This is a list composed of players that haven’t really garnered a great deal of fuss in the build-up to this tournament but could well prove decisive in this tournament for their country. Some you may have heard of, and some maybe new to you.
Alexis Rolin – Uruguay
Rolin should play at the heart of the Uruguayan defence alongside Liverpool’s Coates. The left-footed centre-back is a powerhouse – explosive off the mark, composed and fearless in his tackles. He comes into the tournament after a strong season with Nacional in the domestic Uruguayan league. His strong performances in this season’s Copa Libertadores also attracted strong interest from both Roma and Inter Milan. This tournament is the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his ability to the world and do not be surprised to see him playing for a major club very soon.
Isco – Spain
Isco is one of the most highly rated Spanish youngsters in circulation at the moment. A wonderfully creative and intelligent player that shares many attributes with his Malaga team-mate Santi Cazorla. He likes to drift all over the pitch to become involved wherever he can. The chemistry he forms with Muniain could be something spectacular.
Ki Sung-Yueng – South Korea
The Celtic midfielder won Asian Young Player of the Year in 2009. Ki has recently been linked to both Liverpool and Rubin Kazan for a fee of £7m. At home with both his right and left foot, he also has a penchant for zipped long-range passes and scoring the occasional screamer from distance. A player who possesses very few weaknesses, Ki can be used as a deep-lying playmaker or as a box-to-box midfielder. His stint with Celtic has helped add to a lot of grit to his game. He will be the heartbeat of this South Korean side.
Gaston Ramirez – Uruguay
Ramirez is one of the young rising stars of Serie A, his reputation growing by the day. Relatively unknown before he arrived at Bologna, the Italian club are now demanding a fee of at least £15m before they even let negotiations on the player begin. Reports have emerged over the past few hours of his agent meeting with Liverpool to discuss his client. If Ramirez shows in this tournament what he has been showing everyone in Serie A for the past two season, Liverpool fans will have something to get very excited about. Uruguay looked very strong for this tournament.
Ander Herrera – Spain
The central midfielder is one of the starlets that made Bielsa’s Atheltic Bilbao so mesmerizing to watch last season. Although the overwhelming majority of praise gets lavished on Muniain and Llorente, Herrera’s contribution is not far behind. He has already achieve success with the Spanish under-21 side at last summer’s European Championship. He is not shy to verticalize possession and break into the opposing final third from midfield with late runs. He has proved to be a big player for Spain at youth level, scoring some of their most important goals over the past three years. Don’t be surprised to see him to do the same again in a time of the all-conquering Spain.
Romulo – Brazil
All of the pre-tournament hype surrounding Brazil has been focused on the likes of Ganso, Oscar and Neymar. Romulo has entered the tournament under the radar but he has beaten off some serious talent to get to this tournament. Not long ago the likes of Sao Paulo’s Casemiro and Corinthians’ Paulinho would have been well ahead of Romulo in the queue for this a spot in this squad. Romulo’s break-out season was in 2011 when he played a crucial role in Vasco’s title bid. He has carried that form into 2012 and after a strong links to Inter Milan, he has now signed for Unai Emery’s Spartak Moscow. It is unclear yet whether the presence of Sandro will keep Romulo on the bench.
Also, keep an eye out for:
Alex Sandro (Brazil)
Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)
Diego Rodriguez (Uruguay)
Ramon Arias (Uruguay)