Unknown Stars Discovered In Brazil

Who have been the over-achievers in Brazil? Source: vidzshare.net

Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo - they’re all superstars you expect to shine on football’s biggest stage, but there have been a handful of names we’ve never heard of that are taking the World Cup by storm. We often see some of the lower ranked sides shock footballing giants, and that comes down to the sheer brilliance of unsung individuals. So, who are the players on everyone’s lips?



James Rodriguez

Colombia Flag

Age: 22

Club: AS Monaco

Position: Midfielder

Goals: 5

Assists: 2


Photo of James Rodriguez
Image courtesy of: theepochtimes.com

With no Rademal Falcao in the Colombian squad, a spot has opened up for someone to be their hero. James Rodriguez has pounced on that opportunity. The midfielder plays alongside national teammate Falcao at AS Monaco, and given the way he has performed in Brazil, he might have taken just a tip or two from him. Rodriguez has benefited from Colombia’s free-flowing style of football, scoring a handful of goals, including what must be the goal of the tournament. There has been some debate of how to pronounce his name, some say “Ha-mes” while others say “Ya-mes”. One thing they aren’t doubting is his skill with the round ball, and at just 22, the kid has a bright future, and potential golden ball winner.

 



Guillermo Ochoa

Mexico Flag

Age: 28

Club: Nil

Position: Goalkeeper

Clean sheets: 2

Saves: 17


Photo of Guillermo Ochoa
Image courtesy of: time.com

Most of the praise in football is given to strikers and midfielders, so it’s somewhat surprising to see a goalkeeper in the mix. Mexican custodian Guillermo Ochoa captured countless eyes in football after a string of world class saves denied Neymar and co in a 0-0 Group A stalemate. Mexico were one of just three teams to concede a single goal in the group stages, and that was largely due to Ochoa’s heroics. Unfortunately his heroics were cut short after the Netherlands staged a late comeback to beat Mexico 2-1 and knock Miguel Herrera’s men out of the tournament. The 28-year-old goalkeeper is surprisingly clubless – though that is certain to change in the coming months.

 



Xherdan Shaqiri


Age: 22

Club: Bayern Munich

Position: Midfielder

Goals: 3

Assists: 0


Photo of Xherdan Shaqiri
Image courtesy of: zimbio.com

Featuring regularly in the Bayern Munich midfield, Xherdan Shaqiri has flown under the radar and played the role as the quiet achiever in a highly successful club in recent years. Playing alongside household names such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze, it’s no wonder he's been left in the shadows. Playing for Switzerland in Brazil, the short and agile playmaker has been able to call the shots and pull the strings for his side. He hit headlines and captured the attention from the footballing world when he netted a hat-trick against Honduras in the Group E clash. At the same young age as fellow rising star James Rodriguez, it appears Shaqiri’s career is set to blossom. 

 



Matthew Leckie

Australian Flag

Age: 23

Club: FSV Frankfurt

Position: Midfielder

Goals: 0

Assists: 0


Photo of Matthew Leckie
Image courtesy of: abc.net.eu

With such a youthful side, surely an Australian player was to feature somewhere on this list. Playing club football in Germany’s second division with FSV Frankfurt, Matthew Leckie has attracted attention from scouts over the world after his display in group B. The 23-year-old showed his electrifying pace down the right wing, and his ability to deliver a pin-point accurate cross is second to none. With just eight national caps prior to the World Cup, there was little known of the former Adelaide United man. Even though he left Brazil with no assists or goals, he looks certain to have cemented a spot in Ange Postecoglou’s starting eleven, and reports suggests he now has a price tag of $10 million. 

 



Guillermo Cuadrado

Colombia Flag

Age: 22

Club: Fiorentina

Position: Midfielder

Goals: 1

Assists: 4


Photo of Guillermo Cuadrado
Image courtesy of: zimbio.com

With Colombia’s success raising eyebrows around the world, it’s not much of a surprise to see another Colombian on the list, and this time it’s Juan Guillermo Cuadrado. If you’ve seen him before, it would have been in the all purple kit of Italian Serie A outfit Fiorentina. With an astounding four assists and one goal in Colombia’s opening four matches, Cuadrado has been involved in just about everything for his side. The skilful midfielder has both the strength and pace to get around players, making him the ultimate nightmare for defenders. 

 



Keylor Navas

Costa Rica Flag

Age: 27

Club: Levante

Position: Goal Keeper

Clean Sheets: 2

Saves: 20


Photo of Keylor Navas
Image courtesy of: smh.com.au

Although this World Cup has been one of the highest scoring in the tournament’s history, another goalkeeper has been exceptional. Keylor Navas has been a large reason why Costa Rica has received the reputation as the tournament’s “Giant Killers”. After being labelled as easy beats in the World Cup's group of death, the South Americans went on to see off challenges from Uruguay and Italy, and hold England scoreless in a 0-0 draw. Navas was the hero in Costa Rica’s round of 16 elimination match with Greece, making several saves, including a one in the penalty shootout which saw his side qualify.

 


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