With any international competition the tendency is to pick out the best of the best and put them on a special team. This team has nothing to do with talent. Though many of these players are brilliant footballers, this one's all about the best names. Of course, I had to leave out plenty of stars, but the list has to end somewhere. Here we go in no particular order.
Xerdan Shaquiri (Midfielder, Switzerland) - An X and a Q! If only proper names were allowed in Scrabble this guy would win you about a Brazilian points.
Mario Balotteli (Forward, Italy) - Most Italian name possible. Least Italian looking guy possible. Great story. Born to Ghanain immigrants, but raised by Italian foster parents. Turns out the American dream isn't so unique.
Karim Benzima (Forward, France) - Zinedine Zidane had big boots to fill. No one really comes close, but 'Karim Benzima' is fun to say.
Granit Xhaka (Midfielder, Switzerland) - Sounds like 'Granite Shaka' can we make a statue of that Mt. Rushmore-size?
Hulk, Fred (Forwards, Brazil)- I love the Brazilian 'nicknames on shirts' tradition and these are this year's best. Also I love the fact that James Rodriguez of Colombia has 'James' on his kit. And that it's pronounced 'ha-mez' in the Spanish fashion even though he was named after James Bond. Love. It.
Sokratis Papastathopolous (Defender, Greece) - The announcers were calling him 'Sokratis' because if they went by his last name the game would be over by the time they were done. (That happened with many other Greeks, too.) Problem is, with that spelling, you can't make the Bill and Ted joke of calling him 'so-crates', which is a bummer.
Yaya Toure and Konan Ya (Midfielders, Cote d'Ivoire) - I hope someone in Cote d'Ivoire is named Yaya Ya. He would be captain of the name team for life.
Eden Hazard (Midfield, Belgium) - His first name is a place you want to go and his last name is something you want to avoid. His middle name should be 'Purgatory'.
Romelu Lukaku (Forward, Belgium) - Sounds like a mythical Roman got down with a Lion King character
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Midfielder, Germany) - I don't know what it means, but I'm pretty sure 'schwein' is 'pig'. I'm sure it has something to do with beer. Also, that kid from The Neverending Story was a 'Bastian'. Maybe that thing he rode off on at the end was a 'schweinsteiger.'
JP Dellacamera (Play-by-Play, ESPN Radio) - Tommy Smyth is his color man and is brilliant, but JP has the better name by far.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Forward, Sweden) - OK Sweden didn't qualify this year, but come on, bro, seriously. This guy is the captain of any team that has anything to do with names. And he's a fantastic player. Does it even get any better than Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Leave your comments below.