Oct 162014

Before the game against Estonia, English starlet Raheem Sterling walked up to the Three Lion’s boss Roy Hodgsonand complained of fatigue, hence the coach decided to start Raheem from the bench. This act has been met with series of backlash as many English fans have queried the youngster’s decision to select the games he’d like to feature in for his country and in fact former England international Alvin Martin has lashed out at Raheem Sterling stating that if the 19-year-old continues that way, he could lose his spot in the national team.

Alvin who won 17 caps for England in the 1980s has wondered why Raheem who has played in every single Liverpool game this season, including their continental actions and the lengthy Capital One tie against Middlesbrough, has now declined to feature for his national team. Alvin further explained to talkSPORT that;

“If Sterling wants to pick and choose games, you’ve got someone like Adam Lallana and other players in the England team who are more than capable of taking on the mantle as the attacking creator of the team”

There is no problem with the players saying they are not 100 per cent, but it is very difficult when you play for England because people are going to look at it in a certain way. There will be lots of football supporters questioning why he is too tired at this stage of the season.’

Sterling has created about 18 chances for the Reds this season and might actually have been spent but there is just a thin line between being a patriot and being a traitor especially when the fans watch you dazzle for your club and then you complain of being tired before an important international match.

However Roy Hodgson doesn’t seem to attach any importance to the issue and has even backed the youngster’s decision. The England boss was quoted by the Mirror to have said;

‘We were training, doing a light session. Raheem had done the warm up and said, I am really feeling a bit tired, and I’m not in my best form at the moment because I am feeling a bit tired. So I said best thing is Adam Lallana starts the game and you rest and I bring you on from the bench.

Now, from what we can deduce from the action, there was nothing wrong with Raheem and even his coach said so. However, the irate fans should not overlook the fact that the youngster might just be acting in the best interest of the English national team. If he was actually tired, and Hodgson insisted on fielding him, what is the probability that the attacking midfielder will be at his best? So as far as the player and coach understand themselves and thankfully England got a win, they should just cut the teenager some slacks.

By Tomilayo Alapinni

Sep 092014

Chelsea legend Frank Lampard has revealed that a conversation with Manchester United’s Luke Shaw at this summer’s World Cup lead him to believe he was probably too old to still be playing for England.

“I was having a chat with Luke Shaw and I mentioned Tony Adams and he didn’t seem to know who I was talking about,” said Lampard. “I said: ‘Are you winding me up?’ And he said: ‘Who did he play for?’ I knew then then it was time to retire.”

England were victorious without Lampard last night but they still have a long way to be included in the favourites with Will Hill for Euro 2016.

Jul 252014

England headed to the 2014 World Cup on the back of a decent qualification campaign, and while expectations were at an all-time low, they were at least supposed to put up a fight and spring a surprise or two on Brazilian soil. However, the Three Lions ultimately endured a torrid tournament as they bowed out in a pit of despair after embarrassingly suffering their earliest World Cup exit since 1958.

England’s fate was sealed in just eight days (or five if starting from their first match) into the showcase spectacle after they lost both of their opening two Group D matches, before departing Brazil on the back of a forgettable goalless draw against surprise package Costa Rica.

Below is a breakdown of England’s meek exit from what was otherwise a memorable feast of football, while we also assess the state of the squad ahead of the rapidly approaching Euro 2016 qualification campaign and how things can improve quickly if Roy Hodgson and his men are to regain some face in France in two years’ time.

The Breakdown

The Three Lions showed sparks of electricity in their opening 2-1 defeat to Italy, and could count themselves unlucky for not coming away with a point. Despite the loss supporters were, on the whole, pleased with the performance and thus had high hopes of getting the better of Uruguay.

In their following game, after falling behind to an inevitable Luis Suarez goal, Roy Hodgson’s men battled back to draw level with 15 minutes left on the clock, only to blow it 10 minutes later by alarmingly switching off at the back, which allowed Suarez to bag a brace, and the win. Costa Rica’s shock 1-0 victory over Italy the following day meant England’s early exit was already confirmed by the time they locked horns with Los Ticos, which depressingly ended 0-0.

So, England departed South America with only a pitiful point to their name, which represented their lowest-ever haul in a World Cup group stage, while it was also the first time that they had failed to progress through to the knockout stages since way back since 1958. The Three Lions’ wretched display means they have since plummeted down to 20th in the latest FIFA World Rankings, their lowest standing in a whopping 20 years.

In a nutshell it was ultimately a great shame that England were merely a by-stander at what was otherwise a simply stunning tournament.

The Manager

In the aftermath of virtually any other World Cup the England manager would have been booted out of the exit door, however the FA have continued to back Hodgson, who came under immense scrutiny following his side’s early exit.

Critics slammed his tactical shortcomings, the team’s defensive frailties and also their failure to convert chances. In fairness, prior to the tournament Hodgson was urged by just about everyone to place his faith in the youngsters (it was England’s second youngest World Cup squad ever), which he did to an extent, but in the end it was a lack of experience that ironically hurt England.

On a positive note the preparation and organization was meticulous, and the camp couldn’t have been happier, in stark contrast to the previous World Cup under Fabio Capello. Meanwhile Hodgson’s England arguably employed a more attacking style, with many of the youngsters shining at times, however the consistency, talent and firepower simply wasn’t there…

Hodgson’s contract shoots through until 2016, but the former Fulham boss knows that a slow start to their European Champion qualification campaign could be costly, although he is very unlikely to leave his post unless England fail to qualify, which is unthinkable yet not impossible. Furthermore, it is painful that there are no obvious candidates to succeed him.

The Players

While Hodgson has to take a lot of the blame, his players can hardly been excused from the savage spotlight. Skipper Steven Gerrard and “star man” Wayne Rooney were dispiritingly below par. Gerrard did everything right off the pitch, but couldn’t produce the goods on it, with a long, hard season at Liverpool (which ultimately ended in heartbreak) likely to have zapped his energy. The 36-year-old has since announced his international retirement, and he leaves a big gap in his wake.

Rooney, as always, was under immense pressure, but did manage to grab his first World Cup goal and assist. However, he frustratingly failed to stamp his authority in any of the three games, and is now likely to have only one more chance to make an impact at the World Cup.

England’s defensive shortcomings were painfully exposed. On both occasions England equalised (against Italy and Uruguay) they failed to make the most of the momentum, and were made to pay for this as they were subsequently torn apart at the back. Glen Johnson struggled, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka were far from their best, while Gary Cahill sorely missed the presence of Chelsea teammate John Terry. Elsewhere Goalkeeper Joe Hart was on the most part a bystander, and only made one save in the two games in which he played.

At times England were exciting and dynamic going forward but they frequently ran out of ideas, with composure in front of goal a major problem. The Three Lions have now only scored five goals in their last two World Cup campaigns, which is less than Germany (seven) scored against Brazil. Furthermore they have failed to score two or more goals since drawing 2-2 with Sweden in 2006.

Euro 2016

Despite their World Cup horror show England will be expected to waltz through a favourable Euro 2016 qualification Group E featuring Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino. The Three Lions are the hot odds-on favourites to qualify as group winners, while the pessimistic amongst you will find odds of 20/1 for England to repeat the agony of 2008 and fail to qualify.

It will be interesting to see what changes Hodgson makes to both his team and his formation. He is likely to continue to bring the youngsters through so they can earn valuable experience, with prominent roles expected for the likes of Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling.

Hodgson also has his work cut out to replace Gerrard, whose retirement has left a gaping hole in midfield, while it also means that England are now without a natural leader. Rooney is the favourite to wear the armband, although he could face competition from the likes of Gary Cahill and Joe Hart. Only time will tell in relation to how England respond to their World Cup heartache, but on the plus side there are an exciting band of youngsters coming through, who in time can hopefully lift the spirits of a deflated nation.

Jun 252014

Nike’s HyperVenom boots have had a starring role at this summer’s World Cup, being worn by the likes of Neymar, Mario Balotelli, Eden Hazard and Wayne Rooney.

The boots have a 3-D textured knit, Flyknit as it is referred to at Nike, for ultimate friction on the ball and total control. They also have laser-cut side panels on national team kits for added ventilation to keep you cool under pressure. Nike have worked long and hard on getting the fit just right, with an agility cage system which locks down the foot without restricting lateral movement. They also include a one-piece design, using thin PU film and performance mesh, which reduces weight and brings the foot closer to the ball.

Nike’s Mercurial boot also has had plenty of exposure in Brazil, being worn by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba.

But what’s the difference between the boots?

The HyperVenom has replaced the T90, although to look at, is more Mercurial than T90, but there are key difference between them.

The upper materials on each boot are very different. The HyperVenom gives the feeling and benefits of a bare-foot touch, thanks to their unique material. They are much softer than the Mercurial upper. They feel like wax like to touch and provide considerably more grip than the speed control texture on the Mercurial.

Nike say that ‘the HyperVenom allows players to create more space’, which means the boots offer you the capacity to turn quicker, therefore lose your opponent faster and give you more time to pick a pass or get a shot away.

The Nike Mercurial is designed to grab onto that through ball, charge down on goal and get a shot in without a defender getting close to you. For that reason, the sole-plate and upper design is centered to enable maximum acceleration.

Jun 242014

For the third time in his career, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has bitten an opponent. In Uruguay’s final group game against Italy, Giorgio Chiellini was the latest victim of Suarez’s bite.

Suarez has been very vocal in interviews over the past week about how he has been treated by the English media. You would imagine that his most recent attack might draw more criticism.

Jun 202014

England’s World Cup dreams are hanging by a thread after defeat to Uruguay last night, and according to experts at SOS Rehydrate, The FA only have themselves to blame for not properly preparing their players for the conditions in Brazil.

Dr Blanca Liazola, founder of SOS Rehydrate, said: “It’s clear that The FA has their hydration strategy all wrong. England have been by far the worst effected team at the World Cup when it comes to dehydration, and that just points the finger at their poor preparation!”

Costa Rica winger Christian Bolanos has already said that they will target England’s inability to cope with the 29 degree Celsius conditions in Belo Horizonte. Dr Liazola agrees.

“Costa Rica are right to be confident – England can’t cope with the conditions, but it’s not down to the players. It’s down to the team doctors to provide their players with the correct hydration plans and right now The FA are failing at that spectacularly – they’re failing the players and they’re failing the fans.”

Traditional isotonic sports drinks have too much sugar and not enough electrolytes to rehydrate effectively. SOS Rehydrate has three times as many electrolytes as traditonal sports drinks and is the only sports rehydration product that utilises the World Health Organisation’s oral rehydration solution standards.

Dr Lizaola said: “There were signs later on in the Italy game that players were losing concentration due to dehydration. Wayne Rooney’s corner was a classic example. When players get routine things that wrong, and others are suffering cramp, you have to point to dehydration. The FA have scored a major own goal in this World Cup”.

SOS Rehydrate is the only sports rehydration product that can be compared to an IV drip to treat dehydration effectively.

You won’t be betting on England anymore, after their embarrassing exit, but there are plenty of better hydrated teams you could use your World Cup free bets on.

Jun 192014

Predictions from the team at

Forget psychic pandas or cliche-spouting ex-pros – for a more considered opinion on how the World Cup is going to play out, read on.

World leaders in sports spread betting, Sporting Index, have created an infographic outlining their predictions for Brazil 2014, which are rather more specific than some of the musings.

Want to see who they think will make the final? How many penalties will be missed? When the first hat-trick will be scored? The infographic has it.

And it has a detailed breakdown of the good – total goals scored; the bad – the first game that will include an own goal; and the downright ugly – the fastest sending off.

Jun 182014

England comes 4th; this would be a brilliant result! Unfortunately not all footballers had an official Twitter- notably Messi was without a page, either as a response to online abuse, or because he simply doesn’t use it. There are also some young players who, despite not having a large Twitter following, may make a massive impact in the tournament.

We did see that generally speaking, players who play or have played for in either a top English club or Real Madrid and Barcelona have a bigger following, probably because these are the club sides with the largest international fan base. From our results, Spain are set to retain the cup, which they won for the first time in 2010. Despite not having the player with the most Twitter followers, a title held by Ronaldo who was largely responsible for Portugal making it to the final, they had the most Twitter followers as a team.

Unfortunately the World Cup is never so logical and we may see some unexpected results, it looks set to be an exciting summer for international football.

From Stay Sourced.

Jun 172014

The draw for the next edition of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) took place on Wednesday night at the association’s headquarters. 24 teams were filtered into eight groups of three, including three Caribbean clubs: Bayamon, Waterhouse and Alpha United.

Puerto Rican side Bayamon has probably benefited the most from the draw, named in Group 8 and pitted against Comunicaciones of Guatemala and Club America of Mexico. They avoided the MLS clubs and will be acclimatised to the expected heat in both Central American countries. Bayamon are making their debut in the CCL and they should be relatively hopeful regarding their chances of making it to the knockout phases.

Waterhouse of Jamaica has been given a tough draw alongside MLS club D.C United and Tauro FC of Panama in Group 4. D.C have a squad comprised of experienced players and the latter reigned supreme in last year’s Apertura, having already made five previous appearances at the CCL. Waterhouse are completely new to the competition and it is difficult to lobby a calculated prediction as to how they’ll cope with a reasonably modest squad in comparison to their opponents. They ran riot in qualifying, amassing 10 goals in three games and a total of nine points, including a mauling of former Caribbean representatives in the CCL, Caledonia AIA.

Jermaine ‘Tuffy’ Anderson left them in December last year. He was their primary source of goals, a prolific marksman who tore the Jamaican Premier League apart for several seasons. But it didn’t seem to affect Waterhouse in their qualifying process as the likes of Juvaune Benjamin and Kenroy Howell stepped up to the mark and delivered the goals. Highly rated midfielder Romario Campbell, Nicholy Findlayson and Hughan Gray are recent recruits to the Jamaican national setup, too, for summer friendlies. But there will inevitably be lingering doubts over their performances in the CCL simply because they are an unknown quantity at this level.

In Group 5, Alpha United of Guyana will test their mettle against Portland Timbers of MLS and Honduran side Olimpia. It’s a very tough group against two very capable opponents, but Alpha does have something in their favour over their Caribbean counterparts: previous CCL experience. Even if just a little, they still have it. The Hammer was put into the preliminaries three years ago against Costa Rican powerhouses, Herediano, and they took the brunt of a 10-2 hammering. This will be Alpha’s first CCL appearance since, this time at the group stages.

Usually, if striker Kithson Bain plays well then so do Alpha. He has enjoyed a fruitful 2014 thus far and the veteran will carry the burden of scoring most of the goals at the CCL, supported by Andrew Murray. Alpha will be the underdog of Group 5. No-one expects them to get results, to succeed, to push on to the knockouts. But that could just play into their hands.

Portland are already group favourites but their trip to the Providence Cricket Stadium – where Alpha play their big matches – located in the country’s capital, Georgetown, won’t be a straightforward task. Wayne Dover’s men will make it difficult, compact the midfield, try and hit opponents on the break with speed and incision.

Whatever the upshot of the competition is from a Caribbean perspective, them just being there at such a respected and well-covered event is positive news for the region in its own right. More people will now become familiar with these teams who previously they had never heard of. Players will have bigger platforms in which to perform, and this could culminate in a new contract overseas. Coaches can pick up on new tactics, formulas and methods of coaching and bring it to the region. Fans can experience high quality, memorable days out with road trips to different places in new countries.

The Caribbean’s inclusion in the CCL is a blessing, irrespective of their performances at the competition.

Jun 142014

It’s here – the biggest football carnival of them all. Billions round the world will be watching the drama unfold during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. But here in England which place is proudest about the role they’ve played in England’s adventure?

Which part of the country has created the strike power in the team or the midfield dynamos, or the “shall not pass” defenders and keepers?

Where were they born, which clubs nurtured them on their way to stardom and whose club shirt do they wear right now?

Ask the question, see the answer. All the information is now displayed on a unique interactive map.

The full ‘66 squad are on it too so you can compare how footballing skill and club dominance have shifted over the decades since England’s one glorious World Cup success.

The only thing we can’t plot now are the England scores!

Visit the full map.

Jun 132014

If you asked most patriotic England fans how much they would pay to see the Three Lions lift the World Cup this summer, the answer would probably be “anything”.
However, with this year’s tournament being held in Brazil, the actual monetary value placed on this “anything” would stretch even the most avid fan’s dedication to the cause.

This is why we have decided to work out the true cost of England’s – very hypothetical – progression to World Cup glory for a typical England fan making the trip to South America.

To work out the total cost of watching England all the way to World Cup glory, we needed to run a simulation of the tournament so we could find out where fans would have to go to see the relevant games. We therefore ran the results based on the favourites for each game winning – unless of course they meet England, who win whatever the odds are.

Now we have the housekeeping out of the way, join us as we travel through this theoretical World Cup, before revealing what England’s progression would cost you if you made the trip to Brazil.

To see the full break down, visit the Ocean Finance website.

Jun 132014

FIFA claims to stand for the four ‘core values’ of authenticity, unity, performance, and integrity. But in recent years the leaders of world football have encountered waves of allegations concerning unaccountable and often corrupt administrative practices. Drawing upon exclusive interviews and oral evidence, a University of Brighton academic, Professor Alan Tomlinson, argues that those ‘core values’ have now been lost. Writing in the journal Sport in Society, Tomlinson claims that it is the tenure of the two presidents, since 1974, which has seen the transformation of FIFA from an INGO (an international non-governmental organization) to a BINGO, a business-oriented international non-governmental organization. A transformation which has created a culture in which unaccountability and corruption can thrive.

In his article, “The supreme leader sails on: leadership, ethics and governance in FIFA”, Tomlinson explores how the leadership style, structure and values of FIFA have changed over the years. FIFA was led for its first 70 years at presidential level by volunteer idealists, six men who saw their roles in FIFA as forms of public service, believing that football had the capability to cultivate relations between countries and nations. The following 38 years produced just two presidents: João Havelange (1974 –1998) and Sepp Blatter (1998 – present).

Tomlinson shows that it is in this era of presidential tenure when the game transformed into the modern global spectacle that we see today. Havelange realised the full commercial potential of sport in a global market and opened up the influence of the game to new media and markets. Blatter (a faithful employee of Havelange for almost quarter of a century) succeeded him as president in 1998, and continued with Havelange’s business acumen and marketing vision for professional sport. It is argued that the combination of FIFA’s transformation into a business-oriented organisation and the strength of autocratic power held by the president which has made FIFA vulnerable to the forms of exploitation which have resulted in allegations of corruption during Blatter’s presidency. The democratic structure of FIFA – one country/ association one vote – is easily manipulated as rewards can be given to small associations in return for their support and vote.

Is change possible or, as Tomlinson suggests, is the gap between the stated goals of the organisation and the practices of its leadership and core administration so entrenched that the mission statement is now little more than puffed-up rhetoric and hyperbole?

Jun 102014

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is now just a couple of weeks away and the attention of football fans is starting to turn towards the tournament in South America. All of the qualified nations are eyeing up a successful event and one of those is certainly Argentina who have been well backed for World Cup success for some time now. They are of course packed full of attacking talent and with the World Cup being held on their own continent, you have to think that Alejandro Sabella’s side will fancy their chances of winning the tournament for the first time since the Diego Maradona inspired team of 1986…

It is fair to say that Argentina have flattered to deceive in the World Cup since that triumph 28 years ago with the past few generations falling short since despite often being well fancied. They have failed to get past the quarter-finals since losing in the 1990 final and it will be interesting to see how they shape up ahead of this tournament. The first thing to say is that Argentina did qualify with the minimum of fuss, losing just two of their 16 games and scoring an impressive 35 goals in the process.

When it comes to attacking flair, few nations have the same power as Argentina with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain offering an embarrassment of riches when it comes to attacking options. All eyes will of course be on the great Lionel Messi who has proven himself to be one of the greatest players of all time during his club career with Barcelona over the past few years. He is the captain of Argentina and you do feel that if they are to go all the way, it is Messi who will have to star for them on the biggest stage of them all. It should however be noted that Messi has fallen slightly below his usual standards for Barca this season, while his return of 37 goals from 84 games at International level is also a tad disappointing given his ability and class.

Higuain has had a good first season in Serie A with Napoli, while Sergio Aguero has been crucial for Man City in helping them to win the Premier League title but only when he has been fit. Aguero has had a number of muscle problems this season which would be a worry but if the three of them can arrive fit and healthy, Argentina’s wait for World Cup success could be over.

On the face of it, the draw has been kind to Argentina with Messi and Co drawn in Group F along with Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria. That is about as good as it gets at a Major tournament and if they do, as expected, win their pool, they are likely to face a second round tie against either Switzerland or Ecuador who are expected to be fighting it out with France in Group E. Brazil are likely to be on the other side of the draw assuming they win their group and while every game is difficult at a World Cup, Argentina can have no complaints when it comes to their path through to the latter stages of the tournament.

Other key members of the Argentina squad during the World Cup will be Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria, Javier Mascherano of Barcelona and Pablo Zabaleta of Man City who will be crucial at right-back. The defence is a slight worry for backers of Argentina with so much attacking flair almost certain to leave them a little bit short at the back which is something they will surely be guarding against. Ezequiel Garay of Benfica could be an important player with the Portuguese side currently enjoying a great run of form sweeping all before them on a domestic and a European level. He will need to transfer that form to the International stage but there is no doubt that Garay will be high on confidence after a terrific season and is likely to be a key man for Argentina in central defence.

If Messia and Aguero arrive in Brazil fit and firing then Argentina could well be major players when it comes to lifting the trophy in July which is clearly reflected in their position towards the head of the World Cup outright market. The only criticism of Messi during his career has perhaps been his performances on the International stage but this World Cup is the perfect opportunity to do put that right. He is already a hero in Argentina but if he can lead his country to World Cup glory for the first time in almost 30 years, he might just elevate himself to an even higher level matched only by the likes of Pele and Maradona. The worry for Argentina would be their recent World Cup record with the likes of Brazil, Spain and Germany perhaps made of sterner stuff when push comes to shove but it would be no surprise to see Argentina arrive to the semi-final stage at least this summer.

Jun 092014

Every international tournament springs surprises. We’ve seen it all from the Czech pair of Patrick Berger and Karel Poborsky lighting up Euro 96 before earning moves to English giants Liverpool and Manchester United respectively, El Hadji Diouf’s exciting displays in the 2002 World Cup earning him a move to Liverpool and even Mesut Ozil’s creative masterclass in South Africa four years ago just prior to signing for Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid.

With this in mind we are likely to see players having similar breakout tournaments in Brazil this summer. Here are five players to watch throughout the World Cup who could take the tournament by storm:

1, Lorenzo Insigne – Winger – 22 – Italy

Italy have come a long way since the hugely disappointing World Cup campaign in 2010. After having failed to progress past the Group Stage, Italy turned to Cesare Prandelli, a coach renowned for his methodical approach to balancing squad morale with discipline, and the results have been fantastic.

Italy have integrated young talent into the team whilst keeping a core of experienced players in key positions and success on the pitch has followed. Italy are the only team to have figured out a repeatedly successful manner of playing against Vicente del Bosque’s Spain side whilst remaining a threat on the attack at the same time. This has been possible through the use of exciting individual players such as Mario Balotelli and Emanuele Giaccherini.

Giaccherini however has fallen slightly out of favour following a difficult year at Sunderland and considering Lorenzo Insigne’s outstanding displays for Napoli it has become impossible for Prandelli to hold him back. Insigne has impressed a domestic Italian audience for the last two seasons now. Usually situated on the left wing but with the ability to play either on the right or as a shadow striker, Insigne has really taken his game to the next level this season.

He is quick and exciting on the ball. Whilst impossible to predict just what he will do next you can be sure Insigne is one or two moves ahead of his opponent. His footwork is remarkably similar to that of Arjen Robben, as is his low centre of gravity which allows him to escape challenges and find space when cutting inside from the flanks. The conditions in Brazil will see players tire more quickly and this serves as a further advantage to Insigne.

With Ciro Immobile and Mario Balotelli likely to be battling to be Italy’s first choice striker for the tournament it is likely Insigne will slip under the radar. That is until the tournament starts. The winger who will be twenty three by the time Italy take on England on June 14th is only going to get better and on his first experience of the international stage, you can fully expect him to be a shining creative spark throughout the tournament.

2, Son Heung-min – Winger – 21 – South Korea

Son Heung-min is another exciting young winger heading to Brazil this summer. Having made his breakthrough in Europe with Hamburg it became clear last summer that he had outgrown the struggling club. A move to German giants Bayer Leverkusen has simply served as the catalyst for a huge improvement in consistent displays of quality.

It seemed that whilst it was clear the talent Son had at his disposal, playing with a better team was all that was needed to truly unlock his full potential. The South Korean winger who doubles up as a second striker has enjoyed a fantastic debut campaign with Leverkusen scoring twelve goals in all competitions whilst contributing seven assists.

One of Son’s best attributes is his ability to play with both feet. In the past you have seen wingers excel on one particular flank but have flattered to deceive when shown onto their weaker side. Heung-Min is not such a player. It is believed he is naturally right footed although if you have seen much of his season with Leverkusen you would be forgiven for not being one hundred percent sure. It is this versatility that allows him to be so effective when playing just off a long frontman, almost as a second striker.

Son can pick the ball up in pockets of space and truly dictate how Leverkusen attack. With Leverkusen boasting Sidney Sam as the first choice wide player this term it has been difficult for Son to play in his natural position. However the decision to move him into the secondary striker’s role has been a masterstroke.

For South Korea Son is now very much the main man. Having taken the mantle from the recently retired Park Ji Sung it is Son who carries the hopes of the nation on his shoulders this summer. It is likely Son will return to his preferred position on the wing for the national team this summer and will be a real danger when in possession of the ball because of the option to either play a reverse pass in behind, cut in and shoot or even carry on down the flank before putting a cross in, such is the variety in Son’s game.

The current crop of South Korean footballers is in fairness not at the high level of years gone by and the team may well struggle in Brazil but with Son Heung-min in the team there is real potential for attacking quality.

3, Carlos Bacca – Striker – 27 – Colombia

At twenty seven years old this is perhaps a surprise inclusion however Carlos Bacca’s performances at Sevilla this season had propelled him into the limelight and the battering ram of a centre forward could play a huge part in Colombia’s plans at the World Cup.

Having played in Colombia for most of his career, Bacca finally made the risky move to Europe at the half way point of the 2011-2012 campaign when the Colombian forward signed for Club Brugge of Belgium. What came next was thirty one goals in all competitions over the next season and half however it must be noticed twenty nine of them came in the 2012-2013 campaign once Bacca had found his feet on the continent.

This form earned him a move to Sevilla. Admittedly the club’s interested stemmed from the fact they didn’t have much money to play with, despite the sales of Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo. Neither the club nor Bacca has looked back since. Bacca has been a revelation with the powerful striker netting fourteen La Liga goals and five Europa League goals en route to winning the competition.

Standing at just under six foot Bacca is the archetypal hard working striker. Think Carlos Tevez but with the technical ability to match. One of the most surprising revelations as the season progressed was just how talented a footballer Carlos Bacca is. His hardworking on pitch persona combined with physical stature often meant the clever touches and off the ball runs went unnoticed. However this wasn’t the case in the second half of the season with the eyes of Europe admiring as Sevilla reached another European final.

Bacca was key, not only in his goalscoring but in his overall linkup play and the hole left by Alvaro Negredo lessened each week. Bacca was always an option for Ivan Rakitic to play the ball into with the Croatian safe in the knowledge his teammate would hold the ball up and allow for the wide players to catch up to the move hence why Sevilla were such an attractive attacking force this term.

Bacca, in terms of the national team, has struggled simply due to the fact there is a certain Radamel Falcao in front of him. However with Falcao still fighting to make the World Cup after an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury suffered in January there is a real chance Bacca will play a starring role for Los Cafeteros.

4, Ricardo Rodríguez – Full-Back – 21 – Switzerland

At a time when top quality full-backs are a rarity Switzerland’s Ricardo Rodríguez has the potential to truly catch the eye in Brazil this summer. Having joined Wolfsburg in January 2012 the former FC Zurich defender has been a revelation.

The Swiss international is a well rounded full-back. Not only is he fantastic at going forward and supplementing attacking moves but the defensive side of his game has not suffered as a result. Rodríguez’s tackling is noted as a particular strong point amongst Wolfsburg supporters.

Physically Ricardo Rodríguez is also a handful. Standing just under six foot he is incredibly difficult to dispossess when on the ball. The closest player I can liken him to physically is Liverpool’s Jose Enrique. This is what makes him such a rounded player. He excels defensively through this use of his physical stature and innate tackling ability whilst able to retain possession when going on one of his frequent marauding runs down the left flank.

Rodríguez does have the ability to switch flanks and play on the right if needs be but seldom does this happen both for club and country.

For a full-back Ricardo Rodríguez’s numbers for the 2013-2014 campaign are tremendous. In thirty four Bundesliga matches the Swiss full-back scored five goals and added nine assists with ‘WhoScored‘ giving him an average rating of 8.02 for the season.

At just twenty one his potential for further development is exciting. The World Cup is the grand stage a player can use to really catch the eye and whilst being a defender is not usually a position which grabs headlines, Ricardo Rodríguez is an exception to the rule.

Switzerland are fortunate that arguably their finest crop of young players for generations is being guided by the vastly experienced Ottmar Hitzfeld. The Swiss team heading to Brazil, whilst very young, is also equally as exciting and Ricardo Rodríguez is just one of the players who could really catch the eye in Group E.

5, William Carvalho – Defensive Midfielder – 22 – Portugal

Arguably the most interesting name on this list for Manchester United supporters is Portugal’s twenty two year old midfielder William Carvalho. Although speculation linking the Sporting Lisbon player to Old Trafford has cooled significantly since David Moyes’ departure there is still interest in the player’s performances from supporters, even if just to see in effect what they could have had.

Carvalho is one of the more physically domineering members of Paulo Bento’s squad headed to the World Cup, standing at 6.1 feet tall Carvalho has the energy to really emphasise his physical advantage over many opponents.

One of the key components of Carvalho’s game is breaking up opposition attacks. Being such a physically domineering player that is not too difficult for him to do however it is his ability to cover ground quickly which is so impressive. Of course he is not at say for example the speed of Arjen Robben but by holding midfielder standards it is a trait which sets him apart from other players.

Manchester United have been searching for a central midfielder who can break up play since the departure of Roy Keane. Owen Hargreaves did provide significant rest bite on that front but his struggles with injuries meant the club never had the stability on the defensive side of midfield. Even if the move is probably not likely to happen this summer you do feel as though Carvalho would add a lot to United’s ailing midfield.

Carvalho has been the standout performer of Sporting Lisbon’s excellent season which has seen the club return to the Champions League once more. It has been said that Carvalho needs to move to a more competitive league to truly show his ability however whilst that is not the case, the World Cup in Brazil is highest stage of them all.

Portugal have been placed in Group G along with Germany, Ghana and the United States. These are all teams which boast quick attacking players. The counter attack is a threat Portugal have been susceptible to in the past, and will come up against this summer. However with Carvalho in place as a holding midfielder the extra protection for the back four is there. Whilst it might not be the clearest position to impress in, the holding midfield role is vitally important in a game where speed is such an advantage. Carvalho might not take the limelight like Cristiano Ronaldo will this summer but Portugal’s chance of success does rest heavily on the twenty two year old.