World braced for wave of new Euro talent
01 June 2012 | Fahraaz Patel
This column looks at 10 players to watch out for when the Euro 2012 hits Eastern Europe.
10 Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle, France)
One of the key figures in Alan Pardew’s revival at Newcastle, Cabaye has established himself as the midfield general for French coach Laurent Blanc and has already earned 11 caps for Les Bleus.
With the national team’s defence not that extraordinary, the 26-year-old will play a key role in stopping any direct play from opponents.
9 Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax, Netherlands)
One of the best right-backs in the world and hailed as the successor to Dutch legend Michel Reiziger, Van der Wiel has developed both his defensive and attacking sides and should his threatening partnership with Arjen Robben on the right-hand side gel, this will be key in leading the attacks from the wings.
8 Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow, Russia)
Probably the most talented player in Russia, the 22-year-old possesses everything a playmaker needs, skill, pace, defence-splitting passes and a wonderful shot. Russian coach Dick Advocaat needs to change his preferred 4-3-3 system to one that will not only include Dzagoev, but gets the best of his talent.
7 Christian Eriksen (Ajax, Denmark)
The new Danish wonderkid has taken Europe by storm with his pace, skill and creative brain and has been labelled the heir to Danish legends Michael and Brian Laudrup. With coach Morton Olsen’s philosophy of attacking football, Eriksen will be vital in leading the Danish Dynamite.
6 Nikica Jelavic (Everton, Croatia)
Signed during the January transfer window by Everton from Rangers, he made an immediate impact scoring 11 goals in 16 games for the Toffees. Praised as the new Davor Suker by the Croatian media, Jelavic knows too well the expectations that come with the tag but he has all the qualities of the Croat great with his pace and eye for goal. Coach Slaven Bilic – with other strikers off-form – should include him in the starting XI.
5 Jordi Alba (Valencia, Spain)
Seen as a mobile player on the left-hand side, he was done a great job as left-back for both Valencia and Spain but is the only player in his position for coach Vicente Del Bosque.
Alba will surely be bombing down the left flank and with his defensive mentality, he has been well integrated in Spain’s tiki-taka style.
4 Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund, Poland)
With 30 goals in 46 games in all competitions for German domestic double winners Dortmund, he has established himself as one of the most talented forwards in the world with his strength, height and technical ability. Polish coach Franciszek Smuda has built the national team around the striker and, with the coach playing his 4-2-3-1 system using playmaker Ludovic Obraniak behind Lewandowski, this pair could be vital in leading the co-hosts to an expected quarterfinal place.
3 Ashley Young (Manchester United, England)
One of only three quality wingers for the Three Lions, Young’s trickery, pace and goal-scoring ability will be vital in Roy Hogdson’s system based on organisation and hitting teams on the counter. This is an England team where there are few expectations, but the United winger relishes the big stage and will provide a stern performance at the tournament.
2 Marco Reus (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany).
Joachim Loew has developed one of the most talented teams in the world, and Reus fits perfectly. Used as a winger by Germany which, his pace, trickery and hunger for goals terrorises fullbacks and he has formed a great understanding with right-back, skipper Phillip Lahm.
1 Sebastian Giovincho (Parma, Italy)
Known as the “Atomic Ant”, Giovincho possesses dribbling and playmaking skills but lacks one aspect – athleticism, something he shares with many Italian footballers. Nevertheless, he is one of the most talented and highly-rated players in the squad, but it’s up to coach Cesare Prandellli to use a system that will cater for Giovincho in an attacking midfielder role.
He does well linking up with a lone striker, but whether Prandelli will use that system, remains to be seen.
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