The day’s top performers in the hunt for the Hyundai Young Player Award here at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ both come from France. Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane impressed in Les Bleus’ 3-0 demolition of ten-man Honduras.
Real Madrid prodigy Varane put in a flawless performance in the centre of defence. He kept the bustling Hondurans at bay with his positional sense and denied all but the most cursory opportunities to the Central Americans. Pogba of Juventus, for his part, put in the kind of energetic performance that has made him the toast of the football world. His hard work in midfield, and his understanding with partner Blaise Matuidi, was crucial against the spirited Honduras, and he drew the penalty that led to France’s first goal.
Andy Najar, Honduras’s top young gun, was unable to make much of an impact on the contest, though he did show flashes of invention in his wide berth.
Holding midfielder Carlos Gruezo, though only 19, has earned the trust and respect of Ecuadorian coach Reinaldo Rueda The strong and sturdy teenager put in a creditable performance against the Swiss, but unfortunately, most fans will remember how he was beaten to the ball by Admir Mehmedi, who headed home an equaliser for the Alpine side on their way to a 2-1 win.
Sead Kolasinac started for first-timers Bosnia Herzegovina in their 2-1 defeat by Argentina, but the Schalke defender will want to forget his World Cup debut. Just seconds had ticked off the clock when he put through his own goal.
Germany open their Brazil 2014 account tomorrow in Salvador and two of their young stars, Julian Draxler and Matthias Ginter, will try to keep the Hyundai Young player award in their home country (the two previous winners of the honour were Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller). Portugal’s Rafa Ferreira Silva of Sporting Braga will simply be hoping to get himself on the pitch against the Germans.
When Iran take on Nigeria in Curitiba, both Alireza Jahan Bakhsh – the youngest Iranian player – and Super Eagle Kenneth Omeruo will want to make their mark. And in the final game of the day, USA’s trio of youngsters will be looking to impress in Jurgen Klinsmann’s experimental squad. Up against a wild card like Ghana, perhaps DeAndre Yedlin, John Anthony Brooks and the untested Bayern Munich prodigy Julian Green will be needed.