Soccer

Five Players You Will Know After EURO 2012

With EURO 2012 just around the corner there is a scramble to write up team previews. Every pocket of European community within major towns club together; Flag sales go through the roof; nations out with Europe turn to see what is going on.

This last point is particularly relevant because those who only catch glimpses of the Champions League soccer want to see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie. However, there are bound to be a few names that are not yet globally renowned. Here are five names that should be known allover when the final whistle goes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal, England)

Known as the ‘Ox’, this fleet-footed Arsenal starlet may not start right away. He will, however, comes on and trouble defenders. As a supplementary winger or direct midfield runner he pulls players out of position. He is confident, he is skillful and he is the kind of man England need to run and run when the long ball to Carroll is not quite cutting it.

Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus, Italy)

Giaccherini is probably the most obscure player on this list, and most likely the biggest gamble. Late to top flight football the midfielder has been in impressive form for Italian champions Juventus this season. The squad has recently been rocked by allegations of match fixing against some of the players, and they could fall apart.

If this does happen then Giaccherini could break into the team. He is quick, he targets defenders and he is an unknown quantity. He will either become a bolter and cult figure or he will fade back into anonymity. I’ll admit this call could blow up in my face…

Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao, Spain)

Although widely known in Europe (he is fearfully referred to with the moniker ‘The Lion King’ in Spain) this powerful, poaching striker has been left in the international shadows because of the rise of players like David Villa and Fernando Torres.

This season, though, he has led the line for the aesthetically galling Athletic Bilbao side the smote Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League. Now Torres is in flux, Villa is injured and Llorente will be Spain’s main threat. He should be on a lot of people’s radar soon enough. He could become synonymous with EURO 2012, like Zinedine Zidane was with World Cup ’98.

Olivier Giroud (Montpellier, France)

An integral part of the triumphant Montpellier side who upset the odds in France, their sharpshooter is now being touted as part of the national side’s new deadly partnership, alongside Karim Benzema of Real Madrid.

He has an uncanny ability to sense where he should make runs and he is liked within a camp historically known for disharmony. He could cap an audacious season with fine performances for France. He was already expected to leave Montpellier after this year, but the 26-year-old may add a few figures to his price tag shortly.

Alan Dzagoyev (CSKA Moscow, Russia)

At only 21 and a product of the Russian system you may be excused for not knowing who this fella is. Yet he is tipped for big things.

He pulls the strings for a Russia side already relying on Roman Pavyluchenko and Andrei Arshavin to make plays happen. The CSKA playmaker has had an imperial qualification run in the middle of Russia’s midfield and he can produce pearling crosses. He is said to be on Jose Mourinho’s shortlist of future transfer targets. After the first game against the Czech Republic he may have already set himself up nicely for the future.