With the World Cup nearly upon us, here is round up of what to look out for at the World in Brazil.
One of the most thrilling footballing sides to watch in the South American section, Tim Vickery, BBC’s South American football expert is full of praise: “Full of pace, movement and attacking intent, Chile are a delight to watch.” Slightly matured from the 2010 World Cup, players such as Alexsis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal have become pivotal to the side. Both hitting their prime in the last few years, the World Cup could not have come at a better time for the Chileans. They are a serious dark horse for the winning the tournament.
Another ‘dark horse’ Belgium are oozing with young talent, many of which play in the Premier League. Eye catching names such as Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Jan Vertonghen are the nucleus of the side. Unlike most ‘golden generations’ they have strength in depth, there is no weak link in the side. It is also a fairly balanced side, there is no player that is levels above the others. A great advert for the Premier League, winning it may be slightly out of their reach.
After winning the Gold Cup again in the summer, USA clinched their place in Brazil with a few games to spare. Under the guidance of German coach, Jurgen Klinsmann they have developed into the top side in North American football. Currently they are arguably streets ahead of a dysfunctional Mexico team. An excellent blend of MLS and European based talent, USA are capable of going the furthest they have ever gone in a World Cup competition.
Players to look out for
This is his World Cup. Therefore the spotlight will be firmly place upon him. Before the Confederations Cup, he had convinced very few people of his talents. However after playing an instrumental role in Brazil winning the competition, he deserves the plaudits he has. His start in Barcelona has also shown his talent as he has fitted in extremely well, lifting his performance when Lionel Messi was missing from the starting lineup. This season is massive from him, particularly in the Champions League. If he can make a mark in that, it could him the confidence to get it done for his nation.
Another Barcelona player, Cesc Fabregas will again be vital to the Spain cause. He has a very argument of being picked ahead of Xavi, for his club form and the fact he brings a more youthful element to the Spain midfield. He also has a more versatile range than Xavi, after showing he is more than capable of playing the ‘false nine’ to great effect.
Mario Gotze- The Bayern Munich midfielder may well be the final piece in jigsaw of what is potentially a great Germany side. With the ability to make a killer run or pass, he is the player that is a match winner. He may not necessarily start for Germany, but the contribution he will make, may be massive.
Games we’d like to see
Brazil v Argentina
A game between the two heavyweights of South American football in a South American World Cup would be a dream. Messi v Neymar, it would be intriguing to see the two Barcelona stars battling it out. They have not met in a World Cup since 1990, so it would be a real treat for their first World Cup meeting of the 21st century to be in Brazil.
USA v Mexico
Mexico haven’t qualified for the World Cup yet, but if they do it would be great to see the two top sides in North American football battling it out. Particularly to see how far USA are ahead of Mexico.
Belgium v Netherlands
The meeting of two sides from the European ‘lowlands’ would be interesting as they are both on form and both harbour slightly changed squads from the last time they were at the World Cup. Certainly Belgium, who are currently in the midst of their ‘golden generation’.