The stars who could rock the World Cup: 50-41

The Rio Report

View gallery

.

With just over a week to go until the start of the World Cup, we consulted our offices across Europe in order to compile a list of the 50 players to watch at Brazil 2014.

[BEST11: PICK YOUR WORLD CUP DREAM TEAM]

The list exhibits both talent fulfilled and potential untapped and includes at least one player from every nation.

So here, without further ado, are numbers 50 to 41.

50. Son Heung-min (South Korea)

The 21-year-old forward scored an impressive 10 goals in 31 Bundesliga games in his first season in a Bayer Leverkusen shirt following a club-record move from Hamburg last summer, and such has been his progression he has been linked with a move to Liverpool in recent months. The retirement of Park Ji-sung signalled South Korea's shift to a new generation, and Son is its most talented member.

49. Javad Nekounam (Iran)

View gallery

.

One of the most experienced Iranian players of all time, Nekounam is his country's captain and midfield heartbeat and has a deeply impressive 37 goals in 139 internationals. At 33 this is his final chance to star at a World Cup.

48. John Obi Mikel (Nigeria)

View gallery

.

Stop giggling at the back please. Yes, in a Chelsea shirt Mikel might be the sideways pass made flesh, but for his country he plays in the more adventurous role he was once earmarked for before he had the joy squeezed out of him at Stamford Bridge. In what could be a tough group against Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iran, Mikel needs to make the difference for his country - and we don't mean keeping his pass completion rate above 85%.

47. Madjid Bougherra (Algeria)

View gallery

.

Algeria were a rather joyless outfit four years ago and you feel that if they are to progress out of a group which also includes Belgium, Russia and South Korea, they will need to stifle teams again. Bougherra will be key to that endeavour, bringing a wealth of experience to the North African side.

46. Jerry Bengtson (Honduras)

View gallery

.

Though his club career with New England Revolution has been rather stop and start, Bengtson comes alive in a Honduras shirt and has 19 goals in 41 appearances for his country. Not a player whom France, Ecuador and Switzerland will take lightly.

45. Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica)

View gallery

.

Purveyor of the lazy but eloquent lob and the insouciant pass, Ruiz looked so relaxed at Fulham he gave the impression he was playing while lying in bed and watching a DVD. He was expelled on loan to PSV in January's cull of the luxury players, joining Dimitar Berbatov on the way out of Craven Cottage, but if anyone will make things happen for Costa Rica, it's him.

44. Giorgos Karagounis (Greece)

View gallery

.

He may be 37 but Karagounis plays like a player who is 10 years younger (well for an hour at least). The team unit is key for Greece and Karagounis has the knowledge and know-how to make sure everybody is doing their job properly. A key player in the team that shocked everybody at the 2004 European Championship he has gone on to win an astonishing 132 caps. His mere presence will help relax all his team-mates.

43. Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon)

View gallery

.

Jokes about his age aside, Eto'o showed in flashes during the Premier League season that he can still find the back of the net against quality opposition. He has scored 55 goals in 116 games for Cameroon and the Indomitable Lions will need his sharp shooting if they are to get out of a tough group. Eto'o is a free agent this summer and will look to show clubs that he's still worth a big pay packet.

42. Alexander Kerzhakov (Russia)

It seems like the Zenit striker has been around forever but he is still only 31. He is likely to play the role of 'super-sub' in Brazil, with Aleksandr Kokorin expected to start, and that should suit Kerzhakov perfectly. He is a master poacher when defences are tiring and scored the only goal off the bench in a recent friendly win over Slovakia.

41. Tim Cahill (Australia)

View gallery

.

Premier League fans know all about Tim Cahill, who could always pop up with a goal from midfield. Australia have a brutal draw with Spain, Netherlands and Chile, so will likely play a disciplined style and look to score from set-pieces where Cahill is particularly dangerous attacking crosses. He scored a trademark header against South Africa in a recent pre-tournament friendly and also scored for the New York Red Bulls in his last MLS game before joining up with the squad. An in-form Tim Cahill is a dangerous beast.

View Comments (6)
Fantasy Premier League