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May 5, 2014

Five Aside: Standout performances from last week

The 2014 FIFA World Cup gets underway in less than 40 days and league seasons are winding down. Here are five players you can expect to see in Brazil who had standout performances for their respective clubs last week.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): Ronaldo added to his increasing list of records. He scored three goals in his last two games, including two against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Those two goals against Bayern brought his UCL season total to 16 goals, a new single-season tournament record.

The Portuguese captain had a stellar qualifying campaign, finishing tied for third in scoring among European players with eight goals. He will look to replicate that form on the World Cup, where he has only scored twice in 10 games.

Mario Gotze (Germany): Bayern Munich's Gotze had been struggling for goals, going scoreless in his previous nine matches. However, he scored two goals and provided an assist against Hamburg over the weekend.

The German midfielder played in seven qualifiers, providing 16 chances. He also took on defenders one-on-one 27 times, second most on Germany.

Sergio Ramos (Spain): The Real Madrid defender had his scoring boots on last week. In two games, he scored three goals, including two headers against Bayern Munich in Champions League, more than doubling his season total across all competitions (previously two).

Ramos was one of three Spaniards to play in all eight of their qualifiers. He finished with a European-qualifying best.

Samir Nasri (France): Nasri has had a revitalized season under new manager Manuel Pelligrini. He is currently tied with teammate David Silva for third in the EPL in chances created (82). He was vital in Manchester City’s win at Everton, providing an assist and creating a game-high eight chances.

He is hoping to secure a place in the French squad heading to Brazil after having only played four qualifying matches for Les Blues. He had the second best chances created per 90 minutes rate (4.4) for his country, behind Mathueu Valbuena’s 4.5.

Enner Valencia (Ecuador): The Ecuadorian led Mexico’s Liga MX in the 2014 Clausura in scoring with 12 goals. His hat-trick for Pachuca sent them through to the semi-finals of the Clausura playoffs.

Valencia was originally used as a winger in his first few appearances for Ecuador. Unfortunately, due to the passing of teammate Christian Benitez, he is a candidate to be used in more of a central striker role. 

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