The World Cup's Great Playmakers

With plenty of attacking talent on show in Brazil, Whoscored.com pick out one playmaker from each of the groups that should be expected to shine...

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When listing the stars of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the mind automatically wanders to the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and home favourite Neymar. If such names are to be among the goals as expected though, they'll need the playmakers of their respective nations to be on song.

WhoScored.com pick out one of the top creators to look out for in each group of this summer's showcase:

Group A - Oscar (Brazil)
The Chelsea man may not have had the most phenomenal season at the Bridge, particularly towards the end of the campaign, but there was a feeling that he had one eye on the World Cup.

The 22-year-old picked up a modest WhoScored.com rating of 7.01 in the Premier League last season but plays a pivotal role at international level, bringing out the best in the likes of Neymar, Hulk and Fred up front with his intelligent movement. His game is perhaps suited better to European or continental football, having picked up twice as many assists in ten Champions League appearances (4) as he managed in 33 games in England's top flight.


Group B - Andrés Iniesta (Spain)

In a squad packed with playmakers, Andrés Iniesta is arguably the most important to Spain's chances of retaining their crown. The Barca man tends to come good when it matters most for La Roja, most notably settling the last World Cup final in extra time and winning the Player of the Tournament at Euro 2012.

The 30-year old's tally of seven league assists was modest by his standards - he managed 16 in the campaign previous to last - but his WhoScored.com characteristics are those of the perfect creator, with strengths of passing, key passes, through balls and dribbling in his armoury.


Group C - James Rodríguez (Colombia)

If Colombia were banking on their favourite son Falcao before injury forced El Tigre out of the tournament, they are perhaps now looking to the man they simply call James. The two are teammates at Monaco but the latter adapted better to Ligue 1 after the pair moved to France last summer.

The young attacking midfielder registered a league-high 12 assists in his first season for the big spenders, with a rating of 7.41 from WhoScored.com bettered by just six players in the French top tier. He may play in a wider role for his country this summer but will be expected to drift inside and create for an impressive array of strikers.


Group D - Marco Verratti (Italy)

All eyes may well be drawn to the feet (and beard) of Andrea Pirlo this summer, which could well serve as a smokescreen of sorts for the player tipped to fill the veteran's boots for the Azzurri. Marco Verratti, at the age of just 21, is an exceptional passer of the ball and could be given more licence to roam under Cesare Prandelli than he is offered at PSG.

The youngster maintained a 91.4% pass accuracy in the league last season, unsurprisingly garnering a strength from WhoScored.com of passing - along with key passes and through balls - in the process.


Group E - Mathieu Valbuena (France)

Marseille string-puller Valbuena is France's pocket-sized playmaker and perhaps les Bleus' secret weapon. With Ribéry now out of action, the midfielder - likely to be playing from the right - will carry even more of the creative burden for Didier Deschamps' side.

Valbuena has been vital in the attacking third for the national team and despite seeing his WhoScored.com rating drop last season - still at a respectable 7.04 - the 29-year old created more chances than any other Ligue 1 player (90).


Group F - Ángel Di María (Argentina)

Perhaps the unsung hero at both club and international level, Ángel Di María has to play in the shadows of both Ronaldo and Messi respectively. The wing wizard plays a different role for Argentina, forced inside into a deeper role, but he is still the most creative player at their disposal.

Di María picked up at least four more assists (17) than any other player in Europe's top 5 leagues last season, and reached double figures in that regard for the third time in four seasons at the Bernabeu. The fact that he is deemed 'very strong' when it comes to key passes according to WhoScored.com's characteristics is no surprise.


Group G - João Moutinho (Portugal)

With Germany now looking likely to line-up in a 4-3-3 formation without a traditional number 10, we've chosen another player likely to play second fiddle to their nation's superstar instead. João Moutinho will be crucial to a Portugal side that laboured through qualification.

Another member of an impressive Monaco outfit, the midfielder joins Pepe and Ronaldo as the real starts at Paulo Bento's disposal. Only three players averaged more passes per game in Ligue 1 last season (66.5) and the Portuguese registered eight assists, earning a rating of 7.26 from WhoScored.com.


Group H - Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)

He may not have been Jose Mourinho's cup of tea but youngster Kevin De Bruyne made an instant impact at Wolfsburg on his return to the Bundesliga. The 22-year old averaged 3.2 key passes per game in his 16 appearances after a January move, with no other player in Germany's top tier able to match that figure.

De Bruyne will likely play the creative role, in behind Lukaku, in Belgium's midfield and with strengths from WhoScored.com of passing, key passes and crossing the Chelsea striker should have plenty of chances in a favourable group this summer. The fact that the two were unable to pair up at Stamford Bridge may yet be a decision rued by Blues fans.

Martin Laurence. Follow him on Twitter.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

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