Here they are ladies (and gentlemen), the players to watch in the 2014 World Cup (sorry I'm a bit late). Though some of the perennial powers are out (Italy, Spain, England), there is still a lot of soccer/football to watch, and the men of this list make it worth your while.
Robin van Persie, The Netherlands
The Dutch captain and Manchester United striker is one of the best in the world. In the first three games of the tournament, van Persie scored twice (playing just two games – he was out of the third with two yellow cards) including what will undoubtedly be on the list of best goals of the tournament.
Relationship status: Married with two children. Since he was 20—yes, 20.
Gerard Piqué, Spain
It was difficult to pick the best photo of the Spain and Barcelona defender. He is a World Cup champion (2010), a UEFA Euro champion (2012), and a three-time UEFA Champions League champion (2007-2008 with Manchester United; 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 with Barca). Individually, he has been named La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year (2009), La Liga Best Defender (2010), FIFA/FIFPro World XI (2010, 2011, 2012), UEFA Team of the Year (2010, 2011, 2012), ESM Team of the Year (2011), and UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament (2012). He may be the single reason I'm sad Spain is out of the World Cup.
Relationship Status: You may have heard of his girlfriend, Shakira (who is ten years his senior). They met when Piqué was featured in the music video for Shakira's song "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They have a son.
Glen Johnson, England
I mean... really. There aren't many men in England who look like this. The Liverpool defender has 54 caps for England and one goal since 2003. He is one of three children of a single mother, who at times was homeless. But he credits his mother's strength and resolve for helping him develop a football career.
Relationship status: Married with two children.
Graham Zusi, USA
This handsome devil plays midfield for the good-ol' US-of-A and is a two-time Sporting Kansas City MVP. He played college soccer at the University of Maryland, where he won the National Championship in 2005 and 2008, scoring the game-winning goal in the 2008 National Semi-Final and Championship Games. This was to be Zusi's breakout year... thus far the World Cup hasn't gone, for him, as he would have liked. Let's hope he can turn things around.
Relationship status: Appears to be single. Goooooooooooooooooooooooool!
Andrea Barzagli, Italy
The Italian and Juventus midfielderis known for his powerful physical build, and for being "strong in terms of anticipation, concentration and positional sense."* His calm composure, pace, consistency and ball playing ability have recently enabled him to be regarded as one of the best and most complete defenders in the world.
* Horncastle, James. "Serie A Team of the Year". espnfc.com. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
Relationship status: Married with two children
Granit Xhaka, Switzerland
The 21-year-old Swiss midfielder plays professionally in Germany for Borussia Mönchengladbach. His family is Albanian, but moved to Basel from Kosovo shortly before he was born. His older Taulant, is also a professional soccer player who plays professionally for Basel and internationally for Albania. Granit scored in Switzerland's 5-2 loss to France, but the team advanced to the Round of 16 with a 2-1 record.
Bonus: his teammates call him "young Einstein" because of his intelligence and love of science. He is of Albanian decent.
Relationship status: Single. He is 21, after all.
Olivier Giroud, France
Ummm... yeah. The France and Arsenal striker and is known for his size, physical style of play, heading ability, shot power, strength and link-up play. He has 32 caps and 9 goals for France since 2011.
Relationship status: Married since 2011 with a child. But admitted in early 2014 to cheating with model Celia Kay. He previously denied to transgression, but the "model" then posted photos of Giroud in his hotel room. After the incident, his wife went back to France. Since then, no news of a divorce has been reported.
Joe Hart, England
The 27-year-old English goalkeeper has won two Premier League titles with Manchester City (2011-12, 2013-14). Individually he's been named the Premier League's top goalie three times and to the Premier League Team of the Year twice.
Relationship status: Engaged with a baby on the way.
Nacer Chadli, Belgium
The 24-year-old Belgian winger plays professionally for the team with the best name in sports, Tottenham Hotspur(no s). Chandli holds duel citizenship in Belgium and Morocco, and made his debut for Morocco Nov. 17, 2010, in a friendly against Northern Ireland where he was named man of the match. On January 28, 2011, he announced his intention to represent Belgium at international level, which was permitted as he had not played in a competitive match for Morocco, and made his debut for the national squad for a 9 February friendly match against Finland. A good decision, since I don't see Morocco in the World Cup. In his professional and international career, Chandli has 74 goals in 250 games - not too shabby.
Relationship status: Single!
Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Russia
Let's start with this: he is the most prolific scorer in the history of Russian soccer. In 2014, he scored his 26th international goal for Russia, breaking the previous record. Amid a messy divorce (and cheating allegations), Kerzhakov said of his daughter, "Thanks to her I learned about responsibility: that`s what happens when you understand that there is a person who is half created from you. She`s yours.” All together now: "Awwwwwww!"
Relationship status: Divorced with a daughter.
Sergio Ramos, Spain
The Spanish captain was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal World Cup for the defending champs. The 28-year old has competed for Spain in three World Cups, winning in 2010, and two European Championships, winning in 2008 and 2012. He made his first senior international appearance at the age of 18, and in 2013 became the youngest player to ever reach 100 caps. Professionally, he plays for Real Madrid, with whom he won this season's UEFA Champions League.
Relationship: In a long-term relationship with a Spanish reporter/tv presenter (I use the term "reporter" very liberally here - most reporters don't model in men's magazines). The couple have a son.
Diego “Ruso” Pérez, Uruguay
The 34-year-old defender is known as "The Russian" though he has no Russian lineage. Confusing. Anyway, He is part of the rough and tough Uruguayan midfield and after the 2010 World Cup where he made quite a name for himself, he began playing for Serie A Bologna. In 2014, Uruguay lost their first match to Croatia but went on to defeat England and Italy, leading to both team's exit and Uruguay's surprising advancement to the Round of 16. Unfortunately, Perez hasn't seen any action yet. Perhaps they'll use his maturity in the next round(s)
Relationship status: Married with two children.
Mitch Langerak, Australia
The Aussie goalkeeper plays for the German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. Stats: 25 years old, 6'3", Australian accent, enjoys "hanging out."
Relationship status: Girlfriend.
Ehsan Hajsafi, Iran
The 24-year-old Iranian midfielder as selected by Goal.com as the most promising player in Asian football in 2009. Hajsafi has represented Iran at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. IN his professional career, he has 33 goals in 215 games.
Relationship status: ?????
Sorry Cristiano Ronaldo fans, while I can see that he is classically handsome... I just can’t put a man on this list who tweezes his eyebrows more often than me.