Madrid CF

Two time FIFA Player of the Year awards, the Portuguese superstar has broken almost every record there is in football. Currently the leading record goalscorer for Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo is the complete package. This WC14 will be his 3rd appearance together with Ricardo Costa.

From looks to skills, he is worth every penny the advertisers are heaping on him. Perhaps there is nothing much for him to prove except for this elusive world cup glory. Still the record holder for highest transfer fee paid in football history when he switched from Manchester United to Real Madrid CF in 2009/10. You will miss the highlights of WC14 if you miss CR playing this year.

3. NEYMAR (Brazil)
Forward – 48 Caps – 31 International Goals – 22 Years Old – 175cm – FC Barcelona

His small frame masks incredible skill and speed, silencing doubters with his top-class ability to finish off on both legs. Only at a tender age of 22, Neymar is not new on the international scene, drawing comparison to former Brazil legend Pele.

If Brazil goes through to the finals, I can safely bet that Neymar will be the name on everyone’s lips. This WC14 could be the stage for him to finally once and for all, cement his name as one of the best footballers in the world.

4. MESUT OZIL (Germany)
Midfielder – 54 Caps – 17 International Goals – 25 Years Old – 180cm – Arsenal FC

Don’t let his shy and reserved character away from the pitch deceive you. Once Mesut Ozil is on the field, he brings along an explosive character with his technique, intelligence and ability to bring the ball under control even when running at top speed. He has a clinical eye for goal and can carve open opposition defenses with inch-perfect passes too.

A perfect role-model of “let football talk its own”. Mesut Ozil gives me the impression that he is not fazed by the attention of being a superstar footballer, he is not looking for world fame, he is just concern of his performance on the pitch and gives his 100% to ensure either his club or country gets the best out of him. A true precision German machine, his defenses splitting passes will be something everyone should watch out for in this WC14.

5. ANDRES INIESTA (Spain)
Midfielder – 96 Caps – 12 International Goals – 30 Years Old – 170cm – FC Barcelona

Scorer of the goal that clinched Spain’s first world crown in 2010, Andres Iniesta’s status as a national hero was immediately set in stone. Often hailed as the most complete player in the national team, he is known for his passing, dribbling, vision and movement.

Some may say Spain is an aging team, but the beauty of Spanish football is the ability to unearth gems in the youths. Personally, I feel Spain is one of the most balanced team with experience and youths. Definitely a team to watch out for this WC14. And Andres Iniesta will surely be the key person gel-ing the old and the new, in hope of producing yet another winning team.

6. LUIS SUAREZ (Uruguay)
Forward – 77 Caps – 39 International Goals – 27 Years Old – 181cm – Liverpool FC

An opportunistic, predatory finisher with a competitive, not to say fiery streak, Luis Suarez has established himself as one of the world’s most fearsome striker. Infamous for his “hand of god” during the last world cup against Ghana, Luis as gone on to be voted as last season’s Barclay’s Premier League Player of the Season award, Premier League Golden Boot, European Golden Shoe and also ranked number one on Europe’s most influential player list.

No doubt about it, personally I think Luis Suarez is the best striker now. Liverpool’s season was revived due to his never-give-up attitude. The ability to keep his form in club level to the international level will be key to how far Uruguay will progress in this WC14.

Luis Suarez

7. STEVEN GERRARD (England)
Midfielder – 110 Caps – 21 International Goals – 34 Years Old – 185cm – Liverpool FC

Captain for both club and country, Stevie is definitely the man that will push England forward, probably one last time. With more than 100 caps for his country, he is a dynamic driving presence in midfield, England will look to the captain to once again lead them to glory.

As a Liverpool fan, I have every reason to support England especially almost half of the team is from my favorite LFC. But logic tells me, they have the drive and passion, but skills wise, probably England is only good enough for last 8.

8. MARIO BALOTELLI (Italy)
Forward – 29 Caps – 12 International Goals – 23 Years Old – 189cm – AC Milan

An explosive striker, not a stranger for attracting the wrong kind of headlines, Mario Balotelli is probably going to be the one Italy fans will be looking forward to, when they need a player who can come on and change the course of the game. Gifted with sublime skills on the ball and also a strong physic, he is also very effective from set-pieces.

Personally, I think Italy may sneak into the last 4 in this WC14, but hugely depending on whether can they keep their influential striker on the field and in control.

So there you have it, IMHO the 8 teams I would like to see in this World Cup 2014.

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