The worlds greatest sporting extravaganza is just around the corner and with barely two months to go, the air is filled with excitement. The 32 of the world’s best nations clash as they hope to find the best of the lot as another one of the FIFA World Cup comes to an end.
All the nations and their coaches will now be busy chalking up their potential 23 men who would form their core and also the people who might just make the difference for them. Let us now look at 15 players to look out for.
Well, normally one would’ve done a list. But I’ve decided that I’d do a team consisting of the eleven players who I think would make the greatest impact at their first FIFA World Cup. Also, I would include a few names who couldn’t make the list to various reasons.
Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
With a wealth of experience under his belt at Vicente Caledron, Thibaut Courtois has evolved into one of the world’s best. His recent performances against arch rivals Catalonian side Barcelona showed his true colours as he time and again denied Barcelona and their quest to reach yet another semi final in the Champions League and showed the world why he is indeed one of the best in the business.
Courtois has been tremendous this season with Athletico Madrid thereby helping them reach the top in a league consisting the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid. His maturity at such a young age is something not many goalkeepers have and he is now a vital cog at both club Athletico Madrid and country Belgium.
Luke Shaw (England)
One of the rising stars in the Premier League, Luke Shaw has improved by leaps and bounds under club manager Marucio Pochettino at Southampton. Shaw has prospered at Southampton, a club known for producing quality players. His crosses have been very accurate this season. His speed is something that not many possess. His defensive abilities are not bad either. The left back position in England is at crossroads at the moment with regular, Ashley Cole more or less benched by his club, Chelsea and Leighton Baines not having one of the most consistent this season. Looking at all these problems England are facing, Luke Shaw would be the perfect fit for them.
Cesar Azpelicueta (Spain)
Although generally used as a left back by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Cesar Azpelicueta is one of the few who can play both at the right and as well as the left side of the pitch. Azpelicueta has been extremely consistent this season that he has displaced regular Ashley Cole off the perch at the left back position. He has excellent pace and crossing abilities. He is extremely effective on the break due to his naturally attacking abilities. He has been one of the key factors for Chelsea’s success this season as he has been technically very sound while defending.
Raphael Varane (France)
Playing at the Santiago Bernabeu is something not many have able to achieve. This man on the other hand has certainly been the find of the season for the Los Blancos. Speed, very sound and what more, Raphael Varane has kept seasoned attackers at bay with his flawless defensive abilities. Rarely giving the ball away, Varane has been key to Madrid’s success this season. He is often compared to influential and legendary captain Fernando Hierro and to be compared with such a great player at such a young age is something Varane should be proud off. Frank Lebouef went on to say that Varane would turn out to be better than Hierro as he is much stronger and faster. I don’t need to say more about this young wonder, do I?
Phil Jones (England)
Phil Jones has been a revelation at Manchester United this season. He has been one of the few bright spots in David William Moyes’ short but disastrous rein as United’s manager. Jones is extremely strong and has been very good while heading. One of his best performances was against Olympiakos when United sensationally turned off a 3 goal deficit and Jones was one of the architects of that win as he time and time again cleared the ball off his own box. He is a very versatile player as he can play as a Central Defender, a full back, a holding midfielder or even as a winger. These qualities clearly show why he should play at the heart of the defence for the Three Lions this World Cup.
Paul Pogba (France)
Juventus have undoubtedly been the best team in the Seria A this season and Paul Pogba has been instrumental in their success. One of the best holding midfielders in the world, Pogba has shone under Antonio Conte. His passing ability in his own half is unmatched and his cool head at critical situations while defending is something he should be proud of. Released by Manchester United, he has revelled at the Old Lady as he has easily adapted in to the mix of things while attacking and defending. He was described by the United faithful as powerful,creative and skilful and as a player who has a penchant for the spectacular. He also received the Golden Boy award in the under-21 World Cup in 2013 for the best young player in Europe.
Central Attacking Midfielder:
Eden Hazard (Belgium)
He dribbles. He shoots. He scores and what more. Eden Hazard has been the player of the season so far in the English Premier League. Leave alone his attacking abilities, he drops back down deep to defend. He runs and runs, never worrying about the effect called tiredness. He has bamboozled many a defender this year and on his day he is a nightmare for even the best in the world. He has catapulted Chelsea in to the race for the title with his phenomenal performances. He is part of the golden generation of Belgium and it would be no surprise if he continues in this vein in the World Cup and he helps them capture the title.
Right Attacking Midfielder:
James Rodriguez (Columbia)
James rodriguez is a Colombian born left winger. He made his move to AS Monaco last summer transfer season along with super stars Joao Moutinho and Radamel Falcao. He is just 22 but he has shown tremendous skill and energy on the pitch. This season he has picked out 11 assists and scored 9 goals for his club in 31 appearances. He combines well with International and club team mate Radamel Falcao and let’s hope he does the same this World Cup for his nation. Colombia might not be one of the best or one of the most supported football nations around the world but things might change this time around as Rodriguez might prove to be the deciding factor for his nation alongside talismanic striker Radamel Falcao.
Left Attacking Midfielder:
Raheem Sterling (England)
Pace. More Pace. Even more pace. Well, that’s Raheem Sterling for you. While last season was not the best for him as personal issues made him make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, this time around though he has made the tabloids go gaga over him due to his stupendous season that he has had. Often being mistaken due to his height, he has proved all his detractors wrong after having a stellar season at Merseyside. His goal against Manchester City put to rest what all critics and spoken about him. He has revelled alongside Brendan Rodgers and on his day he can torment any full back in the world with his bag of tricks. And he is an effective goal scorer who can crowd up the ball while attacking and believe me, there is no better counter attacker than Raheem Sterling in the EPL at the moment.
Diego Costa (Spain)
Diego Costa has been in sublime form this season for his club Athletico Madrid. Creativity, speed and the ability to strike the ball with great power has made him a potent force this season. Chelsea have been lurking to sign this goal scoring machine but repeated efforts have failed due to his loyalty towards Athletico. He has proved time and again why is by far the best striker for Spain this summer and playing at Europe this season has taken him to a whole new level althogether. Although not very tall in stature, he shouldn’t be taken in lightly as even the smallest of mistakes might result in a goal against this player.
Neymar Jr. (Brazil)
Although notorious for his dives, Neymar Jr. has certainly captivated the hearts of the all the Brazilians with his skill and control with the football. The Selecao have been lacking an X-Factor for the past couple of years and Neymar could easily be the difference from a ‘good’ team to an ‘excellent’ team. His crosses generally find the designated player and he more or less is the main player for Brazil at this World Cup. On his day he can dissect defences with his nimble-footed tricks and runs but he can also change the tide of the game by going down far too easily and acting or as they say- diving. He was the person who won them the Confederations Cup and if Brazil were to have any chance, all their hopes would ride on this young phenomenon.
Things Alcantara (Spain), Marco Reus (Germany), Javier Pastore (Argentina), Lucas Moura (Brazil), Xerdan Shaqiri (Switzerland), Julian Draxler (Germany), Mario Goetze (Germany), Jodi Alba (Spain), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Isco (Spain), Kevin Mirallas (Belgium), Daniel Sturridge (England), Dante (Brazil), Alvaro Negredo (Spain), Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)
Last time it was Thomas Muller. But this time?Who? Who would be the best debutant? Well I have given my bets on who would be the best this time around I guess it’s your turn to decide as to who would be the best debutants of the FIFA World Cup this time around and until then just sit back and wait until another of the FIFA World Cup dawns upon us.