In the great melting pot that is the dealchecker office there are two things on our minds: the World Cup draw and Christmas. Carols blaring, I’ve got the task of sifting through the greatest players in the world, deciding who might play an important role in the World Cup in Brazil, and munching gingerbread whilst I do it. Woe is me.
For Christmas we’re asking do you like to stay at home or go away? #BeachorCouch and it’s inspired me to see where the incredible footballing talent that will be on show in Brazil has sprung up from.
Ronaldo – Portugal
Full name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
Birthplace: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Club team: Real Madrid CF
Hailing from the tiny island of Madeira, Ronaldo has come far from his small town roots. Formerly of Manchester United, he now plays for Real Madrid and is the captain of Portugal. He brought his team almost single-handedly through the qualification, particularly shining in the playoffs where he scored a hattrick in the second leg.
Home: Back home in Funchal, the Monte Palace which features gorgeous Japanese gardens is the main attraction.
Suarez – Uruguay
Full name: Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz
Birthplace: Salto, Uruguay
Club team: Liverpool FC
Liverpool’s goal machine will be hoping to continue hitting the back of the net for Uruguay in Brazil. With 13 goals to his name in the Premier League so far this season – despite serving a 10-match ban at the start of it – he’s in fact got more goals than three teams have scored collectively!
Home: He grew up in Montevideo, the capital of the country, where the Ciudad Vieja – the Old Town – is a must-see.
Ozil – Germany
Full name: Mesut Ozil
Birthplace: Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Club team: Arsenal FC
Position: Attacking Midfielder
At £42.5 million he’s the most expensive German footballer ever…so no pressure! Germany have been rebuilding after not winning a major trophy in..oh…years and he’ll certainly play a key part. Best known for his incredible number of assists, after his move from Real Madrid it was Ronaldo who was most upset – worrying he’d miss the help.
Home: Growing up in Gelsenkirchen, surrounded by majestic castles, his career started properly when he signed for Schalke 04.
Falcao – Colombia
Full name: Radamel Falcao García Zárate
Birthplace: Santa Marta, Colombia
Club team: AS Monaco
Reckoned by many to be one of the deadliest finishers in the game at the moment, eyes will be on Falcao as he plays for Colombia. His goals-per-minute ratio exceeds even Messi and Ronaldo’s and he was the first player ever to score a hat-trick in the UEFA Super Cup.
Home: Born near to Bucaramanga, this city has the reputation for being the most beautiful in the whole of Colombia, largely due to its huge number of parks.
Messi – Argentina
Full name: Lionel Andrés Messi
Birthplace: Rosaria, Argentina
Club team: FC Barcelona
Probably the world’s best known footballer and said by many to be the best player ever, if Argentina want to win the World Cup they will need their man to be on song. The superlatives have long since been exhausted when it comes to describing Messi, who has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the past three years and the FIFA Player of The Year award the year before that.
Home: Hailing from Rosario, where the neoclassical architecture abounds in a stunning city, Messi now lives in no-less-beautiful Barcelona.
Toure – Ivory Coast
Full name: Gnégnéri Yaya Touré
Birthplace: Bouake, Ivory Coast
Club team: Manchester City FC
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is the middle brother of three footballing stars and this Ivory Coast international will hope his current goal-scoring form will continue in Brazil. He was voted African Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and was part of the 2009 Barcelona team who won six trophies in one calendar year!
Home: Back home, the incredible Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve is the main draw for visitors to the Ivory Coast.
Hazard – Belgium
Full name: Eden Hazard
Birthplace: La Louviere, Belgium
Club team: Chelsea FC
Many people are tipping Belgium to have a stellar World Cup, and with so much talent at the moment we can’t help but agree! Hazard is arguably the brightest of stars, playing for Chelsea. He made his full international debut at the tender age of 17 years and 316 days but has yet to hit his stride in international colours.
Home: He hails from La Louviere, which is best known for its coal mining. Today you can see boat lifts from around 1900 on the Canal du Centre.
Neymar – Brazil
Full name: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnio
Birthplace: Mogi das Cruzes, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Club team: FC Barcelona
Winner in 2011 and 2012 of South American Footballer of the Year, the 2013 Confederations Cup Best Player and current Barcelona player, you’d think he’d be used to pressure – but he ain’t seen nothing yet. He was the top scorer in the 2011 Youth World Cup so he’ll be hoping this can translate onto the biggest stage of them all.
Home: Born in Mogi das Cruzes in Sao Paulo, there is bound to be a special outpouring of love here just for him. Get involved by checking out our Sao Paulo World Cup page.
Lewandowski – Poland
Full name: Robert Lewandowski
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Club team: Borussia Dortmund
Most usually seen in Borussia Dortmund’s trademark bright yellow, this striker has been in great form for his club but less so for his country. He’s scored 65 goals for BVB with 112 games under his belt, but only 18 for Poland in 56 appearances and has only scored twice since Euro 2012, both penalties.
Home: Warsaw is where he calls home, and in this beautiful city the jewel in the crown is Wilanow Palace which dates back to 1696.
Hernandez – Mexico
Full name: Javier Hernández Balcázar
Birthplace: Guadalajara, Mexico
Club team: Manchester United
Better known as Chicharito, which translates as Little Pea, this Mexican footballer was named as the most valuable player at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2011 – winning this is how Mexico qualified. Currently in the rotation at Manchester United he will be hoping that David Moyes gives him more games as the season goes on so he can get some goals, but England fans would rather Wayne Rooney keeps his spot instead!
Home: He comes from Guadalajara, whose historic downtown area is jam-packed with incredible buildings.
One we’re missing… Ibrahimovic – Sweden
Full name: Zlatan Ibrahimović
Birthplace: Malmo, Sweden
Club team: Paris Saint-Germain
When Sweden were drawn against Portugal in the playoffs to get to the Finals, we knew either Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic, two of football’s biggest personalities, would be missing. Sweden faltered and Ibra will be watching from home. This player is one of the most controversial in world football, having been caught on film kicking not one, but three team mates. He’s been part of teams that have won the league in Spain, Italy and France and has 96 international goals.
Home: He’s originally from Malmo, most lately made famous by The Bridge, and in fact the Oresund Bridge is one of the city’s highlights.
Front page image Russell C