2010 World Cup: 20 Underrated Players In The World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is begins in three weeks.
So far, all the talk is about Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Xavi and the Spanish stars.
But for every star, there is an underrated player out there. The World Cup features 32 countries going at each other and there will be surprises.
As we approach the tournament, lets look at those players who aren't talked about as much that could be the x-factors on their various teams, in no particular order.
The Mexican national plies his trade in Spain for Deportivo La Coruna.
He has won the Deportivo player of the year in 2007 and 2008 after helping the club finish a respectable 9th and 7th respectively.
Guardado has bags of talent. He can either play as a left back or left winger, though he is a more natural winger.
Guardado might not be the scoring type, but his runs and vision could create plays to take Mexico to higher places.
The lanky German might not be a starter for the team, but with every strong first 11 there has to be a substitute that could hold the fort.
He has had good seasons two years running, with Bayern Leverkusen leading their scoring charts with 21 goals.
Kießling could be a wild card for Germany.
John Obi Mikel
He has been crowded by the likes of Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard at Chelsea and has not received the plaudits he deserves.
Mikel helped Chelsea do the double, although he isn't a statistic player his presence will be felt in midfield with his linkup play and ability to break up passes.
He could have a say in how far the Super Eagles will progress.
Roque Santa Cruz
The Paraguayan national has not had an easy life at Manchester City. Injuries and "better" players have limited him to just 19 league appearances and three goals.
But with 20 goals for his country in 66 caps, he will be looking at the World Cup as a stepping stone to put his career back on track.
In 2008, Gignac caught the eyes of many by scoring 24 goals. Last season was not as productive as he manged only eight.
French coach Raymond Domenech included him on the roster for the World Cup qualifiers and he scored four goals (10 total caps for France).
He has a decent scoring rate and could play a reliever role at the World Cup.
His height (6'2") could help France as they have no real target man.
Mario Gomez has had to share starting roles with Miroslav Klose, Ivan Olic and sometimes Tomas Mueller since his move to Bayern, but has managed to notch up 19 goals in 35 starts.
Gomez has played regularly for Germany, featuring in the Euro 2008 final (when Germany lost to Spain).
He should be an aerial threat and a possible outlet for goals for the German side.
The New Jersey native has hard a hard time at the club level this season, helping pulling Villarreal from the depths of an early relegation scare to finish a respectable seventh place.
He notched up 10 goals in the league.
His most notable national appearances came in the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa, where he scored two goals in three games.
Hopefully he could do the young players proud and help the Azzuri retain the World Cup.
Kroos was a revelation at Bayern Leverkusen (on loan from Bayern Munich), helping them finish fourth while scoring nine goals with nine assists.
With Michael Ballack injured, Toni Kroos could be a surprise candidate to fill his boots.
Alex Song was a new signing at Arsenal.
He's cemented his place as a starter at the Arsenal side, letting Fabregas roam. Song has controlled the midfield like a general.
He needs to translate his Arsenal performances to his national team if Cameroon are to help Africa progress on home soil.
Is this guy 23-years-old?
Whlle he helped Uruguay qualify for the World Cup by scoring five goals, he has been sort of a talisman for his country at such a young age.
The most amazing feat of all is that he scored 49 goals in 48 games for Ajax in all competitions.
With red hot Diego Forlan as a teammate up front Uruguay might be fun to watch.
The South African international's ticks and speed will be key for the home nation as they welcome the world.
But with Mexico and France in their group, they cannot afford to chill.
Pienaar has been the creative force at both club and country, he might not be one with the assists or goals, but his vision sure works on the field.
He was recently named Everton F.C. player of the season of the recently-concluded season.
The versatile defender is able to play across defense and at defensive midfield.
He also has an eye for goal, finishing joint top scorer of the qualifiers with three goals.
Ivanovic completed a productive season with Chelsea, filling in for Jose Bosingwa and helping the team win the Premier League and FA Cup.
When partnered by Nemaja Vidic in defense, Serbia might be a tough nut to crack.
The American striker went to England to stay fit, playing for Everton. Maybe it was a spy operation to find out England plans (they are both in the same group). We will never know.
The versatile forward makes this list because many people think he and many other Americans can't play the "beautiful game'.
Recently those naysayers have been proven wrong, as America dispatched Spain fairly easily at the Confederations Cup 2-0 and almost beat Brazil in the Final. Donovan was key in both games
Luis Fabiano is one of the most lethal stikers in the world, only that he does't get enough recognition for it.
He has always scored crucial goals for Brazil and Sevilla.
For Brazil, he scored in the 2009 Confederations Cup Final helping it overturn a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2. He helped Brazil qualify for the World Cup scoring against arch rivals Argentina.
At club level he helps Sevilla finish 3rd, 4th or thereabouts, currently had 15 goals this league campaign.
If given the chance by Dunga, he could just have a lead role at the main events
Another star American on the list, Clint Dempsey has been an integral part of his national team and club team Fulham F.C.
The United States need him in the World Cup as he is known to be a big game player helping Fulham reach the Europa League final.
On the national scene, he was in the U.S squad that got to the 2009 Confederations Cup Final and scored.
Dempsey is a very versatile forward, very creative and is a goal-scoring threat.
Hugo Lloris is a rare breed.
Goal Keepers usually spend the best part of their youth as understudies or on loan at various clubs, but that is not the case for the 23-year-old shot-stopper.
Already a regular for Lyon and France, he helped Lyon get to the semifinals of the Champions League with one of the best defensive records, making saves countless times.
His stock value has increased this campaign, but with the World Cup looming, he could very well be the next best keeper in the World.
If he has a successful campaign it could just be one of those times a keeper was the reason a team went deep in the World Cup
The young Englishman has already made a name for himself at club level with Aston Villa.
He showed so much talent, creativity and an eye for important goals as well as assisting, that he was called up by England manager Fabio Capello.
James Milner might still not get the spotlight if he has a great campaign, but being a very great team player, his teammates will appreciate him every passing moment.
Milner should be recommended a move to a bigger club to strut his stuff at the big stage, preferably after the World Cup where England are favorites.
Antonio Di Natale
Antonio Di Natale might be on the wrong side of 30 at 32, but after scoring 29 goals in the Serie A, he could be Italy's marksman for the World Cup.
Its now or never as he will be 36 by the next World Cup, so the pacy, technically gifted forward better bring his A-game.
Florent Malouda is arguably in the form of his life, helping Chelsea win the Premier League and F.A. Cup.
He has been a nightmare to defenders as his speed and shooting have caused numerous problems for opponents.
Malouda was on the defeated French squad in the 2006 World Cup Final.
Malouda had 12 goals and eight assists, with all the talk about Ribery, Henry and Gourcuff, Malouda could just be as important.
Where do you start with Gonzalo Higuain?
Is it that he has scored 27 goals in 32 games for Madrid, or that he has 2 goals in his 4 appearances for Argentina?
The most deadly part of it all is that the skilled, lethal finisher is that he has Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Diego Milito as team mates in Argentina.
Now you see why he isn't being mentioned as one of the keys to Argentina's progress.