Diego Forlan and 5 Aging Strikers Who'll Still Be Threats at the World Cup
Forget about the two missed penalties. The 2013 Confederations Cup proved that Diego Forlan is still a force to be reckoned with when he pulls on the Uruguay shirt.
The Internacional striker is just one of several deadly forwards on the wrong side of 30 that will be hoping to make a splash next year at the World Cup.
Strikers can often prolong their careers far longer than those who play in the middle of the pitch. While physical attributes start to wane, their instincts in front of the net and ability to finish are abilities that stay intact for the natural goalscorer.
Along with Forlan, there will be plenty of veteran hit men present in Brazil 2014. If you have any more suggestions, let us know in the comments section.
Clive Mason/Getty Images
The 35-year-old ex-Atletico Madrid and Inter forward showed that he had lost none of the magic in Brazil, as he played a pivotal role in Uruguay's journey to the semi-finals.
Relegated to the bench for the Celeste debut against Spain, Forlan transformed a flagging team, and his subtle touch around the box gave Uruguay an extra edge. A 2-1 defeat was no surprise, but the No. 10 regained his starting place and responded with a superb goal against Nigeria to help his side into the knockout stage.
A pair of saved penalties against Brazil followed by Italy constituted a bitter aftertaste for the usually flawless set piece taker. But Forlan proved that. while the legs may not give what they used to, he has the intelligence and creativity to still be key for the Celeste in 2014.
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
The Barcelona forward is just one part of Spain's golden generation that could see Brazil 2014 as their final chance for further international success. Xavi, Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Villa will all be pushing retirement at the time of Euro 2016 and will want to say goodbye to Spain in the habitual way—by winning more titles.
Villa, 31, boasts an incredible record for the Furia Roja. In 92 caps El Guaje has netted 56 times, making him the all-time highest scorer in the Iberian nation. If not for repeated injury problems over the last few seasons, that impressive tally could be even higher.
It will not be easy for the ex-Valencia star, under pressure up front from stars such as Pedro, Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente and Roberto Soldado, to keep his place in the Spain first XI. He will need all of his best form to secure a spot for Brazil; luckily, we know that his best is something very special indeed.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Miroslav Klose's lengthy career—the Germany striker turned 35 in June—is nothing if not a paradox. The rangy forward has spent most of his club career hovering around the midtable section of the Bundesliga, save a disappointing four-year spell with Bayern.
When he pulls on the white of the national team, however, almost as if he was a Teutonic Incredible Hulk, something incredible happens.
Klose has netted a brilliant 67 goals in 127 international appearances, more than one strike every two games. They are often not pretty, but as a centre-forward in the penalty area few beat the burly striker for effectiveness.
He needs just one more goal to equal Gerd Muller's Mannschaft record, and he is still banging them in during Germany's rampant qualification campaign for Brazil. Even at 36, do not bet against the striker to keep up the form in next year's World Cup.
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
The Fluminense striker, at 29 years old, weighs in as the youngest member of our venerable quintet. By the time of the next World Cup, however, Fred will have passed into his fourth decade; and it feels like he has been around forever.
As well as a budding partnership with young star Neymar, which yielded nine goals across the Confederations Cup, including all three in the final against Spain, Fred has a gift for scoring memorable goals.
He also scored one of the quickest strikes in football history, netting after just three seconds while playing as a youngster for America Mineiro. Fred also notched the first ever goal in the renovated Maracana stadium, against England, and followed that up with two goals in the famous ground to down Spain and hand Brazil victory.
Able to score scrappy goals and stunners, Fred is the local hero—he even has his face painted onto the Maracana subway station, alongside Garrincha, Zico and Roberto Dinamite—who, despite his advancing years, will lead the Brazil attack into the World Cup.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Similarly to Forlan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's presence at the upcoming World Cup is far from certain. The Sweden striker is battling hard to send his team to Brazil, but with Germany runaway leaders of Group C, the playoffs appear the only possible route for the Scandinavians.
If the World Cup is deprived of Zlatan's talents, as in 2010, it is the sport itself that will miss out. The Paris Saint-Germain striker is a moody, mercurial talent, capable of brilliance at any given moment, anywhere on the pitch.
Fresh from his 10th league title in 12 seasons, the striker is a winner. He now needs to channel that same temperament into a key six months for Sweden, as they strive to finish qualification on a high and beat out Austria into second place.
Should they make it—even at 32, as he will be at Brazil 2014—Zlatan would be a gift to the tournament.