2014 World Cup: 5 Dark-Horse Players to Watch

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2014 World Cup: 5 Dark-Horse Players to Watch
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

As the 2014 World Cup approaches, you'll consistently hear the names Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Suarez, among others. While these top-tier players will certainly own the spotlight in Brazil, there are many first-timers looking to make a name for themselves on the world stage.

Take a Raphael Varane, for example, a 21-year-old French defender who starts in the back for recently crowned winners of the UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid. He's expected to burst onto the national stage this June and is already highly regarded as one of the best young players in the world.

The World Cup is where certain players set themselves up for record-breaking contracts and moves to high-profile clubs. Take Mesut Ozil as a prime example. After a 21-year-old Ozil dazzled at the 2010 World Cup, he transferred from Werder Bremen to Real Madrid, and now he plays for Arsenal, setting himself up for the remainder of his career in terms of financial and team success. 

Other young 20-something-year-olds like Ozil and now Varane proved themselves at the club level, but they can use the World Cup as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

So here are five dark-horse players to watch for in the upcoming 2014 World Cup.

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