Representing Algeria at this summer’s event, the tricky winger was one of few positives for Valencia this season, notching four goals and eight assists as Los Che stumbled to eight in the league. He will be hoping to carry the Algerians over the line in a competitive Group H where his country go head to head with South Korea and Russia as they attempt to progress to the last 16.
Viewers can expect an electric turn of pace, direct running and precision crossing from the 24 year old. If Algeria are to have a successful tournament, they will need the La Liga star to be on top form.
It’s not often you would expect the goalkeeper of a 2000/1 shot to shine, but I fully expect Keylor Navas to have an even bigger fan club after Costa Rica’s exit. The Levante shot stopper has been tipped for a move to a bigger club, including Atletico following his heroics in goals for the Valencia based club. The Costa Rican frustrated La Liga’s best players on various times this season and those expecting Costa Rica to be on the end of three hammering’s will need to re-consider once they see his ability. Renowned for his shot stopping, agility and reflexes, Navas will be hoping to give Costa Ricans a reason to smile this summer.
Although he’s not the least known player around, I simply had to use this opportunity to glow about Seville’s talisman. This season, the Croatian delivered on the potential we all knew he had. Absolutely outstanding in Seville’s Europa League success and fifth place finish in La Liga, big things beckon for the play maker. A move to one of La Liga’s big three is definitely on the cards should he impress at the tournament. Rakitic is often praised on Twitter, or by pundits, but every plaudit thrown at him doesn’t do him justice.
His passing and vision are second to none, while his knack of finding a pocket of space wherever he isallows him to utilize them appropriately. He would improve every side at the tournament and those who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing him regularly are in for a treat. Alongside Luka Modric, Rakitic will be hoping to fire the Croatians into the last 16, and possibly further.
Giovani Dos Santos
Anyone who has watched tournament football in their lives will know this name. Dos Santos has lit up every major tournament he has been involved in, and was beaten to the Young Player of the Tournament award by only Thomas Muller in 2010. One slight difference this year however, is that Dos Santos comes into the competition in the form of his life, having lit up La Liga with his pace, trickery and vision. He was a key member of the Villarreal team that pushed all season for the fourth Champions League spot, clocking up 11 league goals and 8 assists in the process. Mexico will be relying on him to overturn their poor recent form and lead their surge in to the last 16.
Following Radamel Falcao’s omission from the Colombia squad, Carlos Bacca’s form gives him a strong claim to be his replacement in the starting 11. The striker found the back of the net 21 times in his debut season with Seville, firing the Andalucians to the Europa League title in the process. The Colombian is an adept finisher with both feet, makes intelligent runs, and boasts a broad build coupled with a sharp turn of pace. Should he get the nod over Porto’s Jackson Martinez, he has the ability to make Colombian fans forget all about El Tigre.