13 Superstars of the 2014 World Cup
I am writing this blog a day before the FIFA World Cup 2014 kicks-off in Brazil. The biggest soccer tournament in the world is now upon us and I for one can’t wait for it. Now I have been thinking of writing on the players that I think will shine during the tournament for quite some time but decided to delay it till the last moment. Why? Because I wanted to wait in case there were any injuries to report and guess what? That is exactly what happened.
The likes of Marco Reus, Radamel Falcao, Franck Ribery, Theo Walcott, Riccardo Montolivo, Thiago Alcantara, Victor Valdes, Niko Kranjcar and Kevin Strootman are just some of the players who will be missing the showpiece event. Yes, it has been that kind of a year.
Now that we know the players who are fit, let’s get down to business and see who makes the cut on our list of the best players in the World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo racked up a record seventeen goals in the Champions League and thirty one goals in the La Liga. Real Madrid won their tenth European Cup and the Copa del Rey with the Portuguese captain at the heart of that double triumph. Oh and he won the Ballon d’Or as well which officially makes him the best player in the world. And he’s going out with someone called Irina Shayk. Love him or hate him, you just cannot ignore him.
The little genius from Argentina, Lionel Messi will be looking to win the World Cup on enemy territory. Messi is the only player in soccer history to have won four Ballon d’Ors. Twenty eight goals in thirty one La Liga games with another eight in the Champions League might be considered pretty good going for most players in the world but not Messi. This is how far he has set the bar. It was a disappointing trophy less campaign for him and Barcelona, but the World Cup gives him a chance to rank alongside Diego Maradona as the best player Argentina has ever produced.
Neymar is the latest soccer sensation to come out of the Samba Nation. The young Brazilian will have the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders as he looks to be the catalyst for his country’s sixth triumph in the biggest tournament that the sport has to offer. He had a decent enough first season as a Barcelona player but this is the tournament where he will get the chance to shine on the biggest stage of them all. The World Cup’s poster boy looks ready for what will be the biggest test of his young career to date.
Chile is being considered by many as the real surprise package in the World Cup. They have quite a team and the man that stands out from the rest is their midfielder Arturo Vidal. The 27 year old Juventus man is one of the most coveted and accoplished midfield enforcers in the game today. He has been an integral part of the Juventus machine that has won three successive league titles. There is a reason why clubs like Manchester United are reportedly showing interest in him. If Vidal has a good World Cup, then Juventus will have a fight on their hands to keep him at the club.
Yaya Toure is the complete midfielder. He can defend, he can attack and he can score goals from all corners of the pitch. In full flight, the Ivory Coast powerhouse is like a freight train running at full speed. Toure is one of the best players in the world and he was once again instrumental in leading Manchester City to their second league title in three seasons. He scored twenty goals, created forty chances and his average pass accuracy was an incredible ninety percent. As I am writing this, Toure is struggling to get fit for his country’s opening game against Japan. If he recovers in time, then good luck Japan, because you are going to need it.
The Architect, the maestro, the guy with the coolest beard in soccer and with an attitude to match, Andrea Pirlo is in a league of his own. The Italy and Juventus playmaker is a genius; there is no other way to describe what he does on a soccer pitch. The 35 year old has won two Champions Leagues, five league titles and a World Cup. Pirlo was also instrumental in guiding Italy to the final of the Euro 2012 when no one gave them a chance to do anything of note in that tournament. Italy is one of the favorites to win the World Cup and Pirlo is the man they will turn to.
7-Robin Van Persie
Robin Van Persie will lead Netherlands in Brazil as not only the captain of the team but their most potent striker as well. After guiding Manchester United to their twentieth league title in 2013, the Dutch captain didn’t have the best of seasons this time around. A lot of that was down to injuries. He took part in twenty one games for the club in the league and played ninety minutes in only ten of those encounters. He still managed to score twelve goals. In the Champions League he put the ball in the back of the net on four occasions in six games. He is now 31 so this might be the last chance for Van Persie to shine at the biggest international stage of them all.
For me Andres Iniesta is the man who will need to be at his best if Spain is to successfully defend their World Cup crown. The Barcelona midfielder is as complete a player as you can get. He can play on the wing, he can play in the middle both as a deep playmaker or just off the striker. He can dribble and he can score. He scored the goal that won Spain the World Cup four years ago in South Africa. Barcelona went trophy less this season but Iniesta still showed how good a player he really is. He passing accuracy was ninety one percent in the league and ninety percent in the Champions League. He will have to be the orchestrator once again if Spain is to take control of the midfield and the tournament in Brazil.
Bastian Schweinsteiger has literally been Germany’s man in the middle. Coming of the back of a successful season with his club, but one that was hampered by injury, Schweinsteiger knows this is his best chance to win the World Cup. He is now 29 years old so the next World Cup might just be just be out his reach. He has been one of the first names on the German team sheet since making his debut in 2004. He has a colossal presence in the middle of the park, the guy who glues the German machine together. Schweinsteiger is a complete package and I will not be surprised if he delivers Germany their first World Cup since 1990.
Now we come to the enigma that is Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United striker was the club’s best player this season in a campaign that was nothing short of a nightmare. He played thirty eight games for his club in the league and the Champions League and scored nineteen goals in total. That is a goal every two games. However, his record for England in the World Cup is nothing short of abysmal. In 2002 and 2006 he failed to score even once. In fact the only major international tournament where he has performed was Euro 2004. He has talent; you don’t play for Manchester United for so long without having nay talent, but he needs to now step up to the plate in the World Cup. A nation awaits Mr. Rooney, it’s time.
A nation held its breath when the Uruguayan Luis Suarez was declared unfit just a few weeks before the World Cup. His knee needed a little cleaning up so he went under the knife and the good news is that he has started training once again. So Uruguay fans can breathe a little easy. Suarez was exceptional for Liverpool this season as they came agonizingly close to winning their first league title in twenty four years. In thirty three appearances in the league he scored an astonishing thirty one goals and created a whopping eighty seven chances. He can play in any position upfront and his versatility and exceptional technical ability makes him one of the best strikers in the world today. These are stats of a player who is in the form of his life. There are rumors that European Champions Real Madrid will make a move for him after the World Cup and if he fires then they might not be the only ones coming for him.
Luka Modric for me is one of the most underrated players in the game today. The former Tottenham man was at his best this season for Real Madrid. Players like Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria might have hogged all the limelight in a campaign that saw the Spanish giants win the Copa del Rey and their tenth European Cup, but Modric was the man who ran the show for them for the most part of the season. The Croatian dynamo delivered the 93rd minute cross for Sergio Ramos to equalize in the Champions League final. He played thirty four games for Madrid in the La Liga and completed ninety percent of his passes. He also created fifty chances. In Europe, Modric played eleven games and created seventeen chances. His pass accuracy in the Champions League? Ninety two percent. He is a special player and he will show that in the World Cup. That might get him the recognition he deserves.
Belgium will be one of the teams to look out for in the World Cup as they boast one of the most talented squads in the tournament. There are so many players in that team but my pick of the bunch is the Chelsea man Eden Hazard. He joined the London club in 2012 and has been their most consistent player. In thirty five league games this season, the 23 year old scored fourteen goals. He made nine appearances in the Champions League and found the net twice. Regarded as one of the best young players in the world, he has attributes to rank him among the best in a few years time. He can play through the middle as an attacking midfielder and on the wing. Combine that with his close ball control and dribbling skills, and you have a player to watch out for in the tournament.
This is my list of the best players playing in the World Cup in no special order. These are all special talents and will set the tournament all the more interesting with their talent. If you have anything to say about this, be my guest.
Note: All stats taken from squawka.com