The heart of Paris-Saint Germain’s defense, Silva’s quality at the back is the perfect foil for the attacking philosophy. Regarded as one of the best in his position the PSG captain has the pace, presence and technical ability to lead from the back. Named in the 2013 Confederation’s Cup Dream Team, Silva has already led the South American’s to glory on home soil, and despite his age, has the experience to cope with the pressures of an expectant nation this time around.
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Dario Srna, Croatia
Shakhtar Donetsk’s captain and free-kick specialist – think Croatia’s David Beckham for the similarities in playing styles. A highly experienced operator for club and country, Srna captained the side through the European Championships in 2012 and has amassed 111 caps, his experience at the top level will be crucial in pulling Croatia through the group stages.
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Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon
No one personifies experience in international soccer’s most prestigious competition like Samuel Eto’o. Appearing as the youngest player in the 1998 World Cup, Eto’o has been ever-present in Cameroon’s forward line that has claimed the African Cup of Nations twice and an Olympic gold medal in his time with the Lions, with the former Barcelona man boasting 55 goals in his 112 appearances.
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Rafael Marquez, Mexico
The former Barcelona and New York Red Bulls defender has seen it all with Mexico and knows exactly how to keep a team together during the World Cup. With 118 national caps to his name he became the eighth man to reach a century of appearances for Mexico and despite entering the tournament at the ripe old age of 35, will be a calming figure at the back.
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Iker Casillas, Spain
A man who boasts a record for all to envy at international level, with two European Championships and one World Cup win. The Real Madrid keeper has had the luxury of playing with one of the greatest teams in the history of soccer, however Casillas’ organization and leadership has been integral to Spain’s domination in recent years. Added to his fantastic skills between the sticks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him getting his gloves back on the World Cup trophy.
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Robin van Persie, Holland
RvP’s scoring record at international level is one to be proud of - he averages more than a goal every two games and finished the World Cup qualification period as top scorer in the UEFA section. An outside shout for the golden boot? That all depends on how far he can lead his team. Van Persie should relish playing for Louis van Gaal after reported bust-ups with ex-Manchester United boss David Moyes.
AFP/Getty ImagesDAMIEN MEYER
Claudio Bravo, Chile
It’s not always popular when a goalkeeper is made captain, but Bravo is one of the most senior players in the Chile squad. He burst onto the scene as a youngster for Colo-Colo in his native Chile, before spending most of his career in Spain at Real Sociedad. He is reportedly on the verge of a move to Barcelona following the expected departures of Victor Valdes and Jose Manuel Pinto.
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Mile Jedinak, Australia
Jedinak got the nod to lead the Aussies after long-serving captain Lucas Neill wasn’t included in the World Cup squad for Brazil. The Crystal Palace midfielder has been a mainstay for his club side this season and has earned some rave reviews with some impressive performances. Australia manager Ange Postecoglou thinks Jedinak will make a great leader, he said: Mile Jedinak embodies everything that is great about Australian football and Australia as a nation.”
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Mario Yepes, Colombia
At 38 years of age, Yepes, is one of the last original members of the Colombian so-called ‘golden generation’. Having played for an array of clubs - including Paris St-Germain and AC Milan in Europe – he is an experienced campaigner, but amazingly this will be his first World Cup tournament.
AFP/Getty ImagesOMAR TORRES
Giorgios Karagounis, Greece
Karagounis is the most capped player in the history of the Greek national team and rightly holds the captain’s armband. As a key player in the unlikely Euro 2004 success, Karagounis sets an example for the rest of the team with his never-say-die attitude in the middle of the park. If Greece is to go anywhere in this tournament then he’ll have to be on top of his game.
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Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast
Drogba needs no introduction on the club scene, but he’s never pulled up any trees internationally. He may not be a great example at times - most notably for a post-match Champions League rant at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo – but he certainly knows where the net is. He has the power and skill to influence his side’s fortunes on the pitch. Not a natural captain.
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Makoto Hasebe, Japan
Hasebe is one of the lesser known names on the list. He has forged a successful career in the Bundesliga for Wolfsburg and, now at Nurnberg as a midfield general. His wealth of experience at international level and in Europe will be key for Japan’s chances of progression past the group stage.
Diego Lugano, Uruguay
The Uruguay commander is the perfect man to lead his troops into battle after captaining his side to the semifinal stage in 2010. Lugano is one of four Uruguayans currently plying their trade in the English Premier League. Injuries and poor form have kept the defender out of the West Brom team this season, but 92 caps say he is sure to be a voice of reason in the dressing room.
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Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica
Ruiz spent the second half of the season on loan at Dutch giants PSV from Premier League side Fulham. He got himself into the perfect form for the World Cup, scoring five goals in 14 appearances. Primarily a right-sided attacking midfielder, who can play as a second striker, Ruiz is sure to be leading from the front this summer.
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Steven Gerrard, England
Where did time go? At the age of 34, Gerrard, will lead England into a World Cup for the first time as captain. The Liverpool skipper is a natural leader and has experience of some of the biggest games in European and world soccer. The man from Merseyside will see this as his last opportunity for international success following a disappointing end to the domestic club season.
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Gianluigi Buffon, Italy
Mister Juventus has amassed an incredible 139 caps for the Azzurri over 17 years. Standing at 6ft 3in and with a booming voice, Buffon protects his goal like his life depends on it. He was part of the fantastic defense that lifted the World Cup in 2006. No doubt he will have to shine if they are to replicate the success of eight years ago.
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Gokhan Inler, Switzerland
The 29-year-old central midfielder helped Switzerland finish top of their World Cup qualifying group with room to spare. His energetic displays also secured Champions League football for Napoli for a second successive season and Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld will be relying on his creativity to progress from a group that looks wide open.
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Antonio Valencia, Ecuador
Valencia will be well known to Premier League fans as a tricky winger for Manchester United and a decent crosser of the ball. A naturally quiet man, Valencia is the face of sport in his native country and much is expected of him to fire Ecuador into the knockout stage as he did when he played in every game in the 2006 finals. Has not scored a competitive goal for five years.
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Hugo Lloris, France
The Tottenham goalkeeper has been captain since leading his side to a 2-1 win against England at Wembley in November 2010 and few could argue with his credentials. Lloris took over the role from Patrice Evra following the shambolic campaign in South Africa in which many of the France squad went on strike in defiance of then coach Raymond Domenech. Vocal and well respected by his teammates.
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Noel Valladares, Honduras
His quiet and shy reputation has earned him the nickname ‘The Secret’ from his international teammates. At 37, this will probably be his last World Cup finals and he will be hoping to improve on his side’s 2010 performance in South Africa in which Honduras bowed out at the group stage having picked up just one point without scoring a goal.
AFP/Getty ImagesNICHOLAS KAMM
Lionel Messi, Argentina
The three-time Ballon d’Or winner is undoubtedly one of the greatest players the world has ever seen but he has not endeared himself to the Argentine public as much as, say, Diego Maradona when he was in his pomp which is usually explained by his move to Spain at such an early age. Not as prolific a goalscorer with his national side as he is with Barcelona, but still hit the net 10 times in qualifying, just one behind Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.
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Emir Spahic, Bosnia-Heregovina
The Bayer Leverkusen center-back led Bosnia-Herzegovina to their first World Cup finals thanks to a nervy 1-0 win in Lithuania which ensured his country finished above Greece on goal difference. Spahic, a first cousin of star striker Edin Dzeko, is a no-nonsense defender and has experience of European leagues having spent spent three spells in Russia, along with time in Spain, France and now Germany.
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Javad Nekounam, Iran
Long-serving captain Nekounam is a dynamic figure at the heart of Iran’s team. He has an impressive goalscoring record for a midfielder – 37 goals in 139 international matches – and tends to pop up with important goals. At the age of 33 this could well be his last chance to impress at soccer’s biggest spectacle.
AFP/Getty ImagesSAMUEL KUBANI
Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria
“Ghana almost reached the semi-finals four years ago. We are going to achieve a better result and be the first African team to get to the semi-finals of the World Cup,” Enyeama told FIFA.com. The Nigerian goalkeeper has faith in his teammates and a strong will to win. The 31-year-old Lille stopper went a staggering 11 matches before conceding a goal in the first half of the Ligue 1 season. A similar record would go a long way to keeping Nigeria in the competition.
AFP/Getty ImagesPHILIPPE HUGUEN
Philipp Lahm, Germany
This will be Lahm’s sixth major championship with Germany, having made his debut just four months before the Euro 2004 tournament. He is yet to taste glory with the national team and what better way to do it than as captain. Lahm will probably revert back to his favored full-back role at the World Cup, after playing most of the season in a midfield position for Bayern. Die Mannschaft are one of the teams tipped to do well this summer and Lahm is sure to be instrumental.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
This man needs no introduction. Cristiano Ronaldo has quite simply been the best player in world soccer this year. He scored 51 goals in 47 games for Real Madrid this season and a superb captain’s performance dragged Portugal through the playoffs and into the World Cup. Although most of Portugal’s team looks solid, Ronaldo, will need to be at his inspirational best in Brazil.
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Asamoah Gyan, Ghana
Gyan scored one of Ghana’s goals that dumped USA out of the World Cup in 2010 and will be hoping to inflict similar pain on the Americans this time round. His soccer career has spanned over three continents and his vast knowledge of the worldwide game could be essential for the Black Stars.
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Clint Dempsey, USA
With the omission of Landon Donovan from the squad, Clint Dempsey’s role at the World Cup will become even more vital. His record in front of goal is good – scoring 36 goals for the Stars and Stripes and amassing over 100 caps. Dempsey is a straight-talking and down-to-earth character off the field - perfect for winning over a dressing room and galvanizing the team.
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Vincent Kompany, Belgium
As on-pitch chief at both club and international level, Kompany is a born leader. Since moving from Bundesliga side Hamburg to Manchester City in 2008, the Belgian hasn’t looked back. In his time at the Etihad he has captained City to two Premier League titles and two domestic cups. The perfect example of professionalism both on and off the pitch.
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Madjid Bougherra, Algeria
Bougherra is a less recognizable name than many of the other captains on this list; however the Algerian is certainly a competent defender. Cast your mind back to the last World Cup in 2010 when underdogs Algeria held off England to snatch a famous draw. Bougherra kept Wayne Rooney in his back pocket for the majority of the affair. He’ll need to be at his best if Algeria are to progress past the group stage.
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Sergei Ignashevich, Russia
Ignashevich is part of a strong spine in the Russian squad, alongside experienced regulars Igor Akinfeev and Roman Shirokov. At 34, this will most likely be Ignashevich’s last World Cup and one he will be trying to savor. Having spent his whole career in Russia, Ignashevich has only experienced success on a global scale once before – the 2005 UEFA Cup. Now he has a chance to bow out on top.
AFP/Getty ImagesODD ANDERSEN
Koo Ja-cheol, South Korea
When announcing Ja-cheol as captain, South Korean boss Hong Myung-bo said: "Koo has a strong sense of responsibility. He has also served as a bridge between the players and coaching staff". These are impressive words about a 25 year old with only 36 caps to his name. Can theTaegeuk Warriors better their fourth place finish from 2002?