Lionel Messi – Argentina
Born: 24/6/1987 – Caps 85
There’s not really a lot to be added that hasn’t already been said about the most mercurial talent of his generation.
Lionel Messi is undoubtedly the greatest player the world has seen since his compatriot Diego Maradona, yet he has thus far failed to light up a World Cup with his outrageous skills.
He has perhaps taken a step backwards since the last World Cup in terms of his game-winning brilliance but that could work in his favour and allow the Barcelona star to shine with a little less of the spotlight on him — and a touch more on his club team-mate Neymar.
Messi has a magician’s left foot, dribbles like a puppy, has the acceleration of a sprinter and pinpoint accuracy with his shooting.
Edin Dzeko – Bosnia
Born: 17/3/1986 – Caps 62
His career hasn’t always gone as he’d have wished it to since joining Manchester City in 2011 but Edin Dzeko will have a chance to shine on the world stage.
Unlike at his club side where he has often warmed the bench, Dzeko is the undisputed first choice forward for Bosnia.
His international goal record is better than one in every two games while his record at Wolfsburg, where he won the Bundesliga, was almost 0.6 goals per game.
A tall, powerful forward who is dominant in the air while maintaining surprisingly good feet, Dzeko is without a doubt Bosnia’s most dangerous goal-threat.
Miralem Pjanic – Bosnia
Born: 2/4/1990 – Caps 48
Still only 24, Miralem Pjanic is coming into the prime of his footballing career and already he has turned himself into a crucial element in Bosnia’s success.
A versatile attacking midfielder he is known for his dribbling, vision, passing and creativity.
He was a highly sought-after prospect when leaving his formative club Metz in 2008 following their relegation from the French top flight.
He ended up at Roma via Lyon and his star has soared since arriving in the Italian capital.
Having grown up mostly in Luxembourg, where he played youth football, he could have played for them but Pjanic was always adamant he would represent the country of his parents.
Victor Moses – Nigeria
Born: 12/12/1990 – Caps 17
Quick, strong and willing to take on players, Victor Moses can play either on the wing or up front.
Although born in Nigeria, he went to England as an 11-year-old asylum seeker after his parents had been killed in rioting in his homeland.
Moses quickly made a name for himself in junior football in south London and went on to represent his adopted homeland at youth levels.
But Moses, whose career has stalled since a move to Chelsea two years ago, was impatient to catch the eye of England’s senior selectors and in 2011 opted to represent his homeland, although for various reasons he would not turn out for the Super Eagles until a year later.
Ashkan Dejagah – Iran
Born: 5/7/1986 – Caps 13
Yet another player with dual nationality who could have played for another country, Ashkan Dejagah picked Iran over Germany.
Dejagah was born to Iranian parents in Tehran but moved to Germany when only a year old due to the fall-out from the deposition of the Shah and the Islamic Revolution.
He played for Germany’s youth teams right up to the under-21s but failed to make the step up to the full national side.
So when Iran came calling in 2012, when he was already 25, Dejagah took advantage of the old FIFA rules that allowed him to switch nationalities despite having played for Germany’s under-21s beyond his 21st birthday.
The move has worked well for him as he quickly became an integral cog in Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz’s team.