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Unlikely Stars of the World Cup – No. 1: Humberto “Chupete” Suazo

February 15, 2010 1 comment

As part of this blog’s 2010 World Cup preparations, this is the first in a series of posts looking at players who, despite not always receiving the greatest degree of media attention, may perform particularly well – an alternative XI in its own way. Clearly, these are not players that are completely unknown quantities but, rather, those who are unlikely to feature in much of the pre-tournament hype. As an aside, this blog will compare the World Cup performance of its own standard XI (one similar to those found throughout the wider media) to this alternative at the end of the tournament and draw conclusions as to which team experienced greater success overall.

Before profiling this blog’s first choice, it seems appropriate at this point to list (in formation) the more typical XI of players likely to (and expected to) prove stars at the 2010 World Cup (injuries withstanding):

GK: Iker Casillas (Spain)a pretty obvious choice. Starts in the pre-tournament-favourite-team with a particularly solid defence and no little amount of talent himself.

RB: Maicon (Brazil) – this will, somewhat surprisingly, be his first World Cup. Again, playing in a highly fancied team – a ridiculously talented right-sided fullback/wingback.

RCB: Carlos Puyol (Spain) – the key aspect of Spain’s strong defence.

LCB: Rio Ferdinand (England) – returning from injury and appears to have recovered extremely well. Back to his best and vital for England’s overall chances.

LB: Philipp Lahm (Germany) – in the likely absence (or at least relatively unfit state) of Ashley Cole, Lahm is usually both a dependable defender and dangerous attacking threat.

RM/RW/anywhere: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – clearly it’s somewhat pointless to ascribed a set position for Ronaldo given his tendency to play all over the pitch. Has become an even better player at Real, if a little more aggressive.

DM: Andrea Pirlo (Italy) – crafts countless opportunities for those further forward. A close choice between Pirlo and Xabi Alonso, but the former possesses the greater attacking threat.

AM: Lionel Messi (Argentina)probably the best player in the world.

LM: Franck Ribéry (France) – likely to push France on quite far, despite Domenech’s best attempts to sabotage.

RF: Didier Drogba (Côte D’Ivoire) – at his best Drogba is completely unplayable. Needs to perform better than at this year’s African Cup of Nations in Angola but in great form for Chelsea

LF: David Villa (Spain) – despite the British media’s claims to the contrary* Villa is undoubtedly Spain’s number one striker. Performs better in international football than Torres, as is evident when comparing their respective goalscoring records for the Spanish national team (Villa 36 goals in 54 games; Torres 23 in 71.)

On paper, this team is likely to significantly outperform the alternative XI, yet the World Cup very rarely goes entirely to form (see 2002). In the following weeks, this blog will profile each of the choices for the alternative team in depth, giving justifications for why they will prove a success during the summer.

Humberto “Chupete” Suazo (Chile): Centre-Forward

Having knocked around the Chilean Primera División for several years,  Suazo’s big break really came with a move to Colo-Colo of Santiago (Chile’s most famous and successful club), where he proceeded to score 70 goals in 75 games, win the IFFHS award for being the world’s highest goalscorer in 2006, and generally impress with his national team in the 2007 Copa América. A move to Monterrey in Mexico the same summer has coincided with a particularly impressive World Cup qualification campaign – Suazo topped the goalscoring charts for CONMEBOL amongst such highly-rated company as Luis Fabiano and Messi. Now 28 years of age, Suazo has finally made the long-anticipated move to Europe, starring on loan for Spanish La Liga strugglers, Real Zaragoza. His goals have already lifted the team out of the relegation zone. All this would appear to suggest that Suazo is solely a potent goalscorer, yet his all-round approach play is superb. Most similar to Wayne Rooney in style, Suazo is comfortable on the ball and off, his movement, power, and shot technique making him a very very good player, if not truly world class. The move to Europe is one that many talented South American players cannot make work, yet Suazo has immediately adjusted to life at one of the weaker teams in Spain’s top division. The stage is all set for him to impress at the World Cup this summer. Chile are a genuine threat to many more established teams and a relatively gentle group should see them qualify alongside Spain. Their key match may appear to be that against Switzerland on 21 June, yet their final group game against Spain on 25 June may decide the group’s final standings and Chile should not be underestimated.

* witness here The Sun’s preposterous suggestion of Gerrard as the best player in the world!! He’s not even the best midfielder at a poor Liverpool team.