Blog by: Akshay
As the days go by, every football fan has a reason to be excited. The 2014 World Cup is nearing and after four years, we will see teams from all over the world battle it out for the most prestigious tournament in the history of sport. There’s more than one reason to be excited about the 2014 World Cup. Football is returning to its colossal home, as Brazil prepares itself to host yet another sporting extravaganza.
The last time a World Cup match was played in Brazil, it left everyone around the world shocked. Uruguay defeated Brazil 2-1 in the final at the legendary Maracana. The Brazilians were left in despair. They had lost to perennial rivals Uruguay in front of 200,000 fans in what is known as one of the greatest matches ever witnessed.
As much as that would affect the Selecao, eight years later they won the tournament in style, leaving every team in awe of their breath-taking display of the beautiful game. That World Cup saw the birth of a new star, one who would go on to become the greatest player ever produced by Brazil; but that was not where it stopped.
They won four World Cups after that, the most recent being in 2002 when their attacking trio of Ronaldinho, Romario and Ronaldo portrayed the perfect way to play the beautiful game.
As we near the world’s largest sporting event, let’s take a look at the top débutantes who could set the stage alight on the biggest stage on them all.
Marco Reus (left) of Borussia Dortmund avoids the challenge of Philipp Lahm of Bayern Muenchen during the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Often across social networking sites you would find a picture saying, “ No matter which club you support, you can’t hate Marco Reus”. Well, true to its word, you can’t hate him can you? The incredible Marco Reus is one of the biggest names set to make his debut at the 2014 World Cup. Having set the footballing fraternity alight with his incredible performances for the past two years at Signal Iduna Park, he is set to make his mark at the international stage.
His greatest strength is his remarkable ability to get past players and leave them gasping for breath. His nimble-footed tricks and bursts of pace leave the crowd wanting for more. Added to this, his uncanny ability to be in the right position at the right time has helped him increase his goals tally. He is slowly cementing his spot in Joachim Loew’s team.
He has already made the left wing his own at Dortmund, and it should only be a matter of time before he does it in the national team. He is one of the most exciting players to watch and is definitely going to run the show in Brazil next year.
Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard (R) runs with the ball pursued by Everton’s Scottish striker Steven Naismith (2R) during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park in Liverpool, northwest England on September 14, 2013. (PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
It is not for every 21-year old that three of the top clubs in England keep chasing him. However, it was the case for Eden Hazard, who had to choose between moving to the Etihad, Old Trafford and Stamford bridge. He did choose the latter and what a move it has turned out to be. From winning man of the match awards in his first four games to winning the Europa League and getting nominated for the PFA Player of the Award, it has been a stellar run for Eden Hazard.
Of all the players in Begium’s golden generation, Hazard is truly the best. Having moved to Chelsea for £32 million, he was one of the stand-out performers for Chelsea last season and is continuing the run this season. He may not seem as daunting as the center forwards, but his feet do the talking every time. His acceleration has been compared to that of Ronaldo, his dribbling skill likened to Messi’s, and his finishing is brilliant.
Just like Marco Reus, he can leave defenders chasing shadows and has a knack of popping in at the right position to chip in with his fair share of goals. He will be another debutant to watch out at the World Cup, where he can prove his mettle on the biggest stage.
Paul Pogba of Juventu shows his dejection during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Juventus FC at San Siro Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Till a year ago, he was known as the man who left to Juventus after a feud with Sir Alex. Today he is known as one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe. The transition wasn’t easy or smooth by any stretch of imagination. After failing to see enough first-team football at Old Trafford, he sealed a move to Turin, where not many expected him to rise to this level. Breaking into a midfield containing Vidal, Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo is by no means an easy task.
But Pogba did and managed more than 30 appearances for the Old Lady. He showed flashes of his brilliance against Bologna, where he scored the winning goal and against Napoli. He has what it takes to perform at the highest level, but Ferguson never saw it. For a defensive midfielder, he has a high scoring rate and has already scored a goal for France in just three appearances.
He is already a world-class player and there is room for further improvement. With a year to go, he is sure to cement his spot in the Les Bleus line-up. The 2014 World Cup may be the place where he shows the world his ability
Neymar Da Silva
Neymar of FC Barcelona duels for the ball with Jorge Andujar Moreno ‘Coke’ of Sevilla FC during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Camp Nou on September 14, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
At 18 years of age, he was touted to be the next ‘Pele’. He was recognised by Pele himself as an excellent player. At 19 years, he won the South American Footballer of the Year 2011 and was nominated for the Ballon d’or for the next two years.
He won the Puskas award in 2012 for a brilliant goal for Santos. A move to Europe was always on the cards, and it did happen this summer when he moved to Camp Nou after a staggering £57 million transfer. All through his younger days he was often regarded as a ‘YouTube star’, who just show-boated every time he stepped on the pitch.
But he put all those doubts to bed in the Confederations Cup in Brazil this summer. Having started every match in the tournament, he virtually carried the team on his shoulders and won the Cup for Brazil. He was brilliant throughout, scoring four goals and assisting one more. Known for his acceleration, vision, passing and above all, his dribbling skills, he won the Golden Ball award at the Confederations Cup.
Soon enough, he sealed a move to Barcelona, and will relish the opportunity of playing alongside the world’s best players. His dribbling and close control does remind you of a certain Ronaldinho tearing through Spanish defences in a Barcelona shirt. Brazil 2014 may just be the time when he takes on the world and brings himself to the level of Ronaldo and Messi. This time he will be playing the World Cup in his home, and it is time Brazil unleash their new star.
AC Milan’s Italian forward Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match Torino Vs AC Milan on September 14, 2013 at the Olympic Stadium in Turin. (MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Who else but him? The man who until recently was more famous for his off-field antics rather than his brilliance on the pitch. Burning down his own house, arguing with a police officer, driving into a women’s prison to have a look around, throwing darts at a youth team player – these are a few of the strange things that Mario Balotelli has done.
However, leave all this out and his footballing performances still left a question to be asked. His discipline? Making rash tackles, fighting with his own team mate over a free-kick, and being called ‘ unmanageable’ by Jose Mourinho; all this was two years ago. Since then, he has become one of the best young strikers in the world. While everyone, remembers Aguero’s goal in the 94th minute of the final game in the 2011-2012 EPL season, it was this fellow who provided the assist for it after being brought down.
That very season, he was nominated for the Ballon d’or, but his Euro 2012 performances were the most eye-catching . He scored a brace against Manuel Neuer in the semifinal, of which the first goal was called extra-ordinary. He unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside the box, which was even applauded by Manuel Neuer himself, who was left clueless.
An agile and powerful player, he is often nicknamed ‘Super Mario’ due to his pace, acceleration and ability to fend off defenders. He is a set-piece specialist and till date has a perfect record of never missing a penalty in his professional career.
In last season’s winter transfer window, he sealed a move to Milan and has since let his feet do the talking. This year he helped them qualify for the Champions League and has had a good start in the league. In his first World Cup at Brazil in 2014, you can expect fireworks on the pitch from him, and I hope that he leaves his mark.