The stars who could rock the World Cup: 40-31

The Rio Report

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With just over a week to go until the start of the World Cup, we consulted our offices across Europe in order to compile a list of the 50 players to watch at Brazil 2014.

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The list exhibits both talent fulfilled and potential untapped and includes at least one player from every nation.

On Monday we looked at numbers 50-41, and here are the next batch of 10 stars to watch.

40. Kwadwo Asamoah (Ghana)

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The creative Juventus midfielder was named Africa's most promising player in 2010, and made good on his early promise by twice being named Ghana's Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013. Bloomberg rated Asamoah as the 27th best footballer of the year suggesting he could make a real impact at this year's tournament. Strong with plenty of pace, Asamoah will hope to help Ghana emulate their run to the last eight of the 2010 finals.

39. Clint Dempsey (United States)

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Juergen Klinsmann's sensational decision to exclude Landon Donovan from USA's squad leaves Dempsey as the highest scorer in their squad with 37 goals. Indeed, only three midfielders or forwards named in the USA squad have reached double figures in their international career, making Dempsey's performances all the more vital. If the Seattle Sounders forward, and national team captain, fails to fire then USA's stay in Brazil could be a short one, particularly with Germany, Portugal and Ghana awaiting in Group G.

38. Edin Dzeko (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Jose Mourinho said the Manchester City striker deserved to be the Player of the Year in England, and while that may have been a slight exaggeration, it was the goals of the Bosnia and Herzegovina striker which really helped take Manchester City over the line. There can be few better third-choice strikers in world football, but for his country he is an undisputed first choice, leading the line with authority and always carrying a threat. A record of 35 goals in 61 caps is admirable indeed and Dzeko should relish the chance to perform on such a big stage.

37. Fred (Brazil)

Fred, as his name suggests, isn't the most spectacular or classically Brazilian of players, but he makes an appearance on our list due to his vital importance for the World Cup favourites. The country which has produced Romario, Ronaldo and Pele is without a truly top-class centre-forward but the 30-year-old is the best option they have. He has 16 goals in 31 appearances and is a big favourite of Luiz Felipe Scolari having been a reliable performer during his second spell in charge. Brazil will likely create all manner of chances and if Fred can put his fair share away then there is every chance he could have a fantastic World Cup.

36. Angel Di Maria (Argentina)

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Argentina's plethora of outstanding forwards are the chief reason they are being tipped as possible World Cup winners but it is Di Maria who will make things tick behind them. Asked to perform in a more central role by Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid this season, Di Maria has had a fantastic campaign, utilising his expert use of the ball and direct, dangerous dribbling to great effect. If he has space to run into, or an opportunity to cross, it is Di Maria who will supply the bullets for the most talented attack in Brazil.

35. Javier Hernandez (Mexico)

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Few players can have more to prove at the World Cup than Hernandez, whose six Premier League starts and only four goals this season hardly made a compelling case for his inclusion. Still, Chicharito is a vital player for his country, who have the onerous task of facing Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon in Group A. Whether it's making a big impression on new manager Louis van Gaal, or putting himself in the shop window for a move away from Manchester United, this tournament will be vital in shaping his club destiny.

34. Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)

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Another Manchester United star, Valencia is Ecuador's outstanding player and will supply width on the right of midfield. A squad which tragically lost striker Chucho Benitez to a cardiac arrest in July looks upon Valencia as their inspiration and he has World Cup pedigree too having been named on the shortlist for the Best Young Player award in the 2006 finals in Germany. Though his form has dipped at United over the past couple of seasons, and he suffered under David Moyes along with his team-mates, Valencia has the talent to shine in Brazil.

33. Joao Moutinho (Portugal)

We've obviously including one of Moutinho's team-mates rather higher up this list (can you guess who?) but it is important not to obscure the supreme work done by the Monaco midfielder for the Portugal national team. His patient and precise passing helps set the tempo for Paulo Bento's side and his ability to pick the right ball in the final third allows Portugal to carve open defences with regularity. That other someone wouldn't have as many international goals as he does without the supporting role played by Moutinho.

32. Miroslav Klose (Germany)

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The original Ronaldo is feted as one of the all-time greats of the game; an icon, a marketing sensation and a hero from Brazil to Barcelona, via Milan and Madrid; a player whom countless others have modelled their game on. Miroslav Klose is not. But still, the veteran Germany striker is just one goal short of equalling Ronaldo's record of 15 World Cup goals and could match it in the group stage, where Germany face Portugal, Ghana and United States. Oh, and his next goal will also see him surpass Gerd Mueller's record of 68 for Germany. Not bad at all.

31. Ross Barkley (England)

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It could just be that a sensational strike against Manchester City at the end of the season could have clinched a place for this outrageously gifted midfielder, who has flourished under Roberto Martinez's tutelage. Comparisons to Paul Gascoigne have been expected and persistent, with Barkley possessing a fearsome shot, a good engine and an ability to drive through the heart of teams thanks to his impeccable technique. If England's older players flag, Barkley will be looking to make a similar impression to Gazza's in 1990.

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