The greatest sporting event in the history of the planet is finally back. The 2014 FIFA World Cup heads back to Brazil, the most successful host country in the tournament’s history who is hoping to win their sixth trophy. Occurring every four years, the World Cup brings the entire planet together as one as the only true way to declare a “world champion.”
The World Cup has brought the globe together with more success than any bureaucrat ever could. Opposing factions of the civil war in the Ivory Coast agreed to a ceasefire when their nation qualified for their first World Cup tournament in 2006. Once mortal enemies, South Korea and Japan successfully co-hosted the 2002 tournament despite their bloody history. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Israel and Palestine find peace through soccer, or even North and South Korea.
For most Americans, the next 31 days will be the only time in the next four years our nation will remotely care about soccer. We tend to forget that the sport is more about the flow of the game rather than the numbers on the scoreboard and what a player does without the ball can be equally as important as what he can do with it. I’ll be the first to admit that soccer can be boring; but when at it’s best, it stays true to its name as “the beautiful game.”
There are 736 players representing the 32 teams at this year’s World Cup. Some of them will be more exciting to watch than others, while others will surprise many who love the sport. Team by team, there will be at least one player from each of them who will leave you mesmerized. Arranged by group and order of appearance, below is a closer examination of a player from each nation you need to pay attention to over the duration of the tournament.