An absolutely mouth-watering clash in the Stade Gerland this evening as the Galactico’s of Real Madrid take on the team that got the better of them last season Olympique Lyon. Martin Michelot writer for Ligue 1 Talk is confident of the home sides chances.

At the moment of the draw, Lyon fans wanted to avoid two teams: Barcelona and Real Madrid. The former for all the obvious reasons, and the latter because Real Madrid bears a sense of déjà-vu for Lyon fans. The two teams have played each other 6 times in the past 5 years; Lyon has the bragging rights as Les Gones have never lost against the Madridistas, and dealt the Casa Blanca a serious blow last season by eliminating them at the same stage of the competition. Lyon would eventually exit to the hands of Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.

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Only 4 days now till the big kick off, and I can’t wait, every four years there are players that play great, players that don’t live up to the hype, and players that come from nowhere to entertain, and this is what makes it the greatest tournament on Earth.

I have picked out 32 players, 1 from each team that I will be keeping my eye on throughout the 4 weeks, some that are already known by everyone, some unknown, some I have never seen and can’t wait to catch them playing, for whatever reason, I hope some of those players catch your eye too, and light up South Africa for all the right reasons.

32 players all at once is too much to digest, so I will split it up into 4 days, concluding on Friday before the ceremonies begin.


Bernard Parker – South Africa – 29 caps (9 goals)

This 24 year old plays his club football for Dutch Champions FC Twente, played 10 games this season and failed to score, his luck has been better for the national team, scoring twice against New Zealand in the Confederations Cup on home soil, then 2 friendly goals against Thailand and Guatemala in the run up to the World Cup.

A player I have never seen, decent reports though, good pace, can play on the wing or upfront, could cause some damage to Uruguay and Mexico.

Javier Hernandez – Mexico – 12 caps (7 goals)

A player that will be watched by half of Manchester this summer, Javier recently had his Work Permit approved and officially signed for Manchester United, Only 22 years old “Fergie” could have unearthed a gem known as “Chicharito” to the eye he looks small reported at 5 foot 7, his size does not let him down, and regularly scores with his head, small and strong, quite fast, looking forward to seeing more of him.

Nicolas Lodeiro – Uruguay – 3 caps (0 goals)

Although not experience for club or country I have heard lots of good things about Nicolas, the ability to beat players with skill and pace, able to play anywhere in midfield, can use both feet but has a lethal left foot, all these reports make me excited to watch him play, wasn’t able to see any of his 5 appearances for Ajax after his January move, at only 21 he has plenty of time to make a name in the Dutch Eredivisie.

It seems to be between Nicolas and Nacho Gonzalez for the starting spot I hope to see Nicolas line up against France on June 11th.

Mathieu Valbuena – France – 2 caps (1 goal)

Maybe a bit of a surprise selection for Les Bleus for outsiders, but for me Mathieu deserves his place in the 23 man squad, great performances for Marseille in their run to the title this year, whilst people were being linked with Ben Arfa, Valbuena continued to mesmerise defenders and score goals in the process, really tricky winger, low centre of gravity and pace to burn.

He couldn’t have asked for a better International debut either coming on against Costa Rica as a sub, and 16 minutes later he had scored the winning goal, If he gets a chance to play I can see big things happening, luckily for Marseille they have him tied up till 2013.


Angel Di Maria – Argentina – 8 caps (1 goal)

I think like most people I have known the name for quite a while, regrettably I’ve not seen as much as I would have liked of the Argentine winger, my first memory of him is the fantastic chip over the Nigerian keeper in the 2008 Olympic Final in Beijing, a superb finish.

In the recent friendly against Canada he scored his first International goal, and he is touted to be a star of this World Cup, every transfer window he is linked with moves to all the big clubs maybe his performances will excite them to pay the €40 million minimum release fee, reports are he’s already talking of a move to Real Madrid, one to watch.

Peter Odemwingie – Nigeria – 47 caps (9 goals)

Someone who is not going to move for a massive transfer fee after the tournament, however a player I really enjoy watching, part of the Lille team that made me fall in love with them, good in the air, pace, can finish and can play anywhere on the front line, be it on the wing or as a striker, could be a name that flourishes for Nigeria, it’s unsure whether Lara Lagerback will play him, an experienced head in the team he was the captain for the 2010 African Cup of Nations when Nigeria got to the Semi-Finals.

Ki Sung-Yong – South Korea – 20 caps (4 goals)

This one is more of a personal scouting mission, signed by Celtic in August 2009 he moved in the January transfer window, and made 10 appearances, from what I’ve seen he looks a very talented player, poise on the ball, great technique and great from set-pieces, I am interested to see what he plays like for his national team, and hopefully has a good summer, ready for a push at the Celtic first-team next season.

Vasilis Torosidis – Greece – 26 caps (2 goals)

Another player that I have heard loads about and lots of good reports but never actually seen play, a major factor in Olympiakos team, can play as a fullback, centre back or this season he has been playing in central midfield also, again always linked to all the big teams could be a very good signing if the rumoured €7 million fixed fee is correct, Olympiakos may regret that after the tournament.