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Key Players To Watch: World Cup Groups E-F

Taiu Kunimoto |
June 15, 2014 | 12:31 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Group E

Ecuador: #16 Antonio Valencia

The Ecuadorian captain and Manchester United winger will be representing his national team for the 72nd time. His fast pace dribbling from the right flank will be Ecuador’s most threatening weapon against their opponents. The two strikers, Felipe Caicedo and Enner Valencia, will be frequently glancing over their right shoulders expecting a deadly cross.

Pogba can blast a shot from anywhere on the pitch. (Bandicam.com)
Pogba can blast a shot from anywhere on the pitch. (Bandicam.com)

France: #19 Paul Pogba

The 21-year-old French defensive midfielder was international football’s biggest discovery last season. Having been dropped by Sir Alex Ferguson from Manchester United's youth club, Pogba found his success with Juventus tallying seven goals and seven assists. Known for his brutal tackles and long shots, when the French are having trouble finding a crack in the opposing defense, they can always look to Pogba to blast a thunderous drive into the net.

Honduras: #3 Maynor Figueroa

Having played in the English Premiere League, Figueroa will be in charge of organizing the defensive line for his mother country. Figueroa’s experiences in defending against some of the best teams in Europe will be Honduras’ key to survive the bombardment from the French, Swiss and Ecuadorian offenses.

Shaqiri's technique is unparalleled in Swiss football. (gifsoup.com)
Shaqiri's technique is unparalleled in Swiss football. (gifsoup.com)

Switzerland: #23 Xherdan Shaqiri

He is the most expensive player on the Swiss team (estimated to be worth up to 20 million). Currently a member of Bayern Munich, it is safe to say that Shaqiri is the most talented attacking midfielder that Switzerland has ever produced. Shaqiri’s positioning and movement in front of the opposing penalty box will cause a series of problems for his opponents. The young talent seeks to attract more attention from the scouts with his consistent performances for the Swiss.

Group F

Bosnia Herzegovina: #8 Miralem Pjanic

Instead of Pjanic, Edin Dzeko might be the hottest name in the Bosnian football; however, one should never overlook Pjanic. The Bosnian midfielder who plays for Roma can slice through some of the toughest defenses in Serie A with his pinpoint passing. On the national team side, his playmaking role does not change. Pjanic’s ability to service Dzeko with comfortable passes will be tested in the group stage. It will also be the key for Bosnia to advance into the next round.

Messi is sure to break a few ankles this tournament. (GIF)
Messi is sure to break a few ankles this tournament. (GIF)

Argentina: #10 Lionel Messi

Without a doubt, King Leo is the embodiment of the modern Argentine football. Messi’s stellar performances for Barcelona had the world draw comparisons between him and Diego Maradona. But in order for Messi to live up to the legendary status, one trophy is still missing from his cabinet—the World Cup. Certainly he will require support from his defenders to not concede goals. But on the offensive end, Messi is the man that brings magic into La Albieceleste.

Iran: #16 Reza Ghoochannejhad

His name may not sound familiar among football fans, but he is one of the most prominent strikers for Iran. Ghoochannjhad plays for Charlton Athletics and was vital to Iran’s qualification for the World Cup. He is quick at his feet and he knows how to appear at the right place at the right time. Iranian supporters have hopes on him to crack open some goals.

Nigeria: #10 John Obi Mikel

The 27-year-old Chelsea midfielder looks to cause a few surprises in the World Cup. As the interest in him rises in the transfer market this summer, Mikel is eager to lead Nigeria to cause some upsets from the group stage to the tournament round. Mikel's long passes will serve as the ignition for the Nigerian offense. His tackling around the center circle will also serve as the first line of defense to protect Nigeria's fragile defense.

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