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Neymar's Masterclass and the Top 5 Players from Around the World This Week

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2014

Neymar's Masterclass and the Top 5 Players from Around the World This Week

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    Buda Mendes/Getty Images

    There will be plenty of weight on Neymar's youthful shoulders when the World Cup kicks off in Sao Paulo on Thursday, but the Barcelona star can fulfill his astonishing potential.

    During a friendly with Panama last week, the 22-year-old scored a beautiful free-kick and set up two other goals in the Selecao's convincing 4-0 victory.

    For his efforts, Neymar leads our list from the last week of friendly action... 

Neymar

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    Andre Penner/Associated Press

    Brazil may have laboured to a 1-0 victory over Serbia in their final pre-World Cup friendly on Friday evening, but they were much livelier earlier in the week in their 4-0 win over Panama.

    Neymar was in world-beating form in the earlier game, putting the Selecao on the scoreboard with a lovely free-kick in the 26th minute. Straight after the break, the Barcelona star pulled of a sublime no-look, backheel pass to help Hulk score host's third goal of the game. 

    According to WhoScored.com, the 22-year-old had six shots on goal—more than double that of anyone else on the field—and took 79 touches, making him the most active player in the game. 

     

     

     

     

     

Lukas Podolski

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    In their final friendly before the big one, Germany recorded a comfortable 6-1 win over Armenia on Friday evening. 

    The match gave us plenty of talking points: Marco Reus picked up an ankle injury that will keep him out of the World Cup, Andre Schurrle scored a cheeky backheel, Mario Gotze found the net twice and Miroslav Klose broke Gerd Mueller's all-time German scoring record. 

    The standout performance, however, came from Lukas Podolski, who replaced Reus at the end of the first half. The Arsenal forward scored the second goal and bagged three assists—an excellent contribution in half a game.

    Having a player who can come on and play like that from the bench is a clear indication of Nationalmannschaft's superior strength in depth in midfield.

     

     

Arjen Robben

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    Ermindo Armino/Associated Press

    The Netherlands concluded their World Cup preparations last Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Wales. The Oranje's best player in Amsterdam was Arjen Robben, who opened the scoring in the 32nd minute by burying a deflected Robin van Persie shot. 

    The Bayern Munich star also created the hosts' second in the 76th minute when his cross was met by substitute forward Jeremain Lens.

    According to WhoScored, the tricky winger had four shots on target and completed 87 percent of his passes. 

    Dutch fans will be hoping Robben is in similar form when the Oranje begin their World Cup campaign against fellow 2010 finalists Spain on Friday.  

Jozy Altidore

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    It's been a long time since Jozy Altidore has done something worthy of a top-5 list, having suffered a forgettable season with Sunderland and a goal drought that has rendered him unable to find the net for club or country since December 4 of last year.

    However, he looked more like the player we saw take the Eredivisie by storm in 2012/13 in the USA's 2-1 win over Nigeria in Florida on Saturday. The American scored both goals, following up a simple tap-in to powerfully beat goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama to complete his brace.  

    Jurgen Klinsmann's men will move into the Group of Death with more confidence, knowing their regular starting striker has regained his confidence. 

Clarence Seedorf

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    While 32 of the world's finest national teams prepared for Brazil last week, some of the stars of World Cups past turned out in Turin for a Juventus vs. Real Madrid legends match.

    In a game featuring the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Fernando Morientes, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Christian Vieri, it was Clarence Seedorf who stunned Juventus stadium with an absolutely incredible volley from outside the box.

    Not bad for a 38-year-old.

    Perhaps the Milan manager should think about strapping on his boots for the Rossoneri next season... 

     

    Follow me on Twitter @RyanJayBailey

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