Friday, 2 June 2006

Fizzy’s “World Cup Ones To Watch”

Lukas Podolski - Striker - Germany

Just bought by Bayern Munich and expected to be the wonder-boy of the German team, having scored prolifically for the national team so far. A Pole by birth, his presence adds flavour to the Germany v Poland match on June 14th.

Aaron Lennon - Winger – England
If Sven has the sense to unleash the fire-brand Spurs youngster on the opposition, England may well do better than any of us up here are hoping. Fast, skilful and utterly fearless Lenno may well be the man to provide England threadbare attack with the ammo it needs. If he plays.

Khalid Boulahrouz - Centre Back – Holland
Known to HSV fans as “Khalid the cannibal” because he “gobbles up the opposition” this guy is an uncompromising but well balanced defender who uses the ball well. With Holland going with a largely new look defence, the reliability and consistency Boulahrouz offers will be vital to the Dutch.

Leo Messi – Attacking Midfielder/Forward - Argentina
Barcelona "ace" Messi is the most exciting prospect to come out of Argentina since Maradona. Given that Argentina are taking their best side for many years to the World Cup, this kid could provide the extra magic required to take them all the way. The only doubt hanging over him is the injury he picked up against Chelsea in the Champions League, which he has just recovered from.

Robinho - Striker - Brazil
Real Madrid star Robinho has had a disappointing first season in Spain, and blows a little hot and cold, but given he’ll be getting his supply from Ronaldiho, Kaka, and Ronaldo he should have an excellent chance of proving he justifies the hype he was the subject of just last year.

Johan Elmander - Attacking Midfielder/Forward - Sweden
Rangers target Elmander has been described as a “Zatlan Ibrahimovic with more pace” and as Bronby manager Michael Laudrup’s best ever signing.
So not much to live up to then as the lad understudies to both Zatlan and the legendary Henrik Larsson. The twice Danish player of the year may not be a natural goal-scorer, but is renowned in his homeland for crafty yet direct play in front of goal.

Franck Ribery – Attacking Midfielder/Forward – France
When your club knocks back a £9m bid from Manchester Utd for you just before the World Cup, some player would find it a bit unsettling, but count on this lad to live up to the tag of “the new Zidane” even if he only gets a bit part in Les Blues campaign.

Mehdi Mahdavikia – Right Winger/Right Full Back - Iran
The man who scored what would be the winner against the USA in that classic 1998 grudge match is still Iran's main attacking threat. A stalwart for Hamburg in recent years, he has been voted his clubs player of the year twice in 2003 and 2004 and is generally considered Iran’s greatest ever player.

Shunsuke Nakamura – Attacking Midfielder - Japan
Celtic fans will know all about Naka’s silky skills, but many feel this is the World Cup during which he will emerge from the shadow of Shiji Ono and Hiditoshi Nakata as Japan’s creative force. They face a tough group however and he will have to be at his very best to shine.

Nikola Zigic - Striker – Serbia & Montenegro
This 6’ 8” beanpole will partner Ex Chelsea forward Kezman up front and boasts a remarkable scoring record for club and country. He’s not just a big lad either, with a tremendous shot and a deft touch on the deck as well. For a big man.

DaMarcus Beasley - Winger/Striker– USA

Lighting fast if a little light on dribbling skills, Beasley gets into dangerous positions through his speed and tremendous strength. Expect the USA to be similarly fit, mobile and efficient.

Carlos Salcido – Defender Right/Centre- Mexico

Carlos Arnoldo Salcido Flores is a typically South American footballing anomaly. A strong central defender who can also play on the right, he is known for his blistering attacking play and pace and is often behind devastating counter attacks for his club side Chivas de Guadalajara. Mexico have been great value in the last few world cups and are taking a talented squad once again.

Sabrosa Simao – Right Winger - Portugal

Benfica winger Simao has been a target for Liverpool for over a season now and with a goals record of 72 in 172 from the wing it’s not hard to see why. This is the first chance the As Águias skipper has had to get his teeth into a major tournament fully fit and is part of a very strong Portugal side.

Niko Kranjcar- Attacking Midfielder/Forward – Croatia

Kranjcar is as hyped and feted a Croatian youngster as there ever has been. A gifted attacking midfield player, he has also been utilised as a striker for club sides Dynamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split. Sometime criticised for his physical condition, he reportedly turned up for Croatia’s training camp over-weight. But no-one denies his talent and the fact that he in most part carries an average Croatia side’s hopes for success this time round.

Jaroslav Plasil – Left Winger– Czech Republic

Monaco midfielder Plasil has so far failed to live up to the hype he generated when he first burst onto the international scene. While he is recognised as one of the most technically gifted players of his generation, his fitness and temperament are often sited as a problem. Yet to shine on the major stage, perhaps with Nedved and Jankulovski aging now is his chance to grab the limelight alongside Tomas Rosicky.

Didier Zokora - Defensive Midfielder– Ivory Coast
If you like a big, physical midfield enforcer, you’ll love Didier Zokora. Nicknamed “The Maestro” by St Etienne fans, this guy will be at a big, big club shortly after the World Cup finishes. Many tip him to finally prove the ideal replacement for Roy Keane at Manchester United.

Sulley Muntari – Midfielder – Ghana

Udinese man Muntari has been a major hit in Italy this season, proving a tough but elegant player in the centre of midfield. Look for him to outshine his more illustrious colleague Michael Essien.

Tomasz Kuszczak – Goalkeeper – Poland
West Brom keeper Kuszczak will have to recover from a huge blunder in the warm up game with Colombia in order to stake his claim as potential keeper of the tournament.
Despite being agile and tremendously fast to react, Kuszczak has also shown himself up as occasionally blunder prone and not always the best decision maker.
However he is the kind of keeper who can be inspirational, keeping you in a match single-handedly as Baggies fans found occasionally last season, and that may prove essential in Poland campaign.

David Villa – Striker – Spain
You get one thing and one thing only from this guy – goals; lots of them and from all over the park as well. Villa scored a remarkable 28 goals in 38 games for Valencia last season. Have Spain at last found the trigger man they need to finally fulfil all that potential?

No comments: