Five Aside: Cabaye, Dos Santos and Eto’o lead the way

Posted by Zach Rodgers, ESPN Stats & Information

While the Bundesliga finished its final weekend of its winter break, the four other major European leagues were all in full swing this week. With many of the star-powered clubs racking up goals this weekend, there were plenty of noteworthy performances to go around. Here are this week's five players who have improved their chances of playing in Brazil.

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon): Not only did Eto’o’s hat trick send Chelsea to a 3-1 win against rival Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, the game doubled his EPL goal total this season. Eto’o has now scored the winner in his last two league starts for Chelsea, as his first-half goal against Liverpool gave the Blues a 2-1 win in December.

Despite much being made of Eto’o’s national team drama, Cameroon still called the star forward into the lineup for its 4-1 win against Tunisia. The November victory secured Cameroon’s bid for the World Cup. In 2010, Eto’o scored Cameroon’s only two goals as they lost all three matches.

Thiago Silva (Brazil): Silva netted his third goal of the Ligue 1 season Sunday for PSG after not scoring in 22 league games last season. Silva also ranks among the best passing defenders in France as his 64.9 completed passes per game leads all Ligue 1 defensemen this season.

Silva’s defense was on full display for Brazil during the 2013 Confederations Cup. The Brazilians held opponents to a tournament-low three goals in five games, highlighted by a 3-0 shutout of offensive juggernaut Spain in the final.

Giovani Dos Santos (Mexico): Dos Santos tallied twice on Monday to guide Villarreal to a 5-1 win against Real Sociedad. Dos Santos has already scored more La Liga goals this season (8) than he had all of last season (6). Dos Santos ranks in the top 12 in La Liga in both goals and assists (5) this season.

While Dos Santos was held without a goal during the final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, his 169 touches in the attacking third were the fourth most in the group. Last summer, Dos Santos led Mexico with eight created chances in three games during the Confederations Cup.

Yohan Cabaye (France): With his role for the international team still uncertain, Cabaye’s remaining 2013-14 campaign could be imperative in deciding his involvement for France when they travel to Brazil. Cabaye recorded his first multi-goal game of the EPL season with his 95th-minute free kick strike.

With a bid to the World Cup at stake, Cabaye played the full 90 minutes in the second-leg of the playoff qualifier against Ukraine, tying for the team-lead with 60 completed passes in the game.

David Ospina (Colombia): Ospina has quietly become one of the premier goalkeepers in Ligue 1. In his last 11 league games for Nice, Ospina has posted seven clean sheets, while not allowing more than one goal in a game during that span.

The Colombian keeper also stood out during CONMBEOL qualifying, recording seven shutouts during the 16 games in the final stage. Ospina’s 79.4 save percentage led all South American goalkeepers with at least five starts during qualifying. Ospina and Colombia held opponents to 12 goals in the final qualifying stage, three fewer than any other team.


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