With the build up to the 2014 Fifa world cup heating, the excitement and expectations are sky-high. Despite the fact that this year’s competition will miss many top players such as Gareth Bale and Zlatan Ibrahimovic whose national teams failed to qualify, the level of talents that will be on show in Brazil will still be very high. Let us take a look at the top 10 best football players to watch in World Cup 2014, in the biggest football event. The list includes experienced professionals who will be playing for the pride of winning the biggest competition in world football along with youngsters hoping to make their names known.
10. Julian Draxler
The German international, who plays for FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga is touted as the most promising attacking midfielder in Europe. He is highly rated by many pundits, many of whom have compared his playing style to that of his German compatriot Mesut Ozil. The 20 year-old will be looking to stamp his mark during his World Cup debut.
9. Andrea Pirlo
His trademark playing style and command in midfield has seen Pirlo become a living legend in top flight football. The 34 year-old is expected to hang his boots after the 2014 World Cup. This means that this is the last time fans will be enjoying Pirlo’s incisive and intricate passing skills.
8. Eden Hazard
He has enjoyed a very impressive second season at Stamford Bridge. This has made him an assured starter in Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. The 22-year-old Belgian will be playing in a team that currently boasts a number of young attacking talents such as Romelu Lukaku. The attacking approach of the national head coach, Marc Wilmots, will also help Hazard to showcase his trickery and pace in Brazil.
7. Arjen Robben
The Netherlands enjoyed an unbeaten run during the World Cup qualifiers. The 2010 qualifiers are neutrals’ favorites to lift the trophy in Brazil. All eyes will be on Robben due to his qualities and experience. He possesses astonishing dribbling skills and pace which he can use to hurt any defense in Brazil. Although Oranje fans have in the past criticized him of poor decision-making, this seems to have improved tremendously if his past few performances for Bayern Munich are anything to go by.
6. Mario Gotze
At 18, Mario Gotze had already made his mark in the Bundesliga and was in the Borussia Dortmund team that won back-to-back Bundesliga titles. After his surprise transfer to Bayern Munich, he has already established himself in Pep Guardiola’s first team and we all expect him to continue his current form into the World Cup. Defenders will be shivering at the prospect of facing the skilled attacking midfielder who will be playing alongside other great talents in the Germany national team.
5. Andres Iniesta
Iniesta was the hero of the day during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, scoring the only goal against Netherlands and winning Spain their first World Cup in history. His experience in top level competitions and on-pitch quality makes it reasonable to expect big things from Iniesta.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
A list of top 10 best football players to watch in World Cup 2014 cannot be complete without including the current Ballon D’or winner. His form at club level has been impressive and there is a huge chance he could win the Player of the Tournament in Brazil if he repeats his heroics for Portugal.
3. Diego Costa
His current form at club level has seen him carry Atletico Madrid to new heights, putting them in second position in the La Liga. His consistent goal scoring has also helped the Spanish club reach the UEFA Champions League semi final. Such performances saw two countries, Brazil and Spain, fighting to have him in their respective camps. He however made the decision to represent Spain. With Spain’s other strikers struggling this season, we expect Costa to be the main striker for Del Bosque’s side, an assurance that we will see more of him in Brazil.
2. Lionel Messi
Although he has missed a big part of the 2013/14 season due to injury problems, many fans will be hoping to see more of Messi’s magic at the World Cup. His past contribution in the Argentina national team has been criticized with many pundits questioning his inability to replicate his club performances when playing for his country. Messi will be looking to prove his critics wrong and it is obvious that the four-time Ballon D’or winner can set the world cup alight with his magical left foot.
1. Neymar dos Santos
His transfer to Barcelona may have been marred by controversy, but this has not stopped the 21 year-old Brazilian from making his mark in the La Liga. The hosts are obviously the favorites in the 2014 World Cup and we all expect the youngster to play a big role in the campaign with his pace, trickery and superb finishing skills. There are already other top players in the Brazil national team and their support will help the talented youngster to make a mark in his first World Cup.
Brazil has faced several challenges during in the preparations, including deaths of workers at the construction sites and the slow progress of construction work. Despite these off-field issues, football fans are in for yet another treat from these skilled players. Fifa president has actually promised that it will be the ‘best World Cup ever’.