Five players to watch in World Cup Group B

10 June 2014 01:31

Five key players in World Cup Group B:

Sergio Ramos - Spain

Born: 30/03/1980 - 115 caps

The World Cup has really got under Sergio Ramos's skin - literally. Real Madrid's defender has the World Cup tattooed on his right calf - and the Champions League - his goal sent last month's final into extra-time - on his left.

A product of Sevilla's youth academy, he is only 28 but already is a world champion, a double European champion, and now a Champions League winner. Any more success and he will need extra limbs for his questionable body art.

A bullfighting afficionado - he has celebrated victories with a matador's cape - Ramos, although a defensive kingpin, is adept at running rings round defences, as Group B rivals Netherlands and Australia are about to discover.

Fernando Torres - Spain

Born: 20/03/1984 - 107 caps

Spain's third highest goalscorer, man of the match and scorer of the only goal in the 2008 European Championship final against Germany, and on the mark again in the Euro 2012 final, Fernando Torres' international credentials were rock solid. Yet the 30-year-old only played a bit part in Spain's 2010 World Cup success, and was left out in the international cold for 11 months from the 2013 Confedereations Cup, as his form dipped alarmingly with Chelsea who paid a reported 50 million euros for him.

But with Diego Costa under an injury cloud, Spain need Torres at his deadly best in Brazil. He described his La Roja return as "a spectacular prize" - "I feel good, very strong in my last games so we will have to see if that carries," he says.

Alexis Sanchez - Chile

Born: 19/12/1988 - 65 caps

Barcelona's top drawer winger Alexis Sanchez, who in another life washed cars to put food in his mouth, arrives at his second World Cup with his football star shining bright and Manchester United, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain jostling to secure his services.

Sanchez, whose silky skills England rattled in a Wembley friendly last year, has a street named in his honour in his hometown of Tocopilla.

The 25-year-old, who looks to have overcome a late shoulder injury scare, burst onto the international scene at the 2010 World Cup, his nose for a goal a key component in Chile's armour to deflect opposing flak.

Mile Jedinak - Australia

Born: 03/08/1984 - 43 caps

From filing papers in his uncle's Sydney office, to captaining Crystal Palace in the Premier League, combative midfielder Mile Jedinak has enjoyed a remarkable rise from humble beginnings.

Now his sterling work as Palace skipper has earned the 29-year-old the Australia captaincy ahead of Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano, veterans of Australia's last three World Cups.

He will be leading the lowest ranked team in Brazil into battle against world champions Spain, Netherlands and Chile. Irrespective of how he fares in Brazil his reputation as a fans' favourite at Selhurst Park is assured after his 89th minute goal on the final day of the 2012/13 season earned Palace, then in the Championship, a place in the play-offs and a route to the fast lane of English football.

Robin van Persie - Netherlands

Born: 06/08/1983 - 85 caps

Luckily for the Dutch, Robin van Persie chose to ignore his artist parents' advice to follow their example and take up a paintbrush and easel. The world-class forward arrives in Brazil ready to wreak havoc after a "complicated" injury-hit season at Manchester United.

He emerged from European qualifying as top scorer with 11 goals, and captains the Dutch after coach Louis van Gaal's change of heart. Holland's all time top scorer he failed to leave a mark at the 2010 World Cup, mustering just one goal despite Holland making it to the final. Arriving at United after becoming a fan's favourite at Arsenal he is the Premier League's tenth highest scorer of all time. Now is the time for him to light up the international stage.

Source: AFP