“It’s not about the name on the back of the jersey, it’s about the badge in the front.”–David Beckham.
Beckham’s quote can be one liner definition for FIFA World Cup ’14, as June 13 onwards, the world will come together to experience exhilarating, titillating, tense and dramatic 90 minutes of football, in the fight to get hold of the World Cup.
Amidst all the addling news, player injuries and rumors, HT brings you the list of 10 players for whom the fans have been praying relentlessly and against whom the national team managers have their expectations lined up.
1. Neymar Jr.
This 22-year-old Brazilian forward/winger has already proven his mettle by playing for FC Barcelona and is a possible threat to the opponents.
Known for his agility and exemplary dribbling skills, Neymar is the person any striker would want by his side to assist him with unbelievable crosses and clear overhead shots. Luiz Scolari, Brazil’s manager is looking forward to his first game against Croatia on 13th June.
2. Lionel Messi
With the landmark achievement of claiming four consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Ors (2009-2012), Lionel Messi is the undisputed leader of the Argentina national team and a multiple- trophy winner with Barcelona. Argentina hopes to end their 28-year-long nemesis under the able guidance of Alejandro Sabella and the captaincy of this 26-year-old forward.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
The Ballon d’Or title holder for 2013 and sole reason for Real Madrid’s win in Champion’s League finals stands alone in the 11-man squad of Portugal to make the struggle realise its worth in this year’s World Cup. Right now, he might be suffering from left knee tendinitis, making him unavailable from the playing XI, but the fans continue to pray and hope to see CR7 on the greens.
4. Manuel Neuer
German keeper Manuel Neuer is the undisputed No.1(many experts believe he is the real deal) equipped not only to follow in the footsteps of Oliver Kahn and Jens Lehmann, but also to develop into one of the best in the world. If you are not from a Germany fan club, you will find yourself praying more to keep him out of the ground, keeping in mind his recent shoulder injury.
5. Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney remains England’s greatest talent and his seven goals in six World Cup qualifying starts underlined his importance to Roy Hodgson’s side. England and Manchester United fans look forward to Hodgson’s managing abilities to bolster England’s attack using their trump card Rooney.
6. Luis Suarez
Liverpool man Luis Suarez ended the South American preliminaries, for Uruguay, as the leading scorer with 11 goals, and was the second most-used player by Coach Oscar Tabarez. Under the light of his recent injury in Montevideo, Luis must’ve missed Uruguay’s first two World Cup warm-up matches, but seeing the speedy recovery, the fans can expect to see Suarez against Costa Rica on June 14 in the best of his forms.
7. David Villa
The all-time leading marksman in the history of the Spanish senior side, Villa is equally adept at playing as an out-an-out centre-forward, on the left of a front three or in a more withdrawn striking role. The Spanish player has proved his worth to the star-studded team in the year 2010.This year in Brazil, the defending champions under the tutelage of Del Bosque Vicente can blindly depend on Villa to perform to the best of his abilities.
8. Mesut Ozil
Former Real Madrid starlet Mesut Ozil, who now laces his boots at Arsenal, was just 21 when he thrilled the crowds at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. His technique, intelligence and ability to bring the ball under control even while running at top speed have made him one of the most feared attacking midfielders in the world. Germany fans can depend upon Joachim Low’s managing abilities to extract the best out of this starlet midfielder.
9. Paul Pogba
Falling in the list of Didier Deschamps’s (Juventus club manager) most trusted lieutenants, this 21-year-old young player has earned his fame in Juventus, and now awaits his chance to prove his fortitude on June 15, as he laces up against Honduras. His clinical finish, agility, high end curves and a sharp eye for clear passes have already raced him up the France fan page.
10. Robin Van Persie
No-one has scored more goals for the Netherlands than Robin van Persie. With a whooping total of 43 international goals, the Manchester United star has certainly improved steadily with age, maturing from the raw but talented winger first seen at Feyenoord into one of the world’s most accomplished centre-forwards. Though a team of underdogs, Netherlands packages world class players like Huntelaar, Tim Krul, Robben and Persie. June 13 will finally show team manager Van Gaal’s work on the ballistic properties of Persie as they play against Spain.