Ranking the Liverpool Players on Their Likely World Cup Impact
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is almost upon us and most countries have now finalised their 23-man squads.
In total 736 players will be involved across the 32 nations—of which, 11 will be Liverpool players officially.
That's one more than The Reds had at the 2010 World Cup when 10 players represented the Anfield club—one of which went on to win the competition with Spain, Fernando Torres. Will a Liverpool player go on to win this year's competition too?
With five players in the England squad, plus Jon Flanagan on the reserve list, Liverpool as a club will certainly have a major impact on Roy Hodgson's squad and their success or failure in Brazil.
Aside from England, five other countries have named a Liverpool player in the squad.
We rank the 11 Liverpool players on their likely and expected impact at the World Cup—based upon their form this season, their likely role within their national squad and their experience at an international level.
Not included on the ranking is Flanagan as he isn't named in England's final 23-man list, but he could earn a late call-up should injury affect any of Hodgson's squad during their warm-up games.
11. Sebastian Coates (Uruguay)
The 6"7' centre-back Sebastian Coates has missed the whole of the 2013/14 campaign with Liverpool having suffered cruciate knee ligament injury last August.
He has recently been on loan back in Uruguay at Nacional where he has continued his rehabilitation with the aim of enabling him to play a part at the World Cup.
He's been rewarded with a place in Oscar Tabarez's provisional 25-man squad list. His final involvement in the World Cup itself will depend largely on how he has recovered from injury.
Prior to signing for Liverpool, he won Best Young Player at the 2011 Copa America, showing his international pedigree. Should he be fit, he will be hoping to recapture that form.
10. Pepe Reina (Spain)
Officially still a Liverpool player, this will be Pepe Reina's third World Cup for Spain.
Reina though is firmly the understudy to Iker Casillas and is yet to appear in a World Cup match. Could he get his chance this year finally? It seems unlikely.
Indeed, Reina's main role in recent competitions has been during the team's celebrations.
9. Simon Mignolet (Belgium)
There were reports of a "feud" between the two keepers back in February, when Courtois claimed Mignolet had shown disrespect by claiming that he should be given the chance as No. 1. Bizarrely though, those comments by Mignolet cannot be found in any media—as explained previously on B/R.
Despite their apparent feud, Courtois will be No. 1 at the World Cup. He's had a sensational season at Madrid, which could of course culminate with Champions League success vs. Real Madrid in the final.
8. Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast)
Former Arsenal and Man City centre-back Kolo Toure moved to Liverpool last summer on a free transfer, where he has made 24 appearances in all competitions last season.
At 33, Toure remains an important member of Ivory Coast's squad and team. He started their last two internationals alongside Didier Zakora in defence and is likely to do so for their games against Japan, Colombia and Greece at the World Cup.
With over 100 appearances for his country, Toure is one of the most experienced members of the squad.
7. Glen Johnson (England)
After a season of up-and-down form domestically for Liverpool, Glen Johnson remains England's first-choice right-back.
The absence of Tottenham's Kyle Walker through injury has cemented Johnson's place in Roy Hodgson's squad. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are the only other options for Hodgson, and neither are natural full-backs.
Therefore, Johnson is assured his place and his performances, especially defensively, could be vital for England in their group against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
6. Raheem Sterling (England)
Teenager Raheem Sterling could end up being the surprise of the whole World Cup—should he be able to replicate his club form for Liverpool on the international stage, and should Hodgson give him opportunity to do so.
Much will depend, perhaps, on how Sterling and England perform in their warm-up friendlies for the tournament.
Will Hodgson play Sterling in the front three alongside Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney, or instead use Adam Lallana alongside those two and have Sterling from the bench?
Should Sterling start, he could cause defences huge problems with his trickery, pace and improved final delivery of late. Similarly, his impact could be just as huge from the bench, especially against defences when tired.
Could Sterling be to 2014 what Michael Owen was in 1998?
5. Jordan Henderson (England)
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson continues his rise and now looks set to be a key component for England at the World Cup.
The 23-year-old has been vital to allow Liverpool to get the best out of Steven Gerrard in his new deep-lying playmaker role, and thus Henderson is likely to start in a similar role as he performs for his club, doing the running and pressing ahead of his captain to afford him the space to dictate the game.
As a likely starting XI player, Henderson's impact on the World Cup will therefore be vital for England.
4. Mamadou Sakho (France)
French centre-back Mamadou Sakho has had an injury-interrupted first season at Liverpool but remains a key player for the national side.
The 23-year-old was pivotal in France's qualification for the tournament, scoring twice in the play-off match against Ukraine.
In total, Sakho started five of their World Cup qualifiers, named on the bench on three more.
He faces competition from Eliaquim Mangala for the starting berth alongside Raphael Varane at the heart of France's defence. Sakho is expected to get the nod.
3. Daniel Sturridge (England)
It's somewhat surprising that, having scored 21 Premier League goals in 2013/14, Daniel Sturridge is not being hyped up more by the media ahead of the World Cup.
At 24, Sturridge is entering the prime of his career and will be looking to carry his club form onto the biggest stage.
The major issue facing England is that of Wayne Rooney and where Hodgson will play him. There is a strong argument to play Sturridge in his preferred central role, where he can prosper, and either drop Rooney altogether or play him deeper.
Hodgson though, may opt to move Sturridge into a wide role and play Rooney central. If that happens, Sturridge's impact will be much less than it could and should be.
2. Steven Gerrard (England)
The England and Liverpool captain is a key player who has a huge impact on every game he plays.
This will be Gerrard's third World Cup, having missed 2002 through injury.
Gerrard was England's top scorer at the 2006 World Cup, with two goals, and captained his country at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Gerrard will be the first name on Roy Hodgson's team sheet, operating in his deep midfield role and hoping to continue his impressive form for Liverpool.
Much of Gerrard's impact will depend on those around him, can they help the 33-year-old by effectively doing the running for him, especially in the heat of Manaus for the opening game against Italy.
Gerrard's delivery on set pieces, and taking of penalties—he scored 11 for Liverpool in the Premier League last season—will also be key.
1. Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
The mercurial Luis Suarez is up there alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the top-three footballers in world football.
Suarez, despite picking up a knee injury in training is still expected to take part in the tournament.
This will be the 27-year-old's second World Cup and he certainly made a huge impact in his last one in 2010. Suarez played in all six of his country's games, scoring three times.
He was also involved in the most controversial moment of the competition, when he handled the ball on the line against Ghana in the final minutes of extra time in the quarter-final. Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty and Uruguay progressed to the semi-final on penalties.
A key man for his country, Uruguay will be hoping that Suarez recovers from injury in time to have the expected impact he can have on the 2014 World Cup.