5 Potential Breakthrough Stars of World Cup 2014
The World Cup is the biggest stage in football. Some prosper under the spotlight, some falter under heavy expectations.
Each year, we see players use this opportunity to excel in the eyes of the world, prompting wild speculation and crazy transfer fees.
Let's take an early look at five players who could take the world by storm at Brazil 2014.
Bruno Martins Indi
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The Netherlands are looking good under Louis van Gaal, occupying first place in Group D of the World Cup European Qualifying phase.
The one thing holding the Oranje Army back is central defence—the partnership of Johnny Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen was the sole weak spot in a wonderful 2010 World Cup run.
Bruno Martins Indi fixes that problem in goalscoring style, netting once every three international games on average while remaining a physical and athletic presence.
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Angelo Henriquez was a surprise signing for Manchester United in the summer of 2012.
After recruiting Robin van Persie and adding him to the current crop, Sir Alex Ferguson had five top-tier strikers to play with if you include this teenage Chilean star.
A loan to Wigan Athletic—who have a history of developing young players expertly—is just what the doctor ordered, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him return to the DW Stadium for the 2013-14 season.
Much like Javier Hernandez broke out during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Henriquez has every chance of taking Humberto Suazo's mantle.
Mateo Kovacic has long been touted as the next Croatian star, but playing with Dinamo Zagreb hardly awarded him the opportunity to impress a widespread audience.
He performed well in the UEFA Champions League this season on a poor side, but coming up against Paris Saint-Germain and FC Porto wasn't blockbuster enough for people to switch over and watch him.
He's earned a big move to Internazionale, though. The Italian outfit signed him for €11 million in the wake of Wesley Sneijder and Philippe Coutinho's departures (via Yahoo! Sports).
He's got six months of learning to do, then one year to convince Igor Stimac he's worth the gamble in Brazil.
Brazil have a plethora of options in attack.
Ronaldinho, Wellington Nem, Bernard, Neymar and Oscar—the list goes on and highlights just how many quality players there are for Luiz Felipe Scolari to wade through.
Bernard has an outside shot of starring at this moment in time, but his rapid progression in the Brasileiro Serie A—despite his diminutive stature—has simply proved he's not one to be dismissed.
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It's difficult to predict what tactics Cesare Prandelli will use in 2014, but that won't matter to Angelo Ogbonna, who's shown himself to be versatile and willing to adapt.
He is Torino's most precious asset and rapid progression has allowed him international exposure. He's been linked in the past to Liverpool among other top Premier League clubs (via Goal.com).
By 2014, there's every chance Ogbonna will usurp the aging Andrea Barzagli.