Why watch the World Cup? Because Ronaldo has great hair and will take off his shirt when he scores. Who else should you watch? I’ll tell you!
In this podcast, Steven highlights 5 players to watch for the 2014 World Cup!
Listen in and become an expert for those World Cup Watch Parties!
Welcome to the SteventheThorn Podcast! You’re listening to this podcast because I’m an authority on many things. Why am I an authority on many things? Because I have glasses and a beard.
In our last podcast, I continued a four-episode series on the Top 20 Things to Know About the 2014 World Cup. I gave some definitive answers to some of soccer’s most difficult questions:
Why soccer it called “soccer”?
What is handball?
What is offsides?
What are red and yellow cards?
What’s a group stage?
I’m going to give you 5 players to watch in this year’s tournament.
Player #1. Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Ronaldo is currently the most talented human being hitting a soccer ball on this planet. If you asked Ronaldo who the top 3 players in the world are, he would say, “Ronaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldo.” No one else comes close.
He plays his club football for Real Madrid, one of the best clubs in world history, and the current champions of Europe. In the 2013-2014 season, Ronaldo was the highest goalscorer in Spain. He has twice won the FIFA Ballon D’Or for best footballer in the world. He has appeared in four Champions League finals and won two. The list of his achievements goes on and on. Watch some of his goals on YouTube.
Why should you watch Ronaldo? He’s the best soccer player in the world. He’s also, unfortunately, going to play the United States in their second group game. Portugal is nothing special without Ronaldo, but with Ronaldo they are a team that could reach the quarterfinals. Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo will be in the running for Best Hair of the 2014 World Cup. Girls love to watch him because he sometimes rips off his shirt when he scores. And he scores a lot, so the odds of him ripping off his shirt are pretty high.
Player #2. Lionel Messi of Argentina. The other most talented human being hitting a soccer ball on the planet. If Messi hadn’t been injured for much of last season, Ronaldo might not have won the Ballon D’Or. Messi won the European and FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2009, and he won the FIFA Ballon D’Or for three years in a row in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Guess who came in second almost every year during that period? That’s right, Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi and Ronaldo have been battling multiple times each year since Manchester United and Barcelona played in the Champions League semifinals of the 2007-2008 season, when Ronaldo and Manchester United were victorious. Messi had the upperhand a year later in the 2008-2009 final, when Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League final. Then Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid, and the two best players in the world have been contending for La Liga titles,
Copa Del Rey finals, Champions League semifinals, top goalscorer honors, and Ballon D’Or awards.
Messi doesn’t have the glamorous media appeal that Ronaldo has, but the Argentine doesn’t need it. He’s a humble little man with the speed, ball-handling skills, and shooting ability to put him among some of the very best men to have ever played the game. Messi seems to average 2 goals each game, whether he’s coming off the bench or not. The actual statistics are slightly less, but the impression conveys his importance to his team and the intimidation factor he carries against opponents. Many of the players he faces in the World Cup will be honored just to step on the same field as Messi, and some of them should probably ask for his autograph after the game. Messi is a legend. This may be his year—and what a victory that would be: for Argentina to win the World Cup on Brazilian soil.
Player #3. Neymar of Brazil. Neymar is Messi’s 22-year-old teammate on Barcelona. Neymar is Ronaldo’s top contender for Best Haircut of the 2014 World Cup. Neymar is carrying the weight of the greatest footballing nation on his shoulders: the hosts, Brazil. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this young hotshot, and all of the hype is legitimate. Neymar is the real deal. Last summer, he took the Confederations Cup by force. The Confederations Cup takes place the year before the World Cup. It includes the World Cup host nation and the champions of the continental tournaments. Neymar’s young Brazilian team knocked off the two-time European and World-champion Spanish teams in the Confederations Cup final. While this legendary Spain team, one of the greatest national teams of all time, is getting older, no one expected Brazil to dismantle Spain 3-0.
Neymar should carry Brazil deep into the tournament, probably to the semifinals, possibly to the final.
And Neymar should, one day, be winning the same honors that Ronaldo and Messi have been winning: the Ballon D’Or, the footballer of the year. He’s already a superstar, and this summer will be the biggest spotlight of his life.
Player #4: Luis Suarez of Uruguay. He’s currently the most dangerous player in the English Premier League, the world’s best and most competitive soccer league. Suarez scored 31 goals in 35 games, and he’s not even Liverpool’s penalty kick taker. Ronaldo and Messi both take penalties for their teams, but Suarez was scoring heaps of goals from open play. Suarez also had 12 assists in the EPL. Unfortunately, Suarez has a controversial reputation—and deservedly so. He has twice bitten an opponent—that’s right, bitten anopponent—during a match. Biting people? That’s just disturbing. Really.
Suarez’s controversy is more than just the biting. The country of Ghana will always be mad at Suarez for blocking that shot in the last World Cup. But I think any patriot would take a red card to help their team. The referee gave him a red card, he accepted it, and that was it. It wasn’t his fault Gyan missed the penalty kick.
But the biting. That’s weird.
Nevertheless, Suarez is one of the best players in the world—and after his performance with EPL runners-up Liverpool, some would call him the most dangerous player in the world, even over Cristiano Ronaldo.
This World Cup, Liverpool fans will be wishing that Suarez wasn’t as good as he is, because Uruguay is in the same group as England. I am sorry, England. And Joe Hart.
Player #5: Mario Balotelli of Italy. At 23 years-old, Balotelli is Italy’s most explosive and inconsistent player. This man is as likely to score a hat-trick against world-class competition as he is to talk himself into a second yellow card and get sent off. His penalty-kick skills, long-range shots, danger in the air, and sheer athleticism are astounding. But he’s unstable. If he can keep his cool, the Italians will play him often and he can drive them into the semifinals with his attacking power. But he gets flustered easily. Defenders, the Sergio Ramoses of the world, will try to get under his skin and get his head out of the game.
But if this Super Mario is on, he’s on. Just watch the highlights from the Germany-Italy game in the EURO 2012. Frightening.
Balotelli is another player to watch for the shirt-ripping-off. And he’ll strike a pose too.