Pro Soccer Talk’s Top 100 World Cup players: 100-76

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Pro Soccer Talk asked each of our writers to submit a list of the 50 top players heading to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which would then be combined to make our Top 100 players for the tournament. The rationale was to be pretty broad, with neither limitation nor minimums placed on number of representatives per country or position. After the submitted lists, players were given weighted points for their position on individual lists. A bonus was given if a player was named by each of our writers.

Surely there will be some awful omissions, players placed higher or lower than expected and a bevy of other issues with the list… but that’s why we do lists. There’s much to be discussed. How does player No. 77, for instance, sit that low (or high) on the list? Are English and American players being overvalued (probably and maybe)?

MORE: Pro Soccer Talk’s Top 100 World Cup Players: 100-76 | 75-51 | 50-26 | 25-1

In the meantime, we promise not to make you click “next” 100 times. Just check back every day for the next 25 until we arrive at Friday’s thrilling finale.

100-91

100. Joe Hart, England

99. Rafa Marquez, Mexico

98. Diego Benaglio, Switzerland

97. Antonio Valencia, Ecuador

96. Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica

95. Ashkan Dejagah, Iran

94. Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Greece

93. Aleksandr Kokorin, Russia

92. Madjid Bougherra, Algeria

91. Emmanuel Emenike, Nigeria

Analysis: Some of the best players from World Cup “outliers” make their appearances here, with Valencia (Manchester United), Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven) and Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham) familiar to those who follow English football. Old MLS nemesis Marquez makes his way to the list, while Hart clearly shows that England gets a lot of love from our voters.

source: AP90-81

90. Clint Dempsey, United States

89. Ezekial Lavezzi, Argentina

88. Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland

87. Wilfried Bony, Ivory Coast

86. John Obi Mikel, Nigeria

85. Jack Wilshere, England

84. Gervinho, Ivory Coast

83. Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Russia

82. Shinji Kagawa, Japan

81. Fabio Coentrao, Portugal

Analysis: Did you have Dempsey anywhere near your Top 100 (assuming, of course, that you’ve done a Top 100)? The former Fulham and Tottenham player is in fine form for Seattle and will be counted on for leadership in Brazil. Names like Coentrao and Kerzhakov being in the 80s certainly say a lot for just how much talent is headed to the tournament.

80-76

source: Getty Images80. Thomas Muller, Germany

79. Diego Forlan, Uruguay

78. Asmir Begovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

77. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany

76. Diego Godin, Uruguay

Analysis: Yup. Look at these final five. Wow. Godin may have raised his profile in his final two matches of Atletico Madrid’s season, while Schweinsteiger at No. 77 is a head scratcher. As for Begovic, the World Cup could take his profile to new heights.

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.