FourFourTwo Picks: The Left Centre-backs
But here's the twist. Instead of posting our predicted lineups all at one go, Jeremy Lim and Dominic Neo will reveal one member of the team each day, as we count down the number of sleeps till the big match.
Without further ado, we present FourFourTwo Picks: The Left Centre-backs.
More than a handful — and a mouthful — for strikers
Team: Juventus FC
He may have suffered four broken noses and copped a bite from Luis Suarez so far in his career but that’s not going to stop big Giorgio Chiellini from playing his game. The 30-year-old is a physical behemoth whose sheer tenacity often causes him to get under his opponents’ skin.
Yet don’t just pass off Chiellini as another hard-nosed brute — there is a notable finesse and efficiency as the centre-back goes about his duties. He has mastered the subtleties of his defensive art, constantly showcasing his brilliant know-how in the tackle or interception while earning the affections of fans with lionhearted displays. Indeed, Chiellini has been pivotal for Juventus since joining them in 2005, stamping his influence on the backline and then the rest of the squad as the Bianconeri’s current vice-captain.
Today, he is Italy’s last true world-class stopper. The battle-scarred veteran has taken many beatings but always given as good as he got, most importantly withstanding the test of time. As club and country seek new glories, you can bet Chiellini will be right there in the thick of the action.
A defender and a striker — rolled into one
Team: Singapore Selection
There are sky-high expectations for this lanky, unassuming 22-year old. In 2013, he became the first male athlete to win the Straits Times Athlete of the year — a deserved accolade for an outstanding season with the LionsXII. Former A-League Coach Alistair Edwards also once said that Safuwan was good enough for the Australian A-League. A nailed-on starter for all the coaches he has been under, Safuwan’s ability and potential are clear.
His mature performances belie his young age. Calm, assured and intelligent with his movement, the LionsXII star’s technical excellence and tactical nous allows him to be deployed almost anywhere on the pitch. His knack for scoring goals – he has averaged a goal in every three games for the LionsXII in the last three seasons – is testament to his football intelligence and composure.
Bernd Stange knows he has a talent in his hands, and the world is his oyster, should he fulfill his potential.
“If we look after him well enough, he is a player who can develop and play at a high international standard,” he said. "I believe he knows how much hard work is necessary to be ready for top European football … he is on the right path to achieving his footballing dreams."
FourFourTwo will be at the Singapore Sports Hub on August 16 to watch the Singapore Selection take on Juventus FC. Will either Chiellini or Safuwan make a contribution at either end? You'll only find out if you join us there! Tickets to the match - priced from S$45 to S$180 for adults and S$30 to S$45 for children – are still available at Sports Hub Tix (www.sportshubtix.sg). And don't forget a special National Day Promotion this weekend, with half priced childrens tickets when bought with an adult ticket. Additional adult/child tickets will also be 10% off.