With World Cup 2014 just around the corner, the eyes of soccer fans turn towards the Confederations Cup, as players from the world’s top sides will be looking to display their talents.
While the Confederations Cup is known for colossal upsets (see USA over Spain in 2009), it has also become known as a place for young players to make their case for call-ups for the next summer’s World Cup.
One player hoping to impress is Stephan El Shaarawy, who is coming off of a very impressive season for Milan. The Italian El Shaarawy scored 19 goals last season for the Serie A giants, despite a late season slump. “The Pharaoh” will need to impress this summer, as this tournament has major implications for both club and country.
While earning his place in the national side is always a strong motivation, El Shaarawy will also have to prove his worth to Milan, who is reportedly open to selling him. With Milan planning to switch to Italy’s 4-3-1-2 formation, El Shaarawy will have to impress this summer if he is to show his club that he can fit in tactically.
Look for El Shaarawy to have a solid tournament, as he should see playing time with his fellow Rossoneri forward Mario Balotelli.
Another player coming off of an impressive season is Spain’s Javi Martinez, who is joining the World Champions after being part of a treble winning campaign with Bayern Munich. Martinez is a strong defender, especially during this year’s Champions League, as he was viewed as the key to stopping Barcelona’s famed tiki-taka.
Despite being named to Spain’s World Cup and Euro winning squads, Martinez has appeared sporadically. Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has described Martinez as “a complete player," so look for Martinez to get a chance to shine, as Spain could use Martinez’s engine for the future.
Brazil’s Lucas Moura also appears to be one for the future, as the 20-year-old will be looking to lead Brazil to glory on home soil. Lucas, who plays for French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, had a monumental 2012, as he was a member of Brazil’s Olympic silver medal squad. Shortly after, Lucas was bought for €45million by PSG, where he impressed the legendary David Beckham.
Lucas has featured 24 times for Brazil, scoring four goals, but has never played in a senior tournament of this magnitude. Lucas will be expected to be a major cog in the Brazil midfield, which features other up-and-coming superstars Oscar and Fernando.
Finally, there is current Liverpool man Sebastian Coates, who will feature for a Uruguay team that includes disgraced Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez.
Liverpool is currently undergoing a changing of the guard following Jamie Carragher’s retirement, which means this tournament may end up being a de-facto tryout for the hulking Uruguayan. The 6'5" center back will need to have a strong tournament to lock down his club place.
Coates will also need to step up for his Uruguay side, where he has already received impressive honors, such as being recognized as the best young player of the 2011 Copa America tournament. With captain Diego Lugano getting up there in age, Coates is Uruguay’s center back of the future, and he will need to be strong at the back to lock down a place for both club and country.
Which young players will impress at this summer’s tournament? Discuss in the comment box below!