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The most handsome football players of the World Cup 2014

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A wise man once said, "What is World Cup football without the potential to occasionally ogle the form of fine-looking players over a chilled Caipirinha or two?"*

*OK, he might not have actually said that but the fact remains that checking out tasty men from all over the world remains one of the small but satisfying highlights of the World Cup; a delightful aside to all the bells, whistles and drama on the pitch.

While we're air-punching the goals and cringing at the penalty shoot-outs, some of us are also making a quiet kind of "Hello, there..." nod at the stream of muscled, handsome guys that pop up on our screen (no judgement). As Brazil gets underway in earnest, here's our pick of players to watch out for:

  • Cesc Fabregas

    Midfielder, Spain

    Darkly rugged with just the right amount of facial stubble, Cesc is a talent in every sense. He helped nail the lone goal scored in Spain's World Cup final victory over the Netherlands in 2010 and was also crucial in Spain's Euro 2012 triumph.

  • Marcelo Vieira

    Defender, Brazil

    The beautiful Marcelo learnt football from his grandpa and is truly a team player, declaring: "If I score, it’s really good and a huge happiness but I prefer that the team wins." He has a big collection of tatts, including one of an angel and a warrior.

  • Claudio Marchisio

    Midfielder, Italy

    Known as Il Principino (the Little Prince) in his native Italy, Claudio enjoys a heartthrob status thanks to a series of evocative, semi-clad Dolce & Gabbana ads.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo

    Forward, Portugal

    Even Vogue acknowledged the status of Cristiano as football's most marketable totty, running him naked on their cover alongside his model girlfriend Irina Shayk. You only have to look to social media to realise how huge his appeal is: he has 82 million Facebook likes and 26 million Twitter followers.

    Plus (somewhat randomly) Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fan, saying: "He has a superb physique and such fit abs."

  • Didier Drogba

    Forward, Côte d'Ivoire

    One glimpse at Didier's shoot for Marseille underwear brand Hom and we're sold on his sex appeal. But even fully dressed, on the pitch and off, he is a sight to behold - plus, this may be your last chance to see the 36-year-old striker in action during a World Cup.

  • Gerard Piqué

    Defender, Spain

    Shakira is one lucky lady. Spain's leading football star has been dating the Colombian pop star since 2010 and the couple had a son, Milan, last year. According to CNN, he is regarded as "a cheerful family man" but we're also rating his cheerful good looks.

  • Andrea Pirlo

    Midfielder, Italy

    All hail Andrea. This formidable player is a walking, talking testament to the magnetism of beards.

    "Every child’s dream is to take part in a World Cup in Brazil – I’m lucky to have this opportunity," he says. We think we're lucky he's taking part too...

  • Iker Casillas

    Goalkeeper, Spain

    If Andrea rocks a good beard, Iker has the monopoly on slick-looking 'taches.

    He is also in a long-term relationship with sultry Spanish TV reporter Sara Carbonero. She famously gave him a bit of an on-air grilling in the 2010 World Cup after he surrendered the only goal in a match defeat against the Swiss.

  • Jack Wilshere

    Midfielder, England

    Gorgeous Jack, as we like to call him, will be an extra reason for us to cheer on England during the World Cup. Maybe we'll just shout a fraction louder when he makes it on screen, or something.

    The 22-year-old looks to David Beckham as a style icon, telling Esquire: "He’s tried some audacious things."

  • Frederico Chaves Guedes

    Forward, Brazil

    Brazil's Fred, as he's known, goes a long way to satisfy our Brazilian hot man quota. He's also a devoted dad and is socially astute.

    "I am aware of the impact of football to people, especially to children in Brazil," he says. "It's about playing for a community, not just a country. Brazilian people always know how to overcome hardship, so they live in football and they've made the sport their own."

  • Keisuke Honda

    Midfielder, Japan

    With his trademark blonde spiky 'do, Keisuke is famed for his agile free-kick and dribbling skills. He's also a very snappy dresser - something that hasn't gone unnoticed as an AC Milan player.

    "He puts a Japanese twist on things, so it’s a little more playful than the typical Italian style," the men’s designer Robert Geller says.

  • Kevin-Prince Boateng

    Forward, Ghana

    Not only is Kevin-Prince easy on the eye, he's also been a vocal advocate of combating racism in football - a battle he's even taken to the UN.

    "Racism is still amongst us and is still a problem," he says. "It's not simply an argument for the history channel or something that belongs to the past or something that only happens in other countries. Racism is real, it exists here and now."

  • Lukas Podolski

    Forward, Germany

    Lovely Lukas was born in Poland and is good friends with F1 champion Michael Schumacher. He is confident about his country's hopes for World Cup victory, saying: "Germany are strong. We are very strong and we will fight for the World Cup."

  • Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior

    Forward, Brazil

    There's no doubting Neymar's credentials - both on the pitch, and in the fitness stakes. Brazil's big hope has appeared on the cover of Vogue Brazil alongside Gisele Bündchen and has a big fan in the form of GQ's style editor Will Welch, who says: "He’s kind of got it all: He’s good-looking, he’s a superstar."

  • Mario Balotelli

    Forward, Italy

    With fine form such as this, it's little wonder Mario has posed on the front cover of Sports Illustrated. He's a bit of a prankster and is often seen joking and laughing with his Italian teammates.

  • Mats Hummels

    Defender, Germany

    Mats beat out stiff competition from the likes of Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm and Thomas Muelle recently to be crowned the most popular member of Germany's World Cup squad, according to a study carried out by the University of Hoffenheim.

    "Hummels personifies the charismatic competitor who is always calm and fair," explained Markus Voeth, the man in charge of the internet survey of 929 people. Hmm. And his looks can't hurt, either...

  • Thomas Vermaelen

    Defender, Belgium

    Thomas divides his time easily between being Arsenal's captain, a defender for Belgium - oh, and looking hot. He has an equally gorgeous English girlfriend (Polly Parsons) and apparently loves life in the British capital saying, "I can easily walk around in central London [without getting approached]. And if I leave my house with my girlfriend, we do not have paparazzi waiting for us outside the door!"

  • Noel Valladares

    Goalkeeper, Honduras

    Fun fact: Noel is Honduras' second most capped footballer of all time, after Amado Guevara. But he's modest about his talents (and lovely looks) - his nickname in the Honduras team is "The Secret" because of his shy, quiet nature.

  • Mario Gotze

    Midfielder, Germany

    "It's impossible to stop Mario Gotze," says Germany's two-time World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer. "You just cannot play any better than him. He just strolls through as if there are no opponents."

    We have high hopes for him as the World Cup kicks off, not least because we'll get to see him in action, on our living room TV screen.

  • Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior

    Midfielder, Brazil

    The 22-year-old Brazilian has been singled by Calvin Klein as its underwear model for the World Cup. "He looks really hot and sexy in it [Calvin Klein]," said Kevin Carrigan, a Calvin Klein global creative director. "It’s quintessential Calvin."

    We can't say we disagree with that particular choice of adjectives.

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