Five Great Players To Watch In Brazil

Who To Keep Your Eye On This World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal
The most recent winner of FIFA's Ballon d'Or for being the best soccer player on the planet, Ronaldo has for now gotten the upper hand over the “Who’s the best?” debate that has been raging over him and Lionel Messi for the last several years. Even though the Portuguese have never made it past the Group of 16 since Ronaldo has played with the national side, the team’s 29-year-old star and captain is confident his side can be successful in Brazil. Obviously, much will depend on the Real Madrid forward who scored all four goals in Portugal’s World Cup play-off victory over Sweden. Portugal are most dangerous on the counter attack but the lack of a clinical strikers will be a concern, which could put some pressure on Ronaldo. The Real Madrid star’s performance in the 2014 World Cup will go a long way towards quieting any remaining doubters, and Portugal’s national team will desperately need his other-worldly play if they’re going to stand a chance of making it out of a tough World Cup group that includes Germany, USA and Ghana.

Lionel Messi – Argentina
Many call Messi one of the best soccer players of all time, and he’s only 26 years old. It's been a struggle to get Lionel Messi to perform for Argentina despite his dominance at club level but this time around things can change. Playing in the turf of arch rivals Brazil, Argentine fans will be hoping that the star attacker can be at his best in a month-long tournament. This go around may be his best chance, as Argentina’s squad is loaded with international stars all over the pitch, and Messi is at the top of his game and in full health after a hamstring injury last year. The only question is how well Argentina can play together behind their dynamo forward. Messi’s place in the football pantheon of greats is already assured, having achieved feats that would be beyond even the wildest dreams of most. But now it is time to remove that splinter and prove to everyone that he can perform and bring success to Argentina.

Eden Hazard  Belgium
After already winning the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award twice, Hazard reminded everybody that he’s still far from his prime, winning the Young Player of the Year award in England this season and will be one of the key men for his country in Brazil. He is generally deployed in a wide role keeping in mind his pace, trickery and good deliveries for the strikers. Hazard undoubtedly believes in his ability as his performances for Chelsea this season have shown. All Belgian fans and many fans around the globe will be hoping that Brazil will be the place where Hazard performs to the best of his ability - on the world stage.

Yaya Toure – Ivory Coast
Toure has been voted footballer of the year three consecutive times by national coaches based on the continent. But his 2013 success annoyed many Nigerian football fans, who believed runner-up John Obi Mikel, who rarely starts for his club Chelsea, should have topped the poll. With a weak defence behind him, Toure will be key in any success the Ivory Coast has at the World Cup. He surged forward to score 24 goals for Manchester City last season, so his physical presence and defensive ability offers Ivory Coast hope of a last-16 place in Brazil.

Sergio Ramos – Spain
Sergio Ramos was instrumental in Real Madrid's Champions League win and will be aiming to propel Spain to glory at the World Cup. The Real Madrid centre-back is in the form of his life, complementing strong defensive displays with an outstanding goalscoring streak in recent weeks. Ramos is an extremely attacking defender, which suits the style of play of both Madrid and Spain. Vicente del Bosque's side are attempting to make history and retain the World Cup while also holding the previous two European Championship titles. Ramos is a nailed-on starter for the reigning champions and will almost certainly be paired alongside Barcelona's Gerard Pique at the back.