Player – Maximiliano Meza
Position: Central Midfield
Caps: 2 Goals: 0
Maximiliano Meza plays in his country of birth for Independiente in the Argentine Primera Division, having previously played for Gimnasia. In 2017, Meza won the Copa Sudamericana, scoring in the first leg of the finals vs Flamengo. Several months later, Meza made his Argentina debut in 2018, playing the full 90 minutes in the 6-1 defeat to Spain. While not a great game to make his international debut, Maxi impressed with his performance on the night.
Chance of game time: While not previously seen as a starter, the injury to Manuel Lanzini could push Meza into a starting berth alongside Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria.
Why we’re following them: With good performances, Meza could impress and make the move from his home country to a European club. There is already reported interest from Borussia Dortmund.
This video highlights his good performance in the friendly defeat against Spain. It shows his ability to hold onto the ball under pressure, dribbling skills and a good cross which Gonzalo Higuain should put away.
Player – Ante Rebic
Position: Left Winger/Striker
Caps: 15 Goals: 1
A very direct and uncompromising winger, Rebic scored 10 goals for Eintracht Frankfurt on loan from Fiorentina including two goals in the 2018 DFB Pokal Final as Frankfurt beat Bayern Munich 3-1. His time with former national team manager, Nico Kovac, at Frankfurt has been a marked improvement from less successful loan spells with RB Leipzig and Hellas Verona. Unlike many of the players in these articles, Rebic has previous World Cup experience having appeared in all 3 group stage matches in 2014 which included being sent off late on against Mexico.
Chance of game time: With the ability to play on the wing and up front, Rebic is a useful option from the bench to replace either Ivan Perisic or Andrej Kramaric.
Why we’re following them: As one of the younger players in an ageing Croatia squad, Rebic could form part of the future of his country’s national team, having been named as the 2013 Croatian Hope of the Year. Frankfurt have an option to purchase Rebic during the summer. Alternatively, Rebic could follow his manager Kovac and move to a club higher up in the Bundesliga.
This video showcases Rebic’s fiery nature but also shows his ability to finish when coming inside from the Left-Wing.
Player – Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson
Caps: 10 Goals: 1
The well-travelled Centre-Back is the son of Iceland U21 manager, Eyjólfur Gjafar Sverrisson and holds the record for the most U21 caps. Holmar has had spells in Iceland, England, Belgium, Germany, Norway and Israel before going out on loan to Levski Sofia in Bulgaria helping them to Europa League qualification this season. Eyjólfsson made his Iceland debut in 2012 and was unfortunate to miss out on the Euro 2016 squad.
Chance of game time: Eyjólfsson could start at Right-Back ahead of the ageing Birkir Már Saevarsson, which he did in the friendly against Ghana or make appearances from the bench.
Why we’re following them: Holmar is an interesting player due to his journeyman-esque career and could be a player to take up a more important role for the national team in the future.
Player – William Troost-Ekong
Caps: 21 Goals: 1
The Bursaspor Centre-Back has had a varied career where after leaving the youth systems of Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, Troost-Ekong joined FC Groningen, Gent and then in Turkey with Bursaspor in 2017. This season, William made 31 appearances and scored 2 goals. He plays alongside his Nigeria squad teammate Shehu Abdullahi. He holds caps at Netherlands U19 and U20 before playing for the Nigerian 2016 Olympic Football team where Nigeria gained the bronze medal. Troost-Ekong also played every minute of Nigeria’s World Cup 2018 qualification.
Chance of game time: Should start at Centre-Back in either a back 4 or back 3 alongside new Brighton signing, Leon Balogun.
Why we’re following them: As part of a strong defence that came through a tough qualifying group, Troost-Ekong could make an impression on watching scouts. With previous experience of English football, he could make an ideal signing for the Premier League or Championship.
In a game where he captained the side, this video shows Troost-Ekong’s ability to play the ball from the back and his ability to defend against a strong forward in Robert Lewandowski. Troost-Ekong will be up against strong, physical forwards in the group stage in Gonzalo Higuain, Mario Mandzukic and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
Compilations via Youtube
The Scout’s Guide to the World Cup-
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