With only four matches left in another glorious edition of the World Cup, a new champion of the tournament will be crowned soon. Another competition is heating up in Brazil as the Golden Ball is still up for the taking.
Neymar’s injury unfortunately has him out for the remainder of the World Cup while ruining the chance of the 22-year-old winning the award in his homeland. Neymar still may receive plenty of votes because he was the face of Brazil and had the duty of being the primary goalscorer, scoring four of Selecao’s 10 goals, and being the creative mind for his country.
Even though Colombia lost in the quarterfinals, James Rodriguez still leads the tournament with six goals and emerged as the latest rising star to take the competition by storm. Unfortunately, Ligue 1’s 2013-14 leader in assists will most likely not win the Golden Ball because the trophy has not gone to anyone whose team didn’t at least play in the semifinals. This leaves four world class players who have a chance on Tuesday and Wednesday to move closer to winning the esteemed award.
David Luiz wouldn’t be on the radar for the prestigious honor if not for the unique circumstance he finds himself on Tuesday. Paris Saint-Germain’s latest signee will be without his partner in central defense and the team’s captain Thiago Silva due to a yellow card suspension. Many pundits believe that Luiz plays so much better for his country than for club because Silva is a calming presence that helps maintain the 27-year-old’s focus and without him, Luiz has the chance to prove critics that he has the ability to play well with anyone. The 2011-12 Champions League winner is known for his prowess in attack and technical skills due to his incredible goal from a direct free kick against Colombia, and he has two goals in the tournament. Another goal and solid defensive work in an upset victory over Germany can make Luiz a darkhorse contender for the prize if Brazil can win the World Cup.
Thomas Muller’s started the tournament on fire as he scored a hat trick against Portugal. Since then, the 24-year-old scored one more goal in the group stage against the U.S. and hasn’t been a threat to score since. Because Muller is a versatile player, he’s still been a threat in attack while using his impeccable understanding of positioning to provide two assists. Germany defeated France in the quarterfinals by reverting back to their old philosophy of playing solid defense and grinding out a result but they may go back to manager Joachim Low’s style of attacking soccer with intricate passing. If Muller can find his goal scoring form of the beginning of the World Cup and Germany wins their fourth World Cup, then he has a solid chance of winning the award.