6 Players to Watch on Day 14 of the 2014 World Cup

Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentJune 25, 2014

6 Players to Watch on Day 14 of the 2014 World Cup

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    France and Argentina play their final group games on Wednesday.

    France play Ecuador and Switzerland play Honduras in Group E, with all four teams still mathematically alive in the race to qualify for the last 16.

    Ecuador and Switzerland, both on three points, will battle it out to finish second. France, meanwhile, need just a point to officially win the group, though they have a plus-six goal differential on second-place Ecuador.

    In Group F, Bosnia and Herzegovina, already eliminated, play Iran, while Argentina face Nigeria. 

    Argentina have already qualified and need a point against Nigeria to guarantee top spot. A draw would also confirm Nigeria's place in the second round.

    Here's a list of six players who have a key part to play on Day 14 of the World Cup.

Karim Benzema, France

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    There weren't many who fancied France to win the World Cup before the tournament kicked off.

    But after two wins from two, including a thrilling 5-2 victory over Switzerland, they're being talked about as potential contenders.

    France will win Group E short of a perfect storm. And coach Didier Deschamps, in quotes carried by The Telegraph's Mark Ogden, believes his team can go much further if Karim Benzema keeps finding the net.

    Karim has confirmed he is in very, very big form at this World Cup. It is evident that he has a joie de vivre at this tournament, which makes you happy to see.

    But he is a world-class player, and since the play-off victory against Ukraine in November, he plays for France as he does for Real. And to have a player as efficient as that is very important for our prospects.

    France's most important asset is a striker in form and scoring goals.

    Benzema has already scored three. It would have been four had his wonderful effort late in the game against Switzerland not been ruled out by the referee's whistle.

Enner Valencia, Ecuador

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    Enner Valencia was a relative unknown outside Ecuador before the World Cup. But not any more.

    The 25-year-old has scored three goals in two games. His double against Honduras helped Ecuador come from behind to win and give themselves a chance of qualifying for the second round.

    Andres Fassi, vice president of Valencia's club side Pachuca, admits the striker's form is already attracting attention from other clubs, according to Mexican ESPN (h/t Sky Sports' Paulo Freitas).

    Enner Valencia’s value increases every day. We don’t know if he will stay, it will be hard given the offers we have received.

    The options that a great player at this level gets are to be taken into account. But for now he has to keep doing things right.

    No doubt it would hurt us to let Enner Valencia go, but we are realistic about his quality.

    Ecuador's hopes will again rest on Valencia's shoulders.

    If Ecuador match Switzerland's result against Honduras when they take on France, they will qualify.

Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland

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    Switzerland have beaten Ecuador and lost heavily to France in their first two group games, but they are still in pole position to qualify from Group E with a game against Honduras to come.

    Xherdan Shaqiri, the Bayern Munich winger, is one of their most recognisable faces. However, he has been the subject of criticism during his time in Brazil.

    In quotes carried by Goal.com's Vaishali Bhardwaj, Shaqiri told Blick (a Swiss-German newspaper) the criticism has been unfair.

    We have enough players in the national team that can be decisive. Not just me. It's about the team. Always.

    I feel very comfortable in the team. What bothers me is that I am criticised much harder when something is not working. I'm exactly the same as everyone else. 

    [...]

    We have been totally run over by the French. In the second half we tried to play football. I think to some extent we succeeded.

    It's certainly good for morale that we scored two goals.

    It wasn't easy, we had to chase the ball a lot. We were always a step too late. The performance of the whole team was not optimal. 

    The 22-year-old hasn't had the impact he might have hoped for.

    Still, a game against Honduras offers a chance to put that right and help Switzerland book their place in the last 16.

Peter Odemwingie, Nigeria

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    Peter Odemwingie's goal against Bosnia and Herzegovina has made Nigeria favourites to qualify from Group F along with Argentina.

    If they can beat Lionel Messi and Co. in the final game, they'll finish top.

    After victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Stoke City striker, in quotes carried by The Guardian, has promised Argentina they will face a team full of confidence in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.

    The goal means a lot to me. But the win was down to 90 minutes of concentration and effort from my team-mates. The most important thing today was the character. We even enjoyed defending together. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this country. Playing for my fatherland is an honour and a pleasure.

    I didn’t expect to score a winner in such an important game, I’m very happy. But this was a point the team earned. Right now I’m so high on our team’s performance.

    Argentina looked vulnerable at the back against Iran, especially when Carlos Queiroz's side hit them on the break.

    Odemwingie has the pace to frighten them if Nigeria can get the ball behind their back four.

Sergio Aguero, Argentina

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    Despite winning the Premier League title, Sergio Aguero endured a frustrating season with Manchester City.

    He struggled with his fitness after suffering calf and hamstring injuries, and he's looked short of match sharpness in games against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iran.

    The individual brilliance of Lionel Messi has helped Argentina win both of their opening games, but it's debatable whether he can continue it throughout the tournament.

    Argentina are already through and need just a point against Nigeria to guarantee top spot in Group F; coach Alejandro Sabella could rest players if he wanted.

    But Aguero looks like a player who needs games—and a goal.

Edin Dzeko, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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    Edin Dzeko's form at the end of the season helped win Manchester City the Premier League title.

    He scored five goals in his last four games as City overhauled Liverpool at the top of the table. But his form hasn't continued into the World Cup.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina have scored only once in their first two games in Brazil. It's the key reason why they'll depart after the group stage.

    Dzeko hasn't had any luck, having one goal wrongly ruled out for offside against Nigeria and hitting the post with a late effort that would have kept Bosnia and Herzegovina in the tournament had it gone in.

    After the the defeat to Nigeria, Dzeko, per the Manchester Evening News, was quick to blame referee Peter O'Leary for their exit.

    What happened? The referee happened.

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    We are sad because of that but the referee should go home too, because he changed the result, he changed the game, and that's why we lost.

    We tried to come back after the goal where there was obviously a foul on our captain and before when I scored a goal it was not offside.

    We fight until the end, but we didn't have our luck.

    Iran have been organised and disciplined, but Dzeko will still hope to end a disappointing World Cup on a high with a goal.

    Iran, though, are still playing for a place in the last 16.