You football nuts out there will have heard of these lot (or played with them one time in a FIFA career) but for those of you who are excited for the World Cup but perhaps don’t have the knowledge to keep up with your mates, bringing a few these relatively unknown gems into the conversation will impress them no end.
Set to star in Brazil this summer, here’s my picks for the best team you’ve never heard of:
GK – Fernando Muslera, Uruguay
With over 100 appearances for Galatasaray to his name this South American goalkeeper has been a big hit in Turkey and will be doing his best to prevent England making it out of the group when the two sides meet.
RB – Serge Aurier, Ivory Coast
Currently plying his trade in France and seen as Arsenal’s replacement for Bacary Sagna, Aurier has bags of pace, power and defensive capability. At only 21 he’s certainly one to keep an eye on in Brazil.
CB – Joël Matip, Cameroon
Schalke’s standout defender this season, Matip will be heading to Rio full of confidence. Keeping the likes of Neymar and Mandzukic at bay is never easy but Matip will no doubt be up for the challenge. Massive potential.
CB – Matthias Ginter, Germany
With the likes of Hummels, Boateng and Mertesacker ahead of him in the pecking order, game time may be hard to come by but at just 20 years of age his mere inclusion in the prestigious German squad tells you all you need to know.
LB – Ricardo Rodríguez, Switzerland
Certainly one to watch out for, the Wolfsburg man is defensively sound and causes havoc going forward. I expect the Swiss full-back to be a big hit in this summer’s competition and show everyone what he’s capable of. Rising star.
RM – Shinji Okazaki, Japan
Playing in the Bundesliga for Mainz at the age of 28, Okazaki is a set-piece specialist and a clinical finisher who’s set to have a big impact from the right hand side for Japan. He’s a crucial player for the Japanese.
CM – Mateo Kovacic, Croatia
Bought by Inter Milan last summer for around £12 million, the young Croat is a fantastic dribbler and lovely passer of the ball. Likely to sit in a three-man midfield with stars Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, I doubt Mateo will look out of place. Classy player.
CM – William Carvalho, Portugal
In my opinion the best of the lot. He is the anchor of the Portuguese midfield and does it with ease, linked with a big money move to Manchester United this summer, the current Sporting Lisbon prodigy has got all the assets needed to be a future world class talent and could be a key player for Portugal in Brazil.
LM – Memphis Depay, Holland
Could surprise a few for the Dutch this summer; fast, very good dribbler and loves a long shot. With all eyes firmly on Arjen Robben, the PSV man has the potential to shine in an attacking Netherlands side.
ST – Josip Drmic, Switzerland
Having recently agreed a move to Bayern Leverkusen this guy is your classic ‘fox in the box’ and could score some crucial goals for the Swiss in the tournament.
ST – Carlos Bacca, Colombia
Netting 18 times this season and helping guide Spanish club side Sevilla to the Europa League title, Bacca and compatriot Jackson Martinez will be more than ready to step up and fill the void left by their star man Falcao.