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10 young players who could make a big impact at the World Cup

This group of upstarts might just take Brazil by storm this month.

James Rodriguez, age 22 (Colombia)

COLOMBIA’S ASPIRATIONS TO make a real impact in Brazil have been hit with a significant setback as their star man Radamel Falcao has been ruled out of the finals.

While Porto striker Jackson Martinez is most likely to lead the line in his place, Falcao’s club mate James Rodriguez will be the player tasked with pulling the strings in midfield and creating chances for those in more advanced positions.

Spain Soccer Colombia Tunisia Source: AP/Press Association Images

Marco Verratti, age 21 (Italy) 

Like Rodriguez, Italian midfielder Marco Verratti plies his trade at one of France’s mega-rich two and the former Pescara youngster has made himself a regular fixture in the Paris Saint-Germain team under Laurent Blanc.

Composed on the ball and excellent in the tackle, the deep-lying midfielder must compete with the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Thiago Motta for a spot in Cesare Prandelli’s side but Verratti is sure to establish himself for years to come.

Mideast Israel U21 Europeans Soccer Source: Ariel Schalit

Romelu Lukaku, age 21 (Belgium)

Great things have been expected of this current Belgium team and their target man Romelu Lukuka for some time now and this month’s World Cup, the country’s first in 12 years, is the perfect opportunity to announce themselves.

Farmed out on loan to Everton from Chelsea this season, Lukaku showed Jose Mourinho what he is missing with 16 goals for the Toffees and the physical forward could cause all sorts of problems for Group H opponents Algeria, Russia and South Korea.

Belgium WCup Soccer friendly Source: AP/Press Association Images

William Carvalho, age 22 (Portugal)

The subject of much speculation about a move to the Premier League in recent months, Angolan-born William Carvalho is set to star in this month’s finals for Portugal. Having only made his senior international debut in the World Cup play-off against Sweden, the defensive midfielder has enjoyed a great year at Sporting Lisbon and will be vying for a place alongside the likes of Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles.

Soccer - International Friendly - Portugal v Cameroon - Estadio Dr Magalhaes Pessoa Source: Joe Giddens

Paul Pogba, age 21 (France)

You still regularly hear Manchester United fans bemoan the fact that Alex Ferguson allowed Paul Pogba leave for Juventus and you can’t blame them considering the French international’s rise since his departure in 2012.

The all-action midfielder has established himself with both the Serie A champions and Les Bleus. Vision, technique, physicality and an knack for scoring spectacular goals, Pogba has got it all and should start in a midfield three with Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi.

France Norway Soccer WCup Source: Christophe Ena

Oscar, age 22  (Brazil)

The hosts may not be blessed with an array of world stars like in previous World Cup years but, while Neymar is the poster boy, Luiz Felipe Scolari is resting much of the creative responsibility on the shoulders of number 10 Oscar.

His club boss Jose Mourinho expressed his disappointment with Oscar’s form in the second half of the season but the 22-year-old playmaker insists he is ready for the finals in his homeland.

Soccer - International Friendly - South Africa v Brazil - FNB Stadium Source: Samuel Shivambu

Raheem Sterling, age 19 (England)

Teenager Raheem Sterling comes into his first major tournament with England off the back of an excellent season with Liverpool. Appearing 39 times for the Reds as they took runners-up spot in the Premier League, Sterling showed maturity beyond his years and a fearlessness in attack which Roy Hodgson needs to make use of.

Soccer - International Friendly - England v Denmark - Wembley Stadium Source: Stephen Pond

Julian Draxler, age 20 (Germany)

Schalke’s Julian Draxler and his club mate Benedikt Howedes had a lucky escape after being involved in a car crash at Germany’s training camp last week as the pair were fortunately unharmed.

With the stars such as Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Mario Goetze and Thomas Mueller all competing for places, the 20-year-old faces a tough job to force his way in the starting XI. That said, his talent is in no doubt and Joachim Loew made him the country’s youngest ever captain in a recent friendly with Poland.

Germany Poland Soccer Friendly Source: AP/Press Association Images

Koke, age 22 (Spain)

22-year-old midfielder Koke was an important component in the title-winning Atletico Madrid team which narrowly missed out on the Champions League this season. As well as creating a large chunk of the team’s goals, he was the lynchpin for Atleti and both Vincente Del Bosque and Xavi have suggested that he will become just as important to La Roja in the future.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Atletico Madrid v Barcelona - Vicente Calderon Stadium Source: CORDON/Press Association Images

Jordy Clasie, age 22 (Holland)

A product of Feyenoord’s academy, Jordy Clasie looks to be a young man with a great career ahead of him. Nicknamed the ‘Dutch Xavi’, he generally keeps thing ticking over in the middle of the park but is a fine reader of the game with a superb passing range who also enjoys a tackle.

He may only have a handful of senior caps, but the absence of Kevin Strootman and Raphael van der Vaart from the Dutch squad through injury could result in Clasie being elevated to a more prominent role this summer.

Soccer - UEFA European Under 21 Championship 2013 - Group B - Spain v The Netherlands - Ha Moshava Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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