THE LIST: Sportsmail's 50 players to watch at the World Cup - Nos 30-21

11 June 2010 01:40
        HAVE YOUR SAY.     Who will light up the World Cup? Plenty of superstars on show in South Africa play or have played in the Barclays Premier League - so we know what to expect from the likes of Rooney and Ronaldo. But, as a special treat, we've picked out the ones to watch who have never starred in the English top flight. TELL US WHAT YOU THINK Who will write their name into World Cup history this summer?

Sportsmail gazes into the crystal ball for this week's edition of The List.

We're counting down the top 50 players who we reckon could play a blinder in South Africa and join the icons of all time, which we charted last week.

There are the veterans getting one last shot at finals immortality and teenagers hoping to get on the pitch to announce themselves on the big stage.

There are those who need a big tournament after a poor domestic season and countless more who will be looking for a big move off the back of their exploits.

THE REST OF THE LISTReadNos 50-41ReadNos 30-21ReadNos 40-31ReadNos 20-11ReadNos 10-1There is just one rule for our List: none of these players has plied his trade in the Barclays Premier League. Sorry, Cristiano.

We figure you probably know those guys well enough already (though you'll probably know our No 1 quite well too!).

As ever, we want to know what you think. So join the debate on our message boards or by adding your comments at the bottom of the article as we reveal 10 icons each day this week till our No 1 emerges on Friday.


Chilean red: Matias Fernandez

30) Matias Fernandez (Chile)Forget Dunga's cautious Brazil and Diego Maradona's chaotic Argentina, Chile are likely to be the most exciting and attack-minded South American side in South Africa.

Playmaker Fernandez typifies their approach by running at defenders from midfield and also taking many of his side's free-kicks.

The 24-year-old is a different player when he pulls on the national jersey, having struggled to impress for either Villarreal or Sporting Lisbon since moving to Europe as a South American player of the year.

Prediction: The world will fall in love with Marcelo Bielsa's expansive side this summer, cheering them on to inevitable but valiant second-round defeat by Brazil - and Fernandez will regain his reputation in the process.

29) Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)Forget the midget who played in goal against England at Wembley last month, Mexico's genuine No 1 actually reaches 6ft and is arguably the best goalkeeper outside Europe.

Playing for Club America in Mexico, Ochoa was nominated among the 30 best players in the world for the Ballon d'Or in 2008. 

Prediction: Ochoa may look like he's growing a Rene Higuita perm, but in South Africa he'll forge a reputation for reliability rather than unpredictability. A long-mooted move to Europe is on the cards.

Perm-anent fixture: Ochoa

Green meanie: Stephane Mbia

28) Stephane Mbia (Cameroon)The 24-year-old centre half has caught the eye of Arsenal, Bayern Munich and AC Milan after impressing at the heart of Marseille's Ligue 1-winning defence this season.

It's only a year since the 6ft 3in rock moved from Rennes in a £10.5milion deal, but he could be off again thanks to a reported £16m release clause in his contract.

Prediction: The defender's biggest test in South Africa should come in the third Group E game against Holland. Impress against Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Co and that release clause is suddenly looking cheap.

27) Hugo Lloris (France) Les Bleus have suffered some unconvincing keepers in recent years and we're not just talking about Fabian Barthez. Gregory Coupet was the France No 1 at Euro 2008, conceding six in three group games and going home at the earliest opportunity.

But Lloris has since emerged as a steady pair of hands with both club Lyon and his country.

Prediction: The 23-year-old can't do it all himself in a fragile France side, but help his team through potential banana skins in Group A - which contains South Africa, Uruguay and Mexico - and those links to Manchester United and Juventus will come back.

Bonnes mains: France's in-demand No 1 Hugo Lloris prepares for the tournament

26) Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)A year ago few would hesitate in naming Toure among the finest combative midfielders in world football. A season on the fringes of the mighty Barcelona have seen both his reputation and his enthusiasm for Catalonia wane.

The Ivory Coast have all the right ingredients to be Africa's top performers this summer, though they do have a stinker of a group (Brazil, Portugal, North Korea) and Sven Goran Eriksson in charge.

Prediction: Toure will be bursting to go after a frustrating season at the Nou Camp, earning a move to the Barclays Premier League (assuming he hasn't already).

Chance to shine: Toure

Daddy's boy: Bradley

25) Michael Bradley (USA)It helps when your dad Bob is the boss, but Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder Bradley would have no problem getting into the USA side no matter who was on the bench.

The 22-year-old is one of the few non-goalkeeping Americans to prove a genuine success in Europe, first with Heerenveen before moving to the Bundesliga, winning admirers for his hard work and versatility in operating from box to box.

Prediction: Bradley will miss the final, just as with the 2008 Gold Cup and last year's Confederations Cup, but this time it won't be because of suspension.

24) Yoann Gourcuff (France)There has been a certain gallic flair about Gourcuff from the moment he burst on to the scene with Rennes as a 17-year-old.

Comparisons with Zinedine Zidane proved premature, however, and the attacking midfielder's rise threatened to be derailed by a move to AC Milan four years ago. Gourcuff failed to break through at the San Siro.

A return to Bordeaux, however, has got observers drooling again, particularly after a stunning goal against Paris Saint-Germain last year.

Prediction: Click with Franck Ribery and the forward line and France can achieve the kind of level at South Africa that their star-studded squad deserves. The 23-year-old will be watched closely by Arsenal fans wondering if he is the man to replace Cesc Fabregas.

New Cesc? France's Gourcuff

Blond ambition: Kjaer

23) Simon Kjaer (Denmark)The big blond Palermo centre half has burst on to the scene in the last 12 months, alerting scouts from across Europe and proving an able partner for Liverpool's Daniel Agger at international level.

Prediction: The 21-year-old goes to South Africa with his future uncertain, but will earn a move up barring disasters against tough customers from Holland, Cameroon and Japan in the group stage. He'd love to go to boyhood club Liverpool, but Tottenham, Manchester United and Juventus will have more financial muscle.

22) Alexis Sanchez (Chile)There was a time when the Udinese winger seemed to revel in being called Chile's answer to Cristiano Ronaldo and the comparisons were not lost on Sir Alex Ferguson when he was looking to replace the Real Madrid-bound star a year ago.

He wears the red No 7 at international level, loves a stepover and even had a Ronaldo haircut till a pre-tournament trip to the barber and now he is ready to forge a reputation of his own.

Prediction: Humberto Suazo, Sanchez's favourite target in the Chile attack, is looking increasingly unlikely to appear at the tournament this summer, putting the winger under even more pressure to perform. He can do it.

Alex kid: Super Sanchez

Perfect 10? Brazil's Kaka

21) Kaka (Brazil)If, as this List contends, Brazil are to win the World Cup next month, Kaka has to shine. He and Robinho will be the creative force in a safety-first side, meaning he must shake off his fitness and form problems.

Prediction: For all the difficulties of an uninspiring debut season at Real Madrid, Dunga has handed Kaka the No 10 shirt. Brazil don't do bad No 10s and this is when the 28-year-old will reintroduce himself to the world.

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Source: Daily_Mail