10 Players to Watch in World Football for Weekend of August 15-17
We might still have a few odd friendlies to get through before everybody everywhere is fully committed to competitive action only—Real Madrid play Fiorentina this week—but by and large, domestic leagues around Europe are underway and the 2014-15 football season is all set to go this weekend.
We've taken a look ahead of time at the fixtures throughout the game and identified 10 players who bear watching for a variety of reasons.
Naturally, a few debutants for big clubs are involved here as fans will get their first glimpse of potential new heroes, but we've got established players too for various clubs. Each and every one have their reasons to take note of them over the coming weekend—feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below!
David Luiz, PSG
Quick point to note—David Luiz has only just returned to Paris Saint-Germain after an extended holiday following the World Cup, so he's not certain to play.
However, he did feature in a friendly against Napoli for his new side and Thiago Silva picked up an injury in the same game—so it's entirely conceivable that he could be required to make his full debut in Ligue 1 against Bastia.
Luiz will come under intense scrutiny whenever he makes his debut, especially if it is not alongside Silva, and as Bastia showed last week against Marseille, they are no pushovers.
Diego Costa, Chelsea
To Luiz's old team now, Chelsea, and their new big-money striker in Diego Costa.
There should be no doubts about his ability to make a big impact at the London club in the Premier League this season and, with his full debut set to be against newly promoted Burnley, he could announce his arrival to England in a big way with a couple of goals.
Costa's running with the ball, his movement off it and his pure aggression throughout the game means he'll be a horrible handful for defenders to deal with this season.
Lamine Sane, Bordeaux
Over to France and Ligue 1 again, Bordeaux take on Monaco this weekend in one of the top flight's big games.
Monaco suffered a surprise defeat to Lorient on the opening weekend and will be looking for a win this time out—but Bordeaux, now under the management of Willy Sagnol, impressed in their own victory last week with Lamine Sane at the heart of the defence.
Sane has taken over the captaincy at Bordeaux this season and looks set for an impressive campaign.
Oribe Peralta, Club America
Moving outside of Europe briefly, America have established themselves at the top of the fledgling Liga MX Apertura—but have also just agreed to sell Raul Jimenez to Atletico Madrid.
As such, when they take on Morelia this weekend it will be Oribe Peralta they look to lead the line and fire the goals to keep them top of the table.
He already has two in four games this season—but Jimenez had managed four himself, so Peralta needs to step up even further.
Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool
Back to England, Liverpool get their Premier League season underway with Southampton at the weekend with three former Saints starters now part of the Reds squad. Any or all of those might bear watching but only one, Dejan Lovren, is likely to start.
Philippe Coutinho, however, has been in incredible form since about February or March of last season and has continued that into pre-season of this summer.
The Brazilian playmaker is set to play an even bigger role for the team this season and he looks ready to step up and be Liverpool's creative force in the final third with his blend of movement, technique and aggression.
Fredy Montero, Sporting CP
Sporting CP ran Benfica close for the Liga Sagres title last season but have seen a summer of change, with players and manager alike coming and going.
Academica Coimbra are their opponents on the opening day of the new campaign and one "new" face in the SCP side sticks out above all—centre-forward Fredy Montero.
Having impressed in MLS, the 27-year-old Colombian joined Sporting on loan last summer and has since made the move permanent, after scoring 13 goals last season. However, all of those goals came by December and he failed to score thereafter in the league, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his high standards throughout the campaign this time.
Memphis Depay, PSV
PSV Eindhoven take on NAC Breda in the Eredivisie this weekend, looking to take a second successive victory at the start of the new campaign.
International forward Memphis Depay excelled and scored twice last time out and they'll be hoping he continues with such decisive performances, for two reasons.
Firstly, of course, to help them win games and push them closer to a league-title challenge than last season—but also to keep driving up his market value ahead of an inevitable and eventual move abroad. It could still happen this summer, with Premier League clubs said to be interested by Metro.
Salomon Rondon, Zenit St. Petersburg
Now over to the Russian Premier League which has had a boat-load of big scorelines in its opening weeks.
Zenit St. Petersburg have been the early big scorers, recording a hefty 8-1 scoreline last week, won 2-1 in midweek and take on newly promoted Ufa over the weekend.
Salomon Rondon has managed four goals in three games so far for the free-scoring side, who will be anxious to put last season's dramatic loss of the title behind them. Playing at home on Saturday evening, don't be surprised to see them go for the kill against a side who have lost two of their first three games in the top flight—and Rondon to take full advantage of that.
Phil Jones, Manchester United
Back to the opening day of the Premier League for a final time and Louis van Gaal will take charge of Manchester United competitively for the first time against Swansea City.
With his 3-5-2 formation in place it is widely expected that United will sign a centre-back at some point—but it hasn't happened yet, leaving Phil Jones as likely to be the man who is entrusted to hold it all together at the back.
Jones has played both on the right and in the centre over pre-season, and his physicality, determination and need to impress all mean he'll be asked to keep Wilfried Bony quiet at one end of the pitch while his attacking team-mates do damage at the other.
It's a big year and a big chance for Jones and he needs to start well and continue that vein throughout.
Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC
We finish up by flying back over the Atlantic to MLS side Sporting KC, table toppers in the Eastern Conference and facing third-place rivals Toronto at the weekend.
Striker Dom Dwyer has been having a breakout season so far, netting 14 goals for KC—that's 44 percent of their total goal haul for the season.
If the English forward can add another goal or two to his tally against Toronto, it could help his side break their two-game non-winning streak and ensure they maintain a gap at the top ahead of DC United, while a victory would create a 10-point gap between first and third.
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