Top 20 Players Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup
Top 20 Players Who May Be Playing At Brazil 2014
With the World Cup qualifying on the verge of ending, the World's most watched sporting event is just under a year away from commencing. Although most of us find nothing more enjoyable than club football, the summer hype and daily games for a month of a World Cup is something that you just can't replicate.
It's countries from all over the globe battling it out with the best players on the planet for national success. At the time of writing, several teams have already clinched their place at the finals via their qualifying routes, but the road is still ongoing for some. There are still groups to be won in Europe, but as 2013 draws to a close, the majority of the places will be made up by the playoffs for the different nations of each continent.
This slideshow points out the players who look like they will be at that World Cup with a year to go, whether they have managed to secure qualification already or if they have a playoff bout still to fight. I haven't included those who we won't see at the World Cup next year such as Gareth Bale, as his nation, Wales have already failed to qualify.
Of course, such a matter varies in opinion but to wet your appetite with a year to go, here are 20 of the best players to already look forward to who may be putting on the greatest show on earth next summer. I've tried to include a little bit of a mix of continents, but as we all know, there will be players who emerge next year that we never really expected to.
Stowe Gregory is a Soccer and Sports writer for Rantsports.com. Tweet or follow him @stowegregory
18. Wayne Rooney (England)
Despite what people say, Rooney is still a player that England cannot be without. The Manchester United forward has struggled in recent seasons, but his international record speaks for itself. If he can hit the heights of his best days again, England have a real bonus. They must qualify first, of course.
16. Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
Despite being 34, the Juventus midfielder just seems to ooze class at the international level. His calmness on the ball and ability to dictate the tempo mean you have to include him in the list of top midfielders. Don't forget his free kick abilities too.
15. Thiago Silva (Brazil)
As the hosts have automatically qualified, their hopes and expectations are incredibly high. Brazilians love their captain though and the PSG defender is coming to the age where he is playing his best football now at 29. A lot rests on his shoulders, but he is a rock.
14. Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)
The entire African continent gets behind its nations when a World Cup is on, and Yaya Toure is one of the standout figures representing them. His power and box-to-box qualities mean we know he will be in the thick of it if his country manages to qualify via the playoffs.
13. Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
It looks like the Liverpool striker will be playing at his second World Cup as Uruguay are on the verge of qualifying. Having been sent off in the quarterfinals of the previous tournament for a handball on the line, he will want to prove to the world just how good a player he can be when other issues don't get in the way. He is one of the best strikers in the world.
12. Gerard Pique (Spain)
Spain will be at the World Cup unless a major shock happens as qualifying comes to an end. Their dominance over the past fives years has been due to many factors, but one man has been at the heart of their defense through a lot of it: Pique. The Barcelona defender is ridiculously good and is one of the standout players in any major tournament.
10. Arjen Robben (Holland)
Dutch man Robben is one of many Bayern Munich players to make this list due to their incredible variety of talent. Robben seems to replicate his form for his club on the international stage time and time again. What's more is that he is a big-game player.
8. Franck Ribery (France)
The final Bayern Munich player in this list is the man who was voted the best player in Europe for the 2012-13 season. The Frenchman has been very impressive over the past year for his club, but struggles to mirror that for France. However, you cannot deny he is one of the best players in the world. The only thing in his way of his third World Cup is the fact that France must overcome a playoff.
5. Mesut Ozil (Germany)
Ozil is arguably the best attacking midfielder in the world. It is crazy that Real MadridArsenal in the summer, but he has began in London with style. His swagger, creative ease, balance and incredible assist rate means he is set to be one of the greatest players at next year's World Cup.
2. Cristinano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Ronaldo, as we all know, is the complete forward. He is something unique and we are fortunate to have him around. It will be a real shame if Portugal don't make it to the World Cup as a playoff stands in their way. A World Cup without Ronaldo is not quite the same spectacle.
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Messi is one of, if not the greatest player to have ever played the game. He has struggled at international level to bring his nation glory, but going into the 2014 World Cup, all eyes will be watching just what he has to show.