There are eleven players in a soccer team, and it’s very much a team sport. One slack play from an undisciplined player could spell the difference between winning or losing. In the same token, one moment of creativity or inspiration from a player can spur a team on to victory. Here are ten players in the 2014 World Cup that constantly bring inspiration and passion to the soccer field and earn valuable victories for their teams.
Arjen Robben – Netherlands
Holland is highly considered as one of the favorites to win the current World Cup soccer competition this year. After all, they took the second place four years ago. The Dutch team started this year’s campaign in royal fashion by dealing Spain a hefty 5-1 thrashing and sending them back to Spain. Even though their team has several deadly players including the goal-seeking sniper Robin Van Persie, the fleet-footed player is definitely the talisman of the team. He’s characterized as an attacking winger – but he’s so much more. He has immense dribbling ability, he can spot the most complex passes and execute to perfection, and he’s not shy when it comes to scoring goals either. He plays his club football for Bayern Munich, and he is a bona fide star in the world of soccer.
Neymar – Brazil
22-yr-old Neymar is definitely one of the top 3 players in the world today. At the age of 19, he was already voted best South American footballer of the year. He repeated that amazing feat by winning that same honor the year after in 2012. Quite simply, this svelte player from Brazil is a complete soccer wizard. It’s amazing to think that someone so young has a game as complete and refined as Neymar. When you watch him attack a defense, it’s like beholding a hot knife cut through butter. Even though the Brazilian team has so many talented players, whenever he’s on the field, there is an electric energy that pulsates through the fans and his fellow players. He is truly a special talent.
Lionel Messi – Argentina
If there was any such thing in sports as a player who was a national treasure in two countries, then that would be the 26-yr-old Lionel Messi. Originally from Rosario, Argentina, this football prodigy was signed to the Barcelona football academy at the young age of 11. Even at that age, it was apparent that he would be headed to soccer stardom. Messi is somewhat of a cult symbol in the realm of soccer – something similar to what Michael Jordan was to basketball at the height of his career. In Barcelona, he’s revered as a football Messiah, and even though the Argentinian national team is full of stars like Angel di Maria and Sergio Aguero, Messi is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the squad. He’s just 26-yrs-old so there are many more of years of greatness to come from him.
Luis Suarez – Uruguay
Whereas other players might rely on slick moves, gazelle-like dribbling and flawless footwork, Suarez of Uruguay makes results happen with sheer determination, grit and brute power. He plays his club football for Liverpool, and every weekend he showcases his raw passion and drive on the soccer field. When he plays for his country, he shows even more dedication and puts everything he has on the line. That’s what he did in Uruguay’s second game of the 2014 World Cup. He dashed England’s dreams of moving forward to the next round with two awesome goals. Suarez may be prone to one or two moments of madness, but he makes up for it with his goal scoring prowess and indomitable desire. One last thing: someone please get him off the Paleo Diet; why does he keep biting defenders?
Andrea Pirlo – Italy
Even though the Italian soccer team has blazing young guns like the 21-yr-old Marco Verratti and the 23-yr-old Mario Balotelli, the player that really steers their team towards victory is the field general Andrea Pirlo. He’s currently 35 years old and he has been playing for the Italian national team since 2002. There’s a strong argument that there’s no one else playing the game right now who can marshal the entire playing field with Pirlo’s vision and accuracy. Actually, his team mates have nicknamed him “l’architetto” (meaning the architect) for how he’s able to telegraph long distance passes and formulate inventive plays that usually end up in goals. Pirlo is certainly several notches above the rest and he seems to be only getting better with time.
Thomas Muller – Germany
The German national squad has won the World Cup 3 times, and it’s no fluke. Their team is really that good. The thing that sets the German soccer players apart from any other country is how precise and superbly disciplined they are as a team. Germans, in general, have a reputation of being very strict and efficient people, and it seems that this trait also applies to their national team. One of the lightning rods in the new generation of German soccer is the superb striker Thomas Muller. He was introduced to the world stage during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and he scored five goals. He was named Best Young Player of the tournament and he’s looking to make a similar impression in Brazil this summer.
Karim Benzema – France
The French team has a knack for creating mercurial yet superbly skilled players. One French player who produces sterling performances when he wants to is Karim Benzema. He plays his football for Real Madrid in the Spanish league and there, he has to share the spotlight with other world stars like Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. But when he plays for his country, the spotlight shines squarely on him. He has already shown in the first few games of this year’s tournament that he means business by scoring a bunch of goals against both Honduras and Switzerland.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal
When it comes to global superstars in soccer with real Hollywood appeal, there’s no one bigger than the handsome and supremely talented Cristiano Ronaldo. Not only is he blessed with striking good looks, he has a precision-sculpted physique and is a wonder to watch on the playing pitch. He plays his club football for Real Madrid in Spain where he is surrounded by other major stars like Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema – but his star power easily outshines these marquee players. He’s easily the biggest star on the Portuguese soccer team and his mesmerizing influence is evident whenever he touches the ball. Even when the odds are totally against them, he usually finds a way, as he showed in the recent game against the USA. In the last few seconds of the game, he delivered a crisp, penetrating pass that allowed his teammate to equalize the game. He’s one special player and he certainly deserves all the accolades and big money he earns.
Didier Drogba: Ivory Coast
For all avid watchers of the English Premier League, no introduction is needed for Ivory Coast footballer Didier Drogba. From 2004 to 2012, he was the powerful striker for Chelsea that scored all kinds of miraculous goals and helped win major championships for the club. Even though he is now 36-yrs-old and his career is in its twilight, there is still such a forceful presence about Drogba. This was exemplified when he came into the game against Japan during this World Cup with his country down a goal. Even though he didn’t score, he brought energy and inspiration to his fellow Ivorian players and spurred them to a 2-1 victory. Even though the Ivory Coast team is full of younger stars like Wilfred Bonnie and Yaya Toure, Drogba is still a game changer in every sense of the word.
Guillermo Ochoa – Mexico
To round out this list, we have a very skilled goalkeeper from Mexico. His name is Guillermo Ochoa and the 28-yr-old goalie is really showing that he is a force to be reckoned with. In the first of Mexico’s World Cup games this summer, he kept a clean sheet against Cameroon – he did the same in the second match against Brazil (which is no small feat at all). His performance in the latter game was brilliant and Ochoa might just be able to carry his country on his back and lead them to a very successful World Cup campaign.