Category Archives: World Cup 2014

World Cup: ToonForum’s Players to Watch

Click here to go to the original thread by Ramone

So here it is; the definitive list of players who are going to light up the World Cup this year. It’s a eclectic mix of veteran strikers, rising stars and relative unknowns but they are all sure to have an impact on their nation’s hopes of lifting the coveted trophy. Especially Shola.

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Paul Pogba

Age: 21
Nation: France
Position: Central midfield
Club: Juventus

A product of Manchester United’s youth system, little was made of Paul Pogba’s move to Italian giants Juventus back in 2012. At the time Pogba had only made 3 senior appearances but he was still highly rated by the club and was touted to be a future first team regular. A grievance with the club’s management, in particular Sir Alex Ferguson, appeared to be the young Frenchman’s motivation to move on and seek regular first team football, especially as he was getting to an age where he could begin to think about playing for his national side at a senior level.

It didn’t take long for Pogba to settle in Turin and he quickly gained a reputation as a hard working but also technically gifted midfielder. His range of passing and ball control rivaled that of his team mates and Antonio Conte’s policy of squad rotation allowed him to flourish alongside, and sometimes start ahead of, players such as Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio. His penchant for spectacular long range goals also made him the star of many a Youtube compilation.

By the end of the 2012/13 season Pogba had racked up 27 appearances; scoring 5 goals in the process and establishing himself as one the brightest prospects in French and, some might argue, world football. During the summer, despite having already made appearances at senior level for France, he captained the Under-20 side to victory in the World Cup in Turkey; winning the player of the tournament award in the process.

The 2013/14 season has been more of the same for Pogba and at the end of 2013 his achievements were recognised by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, who gave him the Golden Boy award for the best under-21 player in Europe. Previous winners include Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Aguero and Mario Gotze.

He has already beaten his goal tally for last season and has all but cemented his place in the bianconeri first team. At the time of writing, he has made 7 appearances for France since the start of 2013, scoring his first goal in a World Cup qualifier against Belarus. As with almost every player that features on this list, the World Cup in Brazil is possibly the biggest stage for Pogba to showcase his talents and with rumours of bids from his old club it could prove to be the tournament that truly sparks off his career. Continue reading

World Cup: Group H – Preview

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Livin’ Davide Loca

Algeria

Algeria could prove to be the shock team of this group. With a rampant attack of Feghouli, Slimani and Soudani, Algeria will certainly be able to improve on their 2010 World Cup where they failed to score. Strong down the wings and with excellent poachers, Algeria will be able to challenge any defence.

Their playing style will likely see them pressing high up the pitch trying to win possession back, with Bentaleb and Taider as central passers behind the attacking trio. Defensively, they are often disorganised at set pieces and are severely lacking in a stand out goalkeeper, something which could hamstring what otherwise looks like an entertaining, goalscoring team.

I predict Algeria to battle it out with Russia and South Korea for second place, ultimately just falling behind. However, this is a hard group to call and any of the three could go through.

Best Finish: Group Stages – Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, South Africa 2010

Goalkeepers: Rais Mbolhi (CSKA Sofia), Cedric Si Mohamed (CS Constantine), Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USM Alger).

Defenders: Essaid Belkalem (Watford, on loan from Granada), Madjid Bougherra (Lekhwya Club), Liassine Cadamuro (Mallorca), Faouzi Ghoualm (Napoli), Rafik Halliche (Academica Coimbra), Aissa Mandi (Stade Reims), Carl Medjani (Valenciennes), Djamel Mesbah (Livorno), Mehdi Mostefa (AC Ajaccio).

Midfielders: Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham), Yasine Brahimi (Granada), Medhi Lacen (Getafe), Saphir Taider (Inter Milan), Hassan Yebda (Udinese).

Forwards: Abdelmoumene Djabou (Club Africain), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Nabil Ghilas (Porto), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Hilal Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb).

Manager: Vahid Halilhodzic – Bosnian, gets the best from his players.

Last line-up: (Algeria 2 – 1 Romania)

M’Bolhi
Medjani – Cadamuro – Bougherra – Ghoulam
Bentaleb – Mostefa – Taider
Feghouli – Soudani – Djabou

One To Watch: Sofiane Feghouli (RW, Valencia) Continue reading

World Cup: Group G – Preview

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Livin’ Davide Loca

Germany

With some of the finest players available, Germany will feel that this is their year, although Reus’ recent ruling out may damped their hopes.

The Germans have has lost just one game since August 2012 and scored in all but two since the last World Cup, they will be out to at least get to the semi finals this year. They will look to build from the back four, working the ball to the three players behind the strikers who will work their magic to get goals for Germany.

With a host of attacking talent there is little chance that Germany will find themselves snuffed out. They are not without issues though. Most of their key players have had campaigns disrupted by injury or poor form and the weight of expectation to perform may cause an issue for the German players. Although with a solid defence and rampant attack they should rightfully count themselves amongst the favourites to win.

I predict Germany to progress to at least the semi finals, probably going on to the final.

Best Finish: Winners – Switzerland 1954, Germany 1974, Italy 1990

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover)

Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Grosskreutz (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria).

Midfielders: Julian Draxler (Schalke), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Christoph Kramer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).

Forwards: Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal).

Manager: Joachim Low – likely to be his last chance after a disappointing Euros.

Last line-up: (Germany 6 – 1 Armenia)

Weidenfeller
Boateng – Mertesacker – Hummels – Howedes
Khedira – Lahm – Kroos
Schurrle – Muller – Reus

One To Watch: Julian Draxler (CAM, Schalke) Continue reading

World Cup: Group F – Preview

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Livin’ Davide Loca

Argentina

During qualifying Argentina seem to have finally found their best form. Going 18 months unbeaten, they now field an attacking 4-3-3 with a settled group of players all supporting Messi.

The forward group of Di Maria, Aguero, Higuain and Messi is arguably the strongest of any team at the tournament, and Argentina will be looking to outscore any opposition they turn up against. Certainly they may need to, with a defence that will be likely to leak goals from set pieces, in particular because their goalkeeper options are extremely poor, only Orion playing regularly for his club this season.

However, with an easy group they will hope to get a very good start to the tournament. I predict Argentina to top the group comfortably and end up in the semi-finals, possibly even winning the cup.

Best Finish: Winners – Argentina 1978, Mexico 1986

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors).

Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Jose Basanta (Monterrey).

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys), Enzo Perez (Benfica).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris St-Germain).

Manager: Alejandro Sabella – ex-Sheffield United player, seems to have Messi firing.

Last line-up: (Argentina 2 – 0 Slovenia)

Romero
Fernandez – Mascherano – Basanta
Perez – Fernandez – Biglia – Roho
Alvarez – Lavezzi – Rodriguez

One To Watch: Lionel Messi (ST, Barcelona) – will he finally show up on the big stage? Continue reading

World Cup: Group E – Preview

Click here to go to the discussion thread by Livin’ Davide Loca

Ecuador

Used to tiring teams out in the oxygen starved environment of Quito, Ecuador become a different team when playing abroad, failing to win away from home in qualifying.

With a large proportion of their squad playing in the Ecuadorian league, the team will be well conditioned and capable of running all game, something which influences their play style with quick, pacey attacks making them an entertaining side. They will, however, be partly let down by a defence which has had little playing time of late at their clubs due to injuries and poor form, causing Rueda to draft in the 19 year old Cristian Ramirez of Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Favouring a 4-3-3, Ecuador will look to get forward, but should one of their key players – Valencia, Caicedo, Montero – get injured then there is little back up to fill in successfully.

I predict Ecuador to be exciting and have the potential for a shock. Whilst this group should be dominated by the European teams I can see Ecuador getting a point or two which could influence the later stages with the winner of this group likely avoiding Argentina in the next round.

Best Finish: Round of 16 – Germany 2006

Goalkeepers: Maximo Banguera (Barcelona SC), Alexander Dominguez (LDU Quito), Adrian Bone (El Nacional).

Defenders: Frickson Erazo (Flamengo), Jorge Guagua, Oscar Bagui, Gabriel Achilier (all Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona SC).

Midfielders: Segundo Castillo (Al-Hilal), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Cristian Noboa (Dynamo Moscow), Luis Saritama (Barcelona SC), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Edison Mendez (Independiente Santa Fe), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana), Michael Arroyo (Atlante).

Forwards: Felipe Caicedo (Al-Jazira), Jefferson Montero (Morelia), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul), Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana), Enner Valencia (Pachuca).

Manager: Reinaldo Rueda – Colombian, specialist in youth development.

Last line-up: (Ecuador 2 – 2 England)

Banguera
Paredes – Guagua – Erazo – Ayovi
A. Valencia – Gruezo – Noboa – Montero
E. Valencia – Caicedo

One To Watch: Cristian Ramirez (LB, Fortuna Dusseldorf) Continue reading