Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

The world's best wingers, from Messi to Robinho

<b>Lionel Messi (Argentina)</b><br/>
How Argentina perform at this World Cup is anyone's guess - up until now they've been in disarray; players have quit the team, they nearly failed to qualify and coach Diego Maradona has been busy dishing out obscenities to the press and getting himself banned from football by Fifa. Yet on the flipside they have the best player in the world among their ranks. Lionel Messi is the heir to his coach, but if he is to take the mantel from Maradona, then he must perform at a World Cup. If he can play like he does for Barcelona, then football fans may be about to witness something very special.
MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 03: Lionel Messi of Argentina plays the ball during the International Friendly match between Germany and Argentina at the Allianz Arena on March 3, 2010 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
The world's most expensive player is sure to be one of the players to watch at this tournament. His pace and eye for goal make him the most threatening player in the world. He may play a more advanced role for Portugal but the former Manchester United No 7 is at his most devastating cutting in from out wide and running at defenders using his trademark step-overs.
Arjen Robben (Holland)
There are doubts over Arjen Robben's fitness, yet the Dutch team have decided to keep him in the squad and hope that he recovers in time to take part in the tournament. Neutrals will certainly be hoping the he gets a chance. While at Chelsea his form was inconsistent and at Real Madrid things didn't work out, but since moving to Bayern Munich, the 29-year-old has begun to fulfil his potential. His incredible goal at Old Trafford eliminated Manchester United from the Champions League while his runs and prowess in front of goal fired his club to a domestic double.
Aaron Lennon (England)
The Tottenham man appears to be England's favoured choice on the right wing. While for so long it appeared to be Theo Walcott, at the last hurdle the Arsenal winger missed the cut. Lennon has unnerving pace and would certainly run Walcott close on that front. But where Walcott's final ball was a major issue, Lennon knows how to find his man in the box - and failing that - has shown he knows where the net is as well.
Franck Ribery (France)
While Arjen Robben was doing it for Bayern Munich on the right, on the other side of the field was Frenchman Franck Ribery. With Thierry Henry fading (and quite possibly starting from the bench), Ribery has moved into pole position as France's most important player. The player is somewhat unloved in his home country but they'll be singing his praises if he can show the sparkling form that saw him linked with a £50m-plus move to Barcelona last summer
Robinho (Brazil)
Yes, the very same Robinho who could be found moping around Eastlands, trying to figure out how he hadn't signed for Chelsea. Robinho's time in the Premier League was not good, and in the end he got his wish and was sent out on loan to Santos in Brazil. But although he will be remembered as one of the worst signings in Premier League history - he had moments that showed just why Manchester City paid over £30m for his services. And for his country, he tends to show those magic moments on a consistent basis.
Milos Krasic (Serbia)
Serbian winger Milos Krasic was in superb form for his club CSKA Moscow last season. In his team's matches in the Champions League, he was the stand out player. Since his excellent performances against Manchester United, he has seen his name regularly linked with a big money move to Old Trafford. Whether the move comes about is anyone's guess - but he won't do his chances any harm with a few good performances at the World Cup
Gervinho (Ivory Coast)
With Didier Drogba looking like an outside bet to make the Ivory Coast team after breaking a bone in his arm, there is a vacancy to be filled with The Elephants. And the man who could take centre stage may be Gervinho. Like many of Ivory Coast's major stars, he's made a name for himself in France. Playing out wide or in a supporting striker role, the Lille man helped his team put together a run that nearly saw them claim the Ligue One title.
Andres Guardado (Mexico)
England fans will have got a glimpse of Guardado during England's recent friendly against Mexico, and the winger showed enough in that match to prove he's a player worth watching at this summer's tournament. Guardado plays for Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga and has this season shown what a quick player he is, with exceptionally tight control. That he is naturally left footed is always a bonus for a team, and it won't have harmed his chances of a speculated move to Real Madrid.
Alexis Sanchez (Chile)
Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez has been dubbed El Nino Maravilla - or The Boy Wonder. He made his debut for the national team at just 17 and now at 21-years-of-age, he's making his first appearance at a World Cup. He's been making a name for himself with Italian outfit Udinese, while spells with Colo Colo in his home nation and River Plate in Argentina haven't done his progress any harm either. Sanchez's great pace and short build make him a difficult proposition for defenders.

Over the last few weeks we've been running down the key people and factors to keep an eye out for in South Africa with our World Cup Watch series.

>>Click on the image to launch our guide.

From free-kick takers to WAGs, blasts from the past to the youngsters, we've just about covered it before things kick-off in Johannesburg.

Today, we take a look at the speedy wingers who'll be tormenting defenders in South Africa.

Source: Independent

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