Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Aguero, Neymar, Messi, Suarez, Ronaldo, Neymar, Neymar. It’s all we’ve heard the last few weeks. Let’s face it; we all know what these guys can do. And let’s face it; we all expect them to do it. But that’s not the real beauty of the World Cup. The beauty is that it unearths huge talent who lift us off our seats, get us talking, and eventually go on to become household names.
We’re lucky this year in the sense that there are some incredible players on show this summer – so much so the likes of Robinho, Samir Nasri, and Landon Donovan haven’t even made their squads – and with this likely to be the greatest tournament of all time, they’ll certainly want to shift that tag of being underrated.
And these could be the men to do it…
Joao Moutinho (Portugal)
It’s all about one man in the Portugal side – apparently anyway. But aside from Ballon d’Or winning Cristiano Ronaldo, the Mediterranean nation doesn’t have a bad side, and Joao Moutinho is most certainly an integral part of it.
He’s been a star player in Ligue 1 this season for Monaco, challenging for the French title, and becoming a huge threat particularly thanks to his creativity. Which will be important in getting the most out of captain Ronaldo. He’ll be right at the heart of the team, and if he can put in some big performances against Germany, Ghana, and the USA, clubs in bigger European leagues could be on red alert.
Mateo Kovacic (Croatia)
The 20-year old will be thrown head on into his first major tournament this summer, but with a season in Serie A that has seen him turn the heads of Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool. The Inter star joins a trio of class-acts in the centre of the park, alongside Luka Modric, and Ivan Rakitic, so it’s no wonder he’s the least talked about Croatian midfielder.
But one man who does believe he’ll boost the Croatian World Cup odds is teammate Nikita Jelavic saying, “He is a great, great talent and has a big chance to show the world what he can do.
“He is very creative and can be an important player for Croatia at this World Cup and beyond.”
Josip Drmic (Switzerland)
Despite being in a side relegated from the Bundesliga, Josip Drmic still managed to score 17 for the season, capturing the attention of Bayer Leverkusen who promptly signed him at the end of the season. And that could be good timing. Expect him to score a few this World Cup in a side who could do remarkably well.
Blaise Matuidi (France)
Like some of the greats, Blaise Matuidi quietly goes about his business on the pitch, not setting the world alight, but doing his job. He was an ever-present in the PSG team that lifted Ligue 1 this season, and set an astounding record of 484 interceptions last season.
His defensive qualities will certainly be welcomed come June 15th, yet he seems to have added something else to his game – the ability to score goals. He’s already netted in the warm ups, and scored an unbelievable scissor kick against the Dutch in March. If France go far, expect this man to be in the team of the tournament.
Arturo Vidal (Chile)
The midfielder has been instrumental in both the Juventus and Chilean team over the past few seasons and scored five times in 11 games during the qualifying stages of the World Cup. His tackling is right up there with the best, and he’ll hold all the strings for Chile – who go into the tournament as underdogs for the trophy – particularly in the Group Stage when they go up against Spain and the Netherlands.