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Top 10 players to watch in the World Cup

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LIONEL MESSI (Argentina): Shy, only 22, and already considered the best soccer player in the world, he’s a magician with the ball. You’ll need slow motion to keep track of his footwork once he starts weaving through opponents inside the box. He scored one goal in his first World Cup appearance, in 2006, which also made him, at age 18, the youngest player to play for Argentina in the World Cup. “Messi is a creature as biologically adapted to play football as a shark is to smell blood, a salmon to swim upstream, a squirrel to gather nuts,” says the London Times. He plays professionally for Barcelona. Soccer fans in Pretoria, South Africa, wave to Messi and teammate Juan Sebastian Veron during practice on June 6.

PHOTO: Enrique Marcarian/Reuters

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