World Cup 2014: Eight players from the 2013 U-20 World Cup who will take the field in Brazil 2014
DeAndre Yedlin’s inclusion in Jurgen Klinsmann’s final roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil may have been a surprise to some, but now that the Seattle native is on the team he joins the prestigious company. This isn’t Yedlin’s first World Cup. It may be his first senior tournament, but he took part in last summer’s under-20 World Cup.
The Sounders’ right back is one of eight players from that tournament to also make it to Brazil this summer. Here are the others.
Normally a 20 year-old left back with two international caps to his name and isn’t a consistent starter for his club team wouldn’t even be in the conversation to make a World Cup roster. This was not the case for Digne. The youngster was a regular starter with Lille before earning a big-money move to French champions PSG. However, the Frenchman was unable to unseat ageless wonder Maxwell as the first choice left back in the French capital.
Digne certainly has enough quality to make the team, but another contributing reason is that France is deep in terms of quality in central defense and a little thin comparatively on the outside. If the former Lille star is already a World Cup player at 20 years young, his career can only go up from here. He has already tasted U-20 World Cup success with France last summer as Les Bleus won it all.
Another 20 year-old who finds himself at the World Cup after last summer’s U-20s is Greek keeper Stefanos Kapino. The Panathinaikos shot stopper is certainly the future of Greek football in goal. While he won’t unseat La Liga vet Orestis Karnezis, he will gain valuable experience just from being in Brazil.
The Greeks will look to emulate and build upon the success Kapino led his country to at the U-20s where the team won their group before crashing out in the round of 16. Greece has been gifted with a winnable group, and if they perform well, a quarterfinals appearance certainly isn’t too far out of the question.
Juan Fernando Quintero
Quintero’s Columbia will be matched up with Kapino’s Greece in Group C. If it’s winnable for Greece, it’s even more winnable for Columbia. Already an established first teamer with European and Portuguese giant Porto, Quintero dons the number 10 for Porto and is one of a bevy of talented midfielder’s at Columbian coach Jose Pekerman’s disposal. Like the Greeks, the Columbians left the U-20s in the round of 16. Also like the Greeks, a quarterfinal appearance certainly isn’t out of the question.
The second Frenchman on this list, Juve midfield ace Pogba is one of the world’s best up and coming players. It would surprise no one to see Pogba win a Ballon d’Or or two down the road. Simply put, he can do everything. He’s a physical threat on headers and off of set pieces, and he has a cannon of a shot from distance. Pogba was awarded the Golden Ball award of the U-20s, an award given to the tournament’s best player. Similar to their Greek and Columbian counterparts, the French have been handed a soft group compared to others in the tournament. Even without star midfielder Franck Ribbery, the French will be a force to be reckoned with in Brazil.
Jose Maria Gimenez
Uruguayan defender Jose Maria Gimenez may not be the most recognizable name on this list, but his accomplishments so far should speak for themselves. At the tender age of 19 he is already on a World Cup squad. And not just any squad, one that could make a legitimate run to the title. Not only is Gimenez a full Uruguayan international, he also earned a move to Champions League runner-up Atletico Madrid before the age of 21. The center back will be at the ready in Brazil as the Uruguayans will look to fend off the likes of Wayne Rooney, Mario Balotelli, Daniel Sturridge and Ciro Immobile in the group stages. Should they get farther, the opposing attacking talent only gets more difficult. The Uruguayans finished as runners up in the U-20, losing to France on penalties. I’m sure that Uruguay would take a similar result given how they barely qualified to attend Brazil 2014.
Rebic, only 20, could have a big part to play at the World Cup. While he likely won’t start up front for the Croatians, he could find an opportunity to come on as a late substitute and make an impact on the games. Goals and results will be hugely important for the European representatives as they will look to escape a group that includes host nation Brazil and wild card Mexico. Like others on this list he has already earned a move to a big club at such a young age. The Croatian plies his trade in Serie A with Tuscan powerhouse Fiorentina. Rebic was part of a Croatian U-20 squad that progressed to the round of 16. This could be what’s in store for the senior Croatians as they’ll play one of Spain, the Netherlands or Chile in the second round. They could be considered underdogs in all three games.
Everton dynamo Ross Barkley is the last player on this list who made the jump from the U-20s to the senior World Cup in only a year. Unlike most of these talented youngsters, Barkley started his career at a big club, Everton. The midfielder is seemingly the subject of transfer bids by every big spending club in England on a weekly basis. Barkley’s English squad failed to make it out of the group stage at the U-20s. Sadly this is a fate that could befall them once again. The Three Lions no doubt have talent, but whether that talent is given ample playing time remains to be seen.
Some of these players will be prominent contributors to their respective countries’ hopes at the World Cup while some won’t sniff the field. The bottom line is that these are eight of the world’s best young footballers who have achieved an amazing feat.