10 Players to Watch in World Football for Weekend of August 29-31

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2014

10 Players to Watch in World Football for Weekend of August 29-31

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    We've given you our matches to watch for this coming weekend—now it's the turn of the players to be focused on, looking at who might be worth keeping an eye on over the next few days.

    For some it's a return to form or selection after a period out of the side, while others have impressed over the start of this season and could be capable of having a big impact this weekend.

    Here are our 10 players to watch; as ever, feel free to leave your own posted below!

Memphis Depay, PSV

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    Memphis Depay has been on our watch-list every week so far, but with good reason.

    He's the early top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie, with five goals in three games, helping his side PSV Eindhoven maintain their place at the top of the table with a 100 percent record so far.

    This weekend PSV face Vitesse, who have struggled so far this term but finished just two places and four points below PSV last season.

Julian Schieber, Hertha Berlin

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    Julian Schieber made a great start to life at Hertha Berlin with a brace on the opening weekend of the Bundesliga, having departed from Borussia Dortmund over the summer.

    The powerful forward's form will be key to Hertha's progress this season, though they face a tough test this time around—they face Bayer Leverkusen, who themselves took a surprising opening-day win over Schieber's old team, Dortmund.

Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls

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    French legend Thierry Henry showed he remains in impressive form last week, as he featured heavily in his side's 4-2 win over Montreal.

    New York Red Bulls face something of a grudge match this week as they take on Eastern Conference leaders DC United. The team from the Big Apple need to keep piling on the points to ensure they end the regular season in the top five to make the play-offs.

    Henry's form in the final third will continue to be important for his side as they seek a third win in four games.

Didier Drogba, Chelsea

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    Sticking with big-name strikers, Didier Drogba could be called upon to make his first start for Chelsea since rejoining the blues this summer.

    Diego Costa is injured and is not yet sure of making the weekend fixture against Everton, per The Independent.

    With Fernando Torres reported, per the same source, to be involved in transfer talks to AC Milan, Drogba may be required to lead the line. 

Mevlut Erding, Saint Etienne

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    One of the big games in Ligue 1 this weekend sees league title holders Paris Saint-Germain face the progressive St. Etienne on Sunday night.

    PSG are unbeaten but have won just one of their three games this season, so there is a certain amount of pressure and expectancy on them to get the job done at home this time around.

    St. Etienne are second in the early table with seven points from three games, with striker Mevlut Erding having netted three in three so far, continuing his good form. He'll be key to his side getting anything out of the toughest fixture of the season, but will have his work cut out to find chances falling his way.

    If St. Etienne steal anything, expect him to feature.

Paul Pogba, Juventus

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    Serie A kicks off this weekend and while other games might have two big sides featuring, all eyes will be on Juventus as they start their title defence with a new manager in charge.

    How Mass Allegri uses and gets the best out of midfielder Paul Pogba will determine much of how successful he is in leading Juve, whilst the French powerhouse will be looking to affirm his status as one of Europe's leading central players this term.

Iker Casillas, Real Madrid

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    Over to Spain, Iker Casillas continued his uncertain form last week with Real Madrid—but he did get the nod from Carlo Ancelotti to start in the league.

    Real Madrid play Real Sociedad this weekend, a tougher test than Cordoba, but even the Andalucian side gave Iker and Co. several problems during the 90 minutes.

    If he's getting his chance in league play again, it's time to step up and show he can get back to his best. Keylor Navas waits in the wings if not.

Mario Balotelli, Liverpool

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    Liverpool's newest signing Mario Balotelli could only watch from the stands as his old side, Manchester City, beat his new one on Monday night, as he wasn't registered in time to play.

    Against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, though, he is likely to make his debut for the Reds and could feasibly start up front with Daniel Sturridge if Liverpool return to their diamond formation.

    Balotelli drags headlines and cameras with him wherever he plays; how he performs on his debut for the Reds will show in part if he's ready to really put his career on an upward track and show consistency along with ability.

Munir El Haddadi, Barcelona

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    Last week's surprise starter and headline grabber was Barcelona's Munir El Haddadi, who played on the left of the attack and scored a goal on his debut in a 3-0 win over Elche.

    The teenager was impressive throughout his time on the pitch and quickly looked the part, albeit against mediocre opposition.

    Against Villarreal this weekend, it will be fascinating to see if Luis Enrique keeps faith with him in the starting XI against much stronger defenders and, if so, if he can deliver a consistently good performance.

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal

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    Arsenal suffered bad news when they learned that starting striker Olivier Giroud would be out for the long term with injury, but that was tempered by Alexis Sanchez's first goal of the season in helping them qualify for the Champions League group stage.

    The Chilean is likely to be handed further chances to play as the No. 9 in Giroud's absence, not his main or ideal position but certainly one he'll need to adapt to and perform well in.

    If his direct running and work-rate can be supplemented by those behind him providing chances on goal, Alexis could be the difference between draws and victories on any given weekend for Arsenal—starting with Leicester City away on Sunday.