Who Will Star at the World Cup and Earn the Golden Ball?
At every World Cup of soccer there is always that one incredible player who hits a hot streak of form and steals the show. At South Africa 2010 it was Diego Forlan, whose long range blasts and overall command of the game was simply astounding. 4 years earlier at Germany 2006 it was Zinedine Zidane who used maturity and great vision to help lead France all the way to the Final! With so many great stars present at this upcoming Brazil 2014 World Cup, who looks most likely to become the hero for their country?
Predicting who will shine at a World Cup is all about seeing who hits top form as the domestic clubs seasons wind down in the coming months. Two competitions to pay especially close attention to are the Europa League and the UEFA Champions League. By April and May these competitions are in their latter stages and the matches bring about a high intensity similar to that of the World Cup.
In 2010, Forlan scored several crucial goals for Atletico Madrid against Liverpool and Fulham to win the Europa League cup for his club. It was a marvelous display of individual talent! One month later he was making magic at the World Cup! So who should we expect to shine in Brazil?
Well there are several contenders, namely Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Diego Costa. Each player has that sensational world-class quality and has had remarkable seasons. Goals galore have come about when these guys take on weaker sides, and the all-important moment of brilliance have often helped their teams win the biggest of games. Ronaldo, Messi, Costa, and Neymar are all involved in the latter stages of the Champions League while Suarez has helped to fire Liverpool right back into the title race of the English Premier League. Therefore, each of these players has big moments in which to shine coming up.
Suarez makes for an incredible story considering he leads the EPL with goals scored with 25 despite a 6-week ban to start the season. In my mind he looks the most likely candidate to take over this World Cup and earn the Golden Ball (best player) or the Golden Boot (for most goals scored). Uruguay has a powerful striker force led by Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and Forlan. But he is the best of the lot and always looks “hungry”…for goals of course… Additionally, their team will be one of the South American “home” teams that are expected to do quite well at the tournament.
Such a home advantage should also work wonders for Messi and Neymar, whose strong seasons have largely flown under the radar due to Barcelona’s La Liga struggles in Spain.
Of course Ronaldo and Costa will have an opportunity to do well, but I suspect that their European international teams may not succeed across the Atlantic Ocean. However, since Portuguese is Brazil’s national language, I could be mistaken in Ronaldo’s case…
All in all, I think this will be the World Cup for Suarez to personally shine. He looks deadly every time he touches the ball, and he has the speed, strength, and instincts of a pure goal-scorer! But one thing to take note of in recent World Cup history, the last 4 Golden Ball winners have failed to hoist the cup! While Suarez does his mightiest, something tells me that the hosts, Brazil, should seal the deal!