Brazil 2014: The Underdog XI

After weeks and weeks of speculation the world cup is finally upon us. Arguments will be proved correct, beers will be sunk and more than likely England will disappoint again.

Today I look to go beyond the most common debates of the tournament winner and who will prove the most out of Messi and Ronaldo. I am exploring some of the lesser known players as I try to create an underdog 11 from teams less likely to progress through the group stages.

Vincent Enyeama (GK) – The number one goalkeeper for Nigeria and in all seriousness lucky to be alive. In 2004 he was the passenger in an accident that sadly killed 2 and left another fighting for his life, Vincent walked away with just bruises. No African team have ever won the world cup and at odds of 300/1 it is unlikely they will challenge the organisers too much. However they did win the African Cup of Nations last year and with Enyeama captaining that side expect him to be full of confidence.

Hong Jeong-ho (DF) – Hong is a South Korean defenders who plays his club football for FC Augsburg in the German Bundesliga. He cost them appox 2 million Euros and has helped to keep them in the top league. Hong is not clear of controversy and in 2011 was plunged in to a match fixing scandal. It was proved 4 Million dollars had been paid to him, however as the money had been returned he was cleared of any wrong doing.

Giannis Maniatis (DF) – Capped 30 times for Greece since making his debut in 2010 Giannis has had an exceptional season with Olymiakos which is the reason he made it into the 23 man squad. Expect him to be a key figure as he draws on his 4 league titles for experience. Like many English players Giannis has spent his entire career playing in his native country.

Emilio Izaguirre (DF) – A regular in the Celtic team since joining Emilio has accumulated a total of 5 trophies in his 3 years. Although this was easier with the absence of Rangers he still managed to claim 4 player of the year awards in his debut season in 2011. Izaguirre was an important player in qualification for Honduras and kept Premier League Stalwart Maynor Figueroa out of the left back position.

Samuel Inkoom (DF) – A defender for Ghana Samuel has found himself surplus to requirements at Dnipro and has recently been on loan to both French and Greek teams. Originally a youth product of the Juventus academy he was released early on and has since gone on to feature for Basel in the Swiss league. Dnipro fans may remember him best for a controversial red card in a league game when he was booked for taking his shirt off as he was being substituted. This was a second yellow resulting in a red card meaning the replacement could not come on.

Alex Song(MF)– Playing for Cameroon and Barcelona you may argue that Alex should not be a player in the underdog 11, however every team needs a captain. With Mexico, Croatia and hosts Brazil in their group Cameroon will have to go some to qualify and a performance of real leadership will be required from Alex and co.

Tommy Oar (MF) – Tommy plays for FC Utrecht in Dutch League. As a midfielder he is relatively unknown and at only 22 years old is a real prospect for Australia. A regular for his club team in recent years he has become an important part of his team and I honestly believe he could be one of the players securing a move to a bigger team after the competition. He featured in the U20 2011 World cup and walked away with the Fifa goal of the tournament.

Celso Borges (MF) – Celso is a goal scoring midfielder who plays for Swedish league challengers AIK. He signed for the club in 2012 and overall in his club career has scored on average a goal every 4 games. Celso has only one weakness which is his nationality, Costa Rica are expected to be the team everyone else beats, however should they manage many attacks expect this player to trouble the opposition goalkeeper.

Nabil Bentaleb (MF) – Some premier league fans may recognize the name of this player as he is registered to Tottenham Hotspur. He committed his international allegiance to Algeria earlier in 2014 and has since featured 3 times. Although he has not played much for Spurs yet expect him to play a large part in the finals even if it is only from the bench as they look to utlise his energy in the blistering heat.

Reza Ghoochannejhad (ST) – An odd choice and currently playing for Championship outfit Charlton. Since 2011 when Carlos Quieroz was appointed Iran manager they have seen something of an upturn in results. Whilst Reza has not commonly trouble the scoreboard in 6 months at the Valley he has scored 10 in 14 for Iran. Don’t expect miracles but if Iran cause any upsets expect this man to be the reason why.

Keisuke Honda (ST) – A regular in the first team for Japan since 2008 Honda has accrued over 50 caps for his team. Whilst Honda could be the classed as one of the highest profile player on this list he is still playing for a team ranked 46th in the World. He plays as an attacking midfielder or striker and seems to be finding the net for Japan more recently. Of his 22 international goals 8 came in 2013 and he already has 2 in 4 in 2014. Watch this space as he looks to drive his team on in the tournament.

So there we have it, a dream team with a difference. Will they live up the billing? Will they even play a game? Only time will tell, so let us sit back and enjoy the greatest show on Earth.