FIFA World Cup

15 Players Hitting Form at the Right Time to Have a Big World Cup

Richard MorganContributor IMarch 7, 2014

15 Players Hitting Form at the Right Time to Have a Big World Cup

1 of 16

    Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

    With the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals now just three months away, all eyes are starting to focus on the global showpiece event in Brazil. In particular, which stars are hitting form at exactly the right time to be able to light up the tournament this summer.

    So we take a look at 15 such players who appear to be catching fire just when they need to for their respective clubs. They are hoping to really catch everyone's attention when the competition finally gets under way in South America this June.

    And the criteria that we are using to base our selections on are a player’s form for his club side during the course of the past 10 matches they have featured in both domestically and in Europe, with particular attention as always on what wins you games, goals and assists.

     

Daniel Sturridge

2 of 16

    Club: Liverpool
    Country: England
    Position: Forward
    Age: 24
    Last 10 club games: 9 goals, 2 assists

    As the highest-scoring Englishman currently in the Premier League, the Reds attacker is a nailed-on certainty to be featuring for his country at this summer’s World Cup, and the player looks like he'll arrive in Brazil in the form of his life. 

    In fact, over the course of the past 10 top-flight matches for the Merseysiders, Sturridge has managed to register a hugely impressive nine goals and two assists, so England manager Roy Hodgson will just be praying his player suffers no more serious ankle injuries between now and the end of the season.

Arturo Vidal

3 of 16

    Club: Juventus
    Country: Chile
    Position: Central Midfielder
    Age: 26
    Last 10 club games: 4 goals, 1 assist

    Arturo Vidal scored yet another goal for Juve in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 clash in Trabzonspor last Thursday night, his 17th in total so far this season in just 30 matches in all competitions. This reaffirmed that he is a player at the very height of his powers as the World Cup fast approaches this summer.

    And the Chile international, who has also contributed crucial strikes and an assist for the Serie A champions against the likes of both Inter Milan and Sampdoria since the turn of the year, now appears to be in prime form as he gears up for what should be a feast of football in Brazil in three months’ time.

Thibaut Courtois

4 of 16

    Club: Atletico de Madrid
    Country: Belgium
    Position: Goalkeeper
    Age: 21
    Last 10 club games: 9 goals conceded, 4 clean sheets

    Courtois is rated as one of the best young shot-stoppers in the world after yet another sensational campaign between the posts while on loan at Atleti. Some of the Belgian’s most recent performances for the La Liga outfit have been rather breathtaking. 

    In particular, the 21-year-old was in imperious form to somehow prevent AC Milan from scoring in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash at the San Siro last month.

    And so Courtois appears set to further cement his already massive reputation at Brazil 2014 this summer.

Arjen Robben

5 of 16

    Club: Bayern Munich
    Country: Netherlands
    Position: Winger
    Age: 30
    Last 10 club games: 8 goals and 1 assist

    If the Bayern wide man stays fit between now and the start of the World Cup in June, then the Netherlands must have a great chance of repeating their performance of four years ago when they made it all the way to the final in South Africa.

    Whether it be in the Bundesliga or the UEFA Champions League, the 30-year-old Robben has been in imperious form on the wing for Pep Guardiola’s unstoppable Bavarian machine. He has eight goals in his past 10 matches in all competitions, including a stunning hat-trick in a man-of-the-match performance against Schalke 04 in the league this past Saturday.

Lucas Moura

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Club: Paris Saint-Germain
    Country: Brazil
    Position: Attacking midfielder
    Age: 21
    Last 10 club games: 4 assists

    The Brazil international began the season relatively quietly for his high standards, although with the World Cup in his homeland now well and truly within sight, Moura has started to hit his straps for the Ligue 1 champions of late.

    And nowhere better could this be seen than on Sunday night against Marseille when the midfield star almost scored one of the goals of the season at the Parc des Princes. His recent displays both domestically and in the UEFA Champions League have also been marked by a number of assists and man-of-the-match awards.

     

Luis Suarez

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    Club: Liverpool
    Country: Uruguay
    Position: Forward
    Age: 27
    Last 10 club games: 2 goals and 6 assists

    The 27-year-old’s previously prolific scoring rate may have slowed down as of late, but that should still not mask the forward’s all-round contribution to his team’s amazing domestic form so far this season.

    "El Pistolero" has been the outstanding player in England from the very moment he returned from a 10-match ban at the end of September, and while he may have netted for the very first time in six matches at Southampton on Saturday, Suarez has nonetheless been creating goals for fun of late.

    In fact, the Uruguayan is now heading both the goalscoring and assists chart in the Premier League this campaign with 24 and 10, respectively.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    Club: Real Madrid
    Country: Portugal
    Position: Forward
    Age: 29
    Last 10 club games: 8 goals and 3 assists

    What is there left to say about the recently crowned FIFA World Player of the Year, who is not only currently the top scorer in La Liga, but also the UEFA Champions League. 

    However, since winning his second Ballon d’Or, the Portuguese has really taken his game to an even higher level, if that is possible, with Ronaldo having recorded eight goals and three assists for Los Blancos in their last 10 games in all competitions, including four man-of-the-match awards as well.

    In fact, it is almost as if the great man has been gradually building up momentum ahead of this summer’s showpiece event.

Mario Goetze

9 of 16

    Club: Bayern Munich
    Country: Germany
    Position: Attacking Midfielder
    Age: 21
    Last 10 club games: 2 goals and 4 assists

    Last summer’s big-money arrival at the Allianz Arena has enjoyed a productive debut campaign in Bavaria, with the 21-year-old appearing to get better as the season has gone on, perhaps a reflection of the midfielder becoming more accustomed to his new teammates and working environment.

    However, Goetze appears to have stepped up his game a touch in recent weeks, with two goals and four assists in his previous eight league matches as the wunderkind of German football prepares for his first ever appearance at a World Cup finals.

Eden Hazard

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    Club: Chelsea
    Country: Belgium
    Position: Left-sided forward
    Age: 23
    Last 10 club games: 3 goals and 2 assists

    Eden Hazard has been described by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as the best young player aged 23 or under in the world at the moment after he single-handedly destroyed Newcastle United recently. And to be fair to the "Special One", it is hard to disagree, especially given his electric form since the turn of the year.

    Incredibly, the Belgium international is the west London club’s top scorer in the Premier League at the moment, and by some distance too, with 12 goals in 28 matches, while he also has seven assists to his name in the top flight, two of which came against Fulham last Saturday.

    And if Hazard keeps up this kind of frightening form between now and when the competition starts in June, then opposition right-backs the world over will be in for a torrid time in Brazil.

Alexis Sanchez

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    Club: FC Barcelona
    Country: Chile
    Position: Forward
    Age: 25
    Last 10 club games: 7 goals and 3 assists

    This has already been the Chile international’s best season since he signed for the Catalans from Udinese three years ago, and there are still two months left of the campaign to play.

    But it has been his form over the course of the past two months that has really propelled the forward to the forefront of the watching public’s imagination, which will have also brought a huge smile to the face of his national coach, Jorge Sampaoli.

    And with an impressive haul of seven goals and three assists to his name for Barca during their previous 10 contests in all competitions, Sanchez is a player at the very top of his game as we count down to this summer’s World Cup.

Raheem Sterling

12 of 16

    Club: Liverpool
    Country: England
    Position: Forward
    Age: 19
    Last 10 club games: 3 goals and 1 assist

    The Reds flyer is timing his run to be included in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man England squad to perfection, especially given the recent untimely injury suffered by Arsenal forward Theo Walcott.

    Sterling, who did not even begin the campaign in the Liverpool starting lineup, has since forced his way into the first-team reckoning at Anfield by his sheer weight of performance, especially since the start of the year.

    And with three goals and an assist to his name in his last five matches for his club, the exciting wide man appears to now be hitting peak form at exactly the right time.

Karim Benzema

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    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    Club: Real Madrid
    Country: France
    Position: Forward
    Age: 26
    Last 10 club games: 7 goals and 3 assists

    The Les Bleus striker has really hit a purple patch of form in front of goal in recent weeks for the La Liga giants playing in between the world’s two most expensive players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

    In fact, Benzema has managed to net an eye-catching seven goals, with three assists also thrown in for good measure, in his last 10 outings both in the league and the UEFA Champions League for Carlo Ancelotti’s in-form outfit as he moves into top gear for the World Cup in June.

Neymar

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    Club: FC Barcelona
    Country: Brazil
    Position: Forward
    Age: 22
    Last 10 club games: 7 goals and 2 assists

    The new star of Camp Nou has made a seamless transition to life in Catalunya this season, with the twinkle-toed forward appearing to hit peak form for Barca in the run-up to their midseason break just before Christmas when scoring five goals in two games against both Celtic and Villarreal.

    However, an ankle injury in January then sidelined the Brazilian for four weeks, although it took Neymar all of one match to return to scoring ways in his comeback against Rayo Vallecano last month.

    And who knows, maybe that recent layoff after the new year could actually help the superstar hit top form for a tournament in which he is the poster boy.

Yaya Toure

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    Club: Manchester City
    Country: Ivory Coast
    Position: Central Midfield
    Age: 30
    Last 10 club games: 3 goals and 1 assist 

    The fact that the marauding Ivorian is currently his club’s second-highest goalscorer in the Premier League with 13 strikes tells you all you need to know about just what an outstanding campaign Yaya Toure is having to date at Eastlands.

    And whenever Manuel Pellegrini’s expensively assembled outfit have been struggling in recent weeks, it has been the giant-striding 30-year-old who the team have looked to for inspiration. Toure responded in turn with performances such as in the second half against Sunderland on Sunday to help turn around the Capital One Cup final at Wembley.

Lionel Messi

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    Club: FC Barcelona
    Country: Argentina
    Position: Forward
    Age: 26
    Last 10 club games: 9 goals and 4 assists

    Ever since the diminutive four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner returned from his latest muscle-related injury against Levante at the end of January, the 26-year-old has appeared a man on a mission, with that journey scheduled to end at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.

    The Argentinian genius marked his comeback from over two months on the sidelines with three assists in a man-of-the-match display. Over the course of the following nine contests in all competitions for the La Liga champions, Messi has registered an incredible nine goals and four assists, while also picking up a further six man-of-the-match awards in the process.

    And so for the rest of Planet Football, be afraid, be very afraid as the World Cup finals gradually loom into view.

     

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