With the World Cup just days away, let’s take a look at some of the players who can get hot and help their team go on a magical run during the tournament. Of course, this would mean that you should also consider laying a little something on their teams in hopes of striking it big and walking away with a nice chunk of change.
Lionel Messi, Argentina – Many consider Messi one of the greatest soccer players of all-time, and he’s really just beginning his career at the young age of 26. He holds several career records and has scored 354 club goals. The one thing Messi hasn’t done yet is get past the quarterfinals in the World Cup. When you have a player this explosive and able to take over a game, Argentina will have a shot in any game throughout the tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal – If Messi is the best in the world, Ronaldo is a close second. In fact, some would say Ronaldo is the true No. 1. Ronaldo enters the World Cup a little banged up, but he’s expected to give it a go and possible lead Portugal out of the Group of Death. It won’t be easy, but Ronaldo has scored no less than 51 goals in his last four seasons with Real Madrid, and like Messi, he can get hot and lead his team to victory at any moment.
Neymar, Brazil – There’s going to be a lot on pressure on Brazil to win it all given the fact they’re hosting the World Cup. If the favorite is going to win it all this year, Neymar will have to play his part. Not the biggest player in the world at 5’9”, but Neymar is one of the fastest and quickest players in the tournament. Neymar is extremely explosive. He did tweak his ankle during a Brazil practice, but he’s expected to be fine for the tournament.
Clint Dempsey, USA – If the Americans are going to have any shot of making it out of the Group of Death, it’s going to start with terrific play from Dempsey. One of the leaders at 31 years old on this young squad, Dempsey has 36 international goals in his career and has been widely considered one of the best players in Major League Soccer. With no Landon Donovan to lean on, Dempsey will now be the go-to guy and must make big plays for the U.S to have any shot of surprising folks this year.
Mario Balotelli, Italy – Not the most disciplined player in the tournament, but you’d be hard pressed to find 10 players more talented than Balotelli. A terrific finisher, passer and one of the most powerful players you’ll find, Balotelli has all of the tools to be an elite player and help Italy make a strong World Cup run. Then again, he also sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him and can be taken out of the game at times. Still, watch out if Balotelli decides to show up and leaves his antics back at home.