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Mario Sports Superstars is only a few days away, so we’re continuing our brand new miniseries here at Nintendo Wire! Over the next couple days, we’ll be covering each sport that will be included in the new game, choosing real world athletes and matching them up with their Mushroom Kingdom counterparts. Today, we’re continuing the Mushroom Mashup series with the most popular sport around the world: soccer. Ever wondered which Mario characters are similar to some of the stars of the sport? It’s time to find out!

Professor E. Gadd: Manuel Neuer

Generally considered as the top goalkeeper in the world, Manuel Neuer sucks every ball up as if he’s a vacuum. He’s known for sweet highlights and mind-blowing saves, and he’s categorized as a “sweeper-keeper,” thanks to his extreme ability to move all over the zone. Professor E. Gadd may not have the physical range and ability of the best goalkeeper in the world, but thanks to his groundbreaking technology, E. Gadd can suck up every ghost just like Neuer can gobble up every soccer ball that heads his way.

Toad: Hernan Crespo

Toad’s hat/head (does anyone really know which it is?) is huge. Because of the supreme size of the headgear, Toad is able to head the ball unlike any other Mario character on the pitch. In the real world, Hernan Crespo is regarded as the best header in the history of the game, scoring magical goals using nothing but his head.

Hammer Bro: Claude Makélélé

Think back to your days playing classic Mario games. Who was the hardest enemy to get by? The answer is undoubtedly Hammer Bro. His unpredictable style of movement and ability to move all over the map make him the best defensive enemy in the Mario universe. Claude Makélélé was the best around at anticipating opponent movement, being aggressive and not letting anything get past him. He revolutionized the defensive midfielder, and it’s lovingly nicknamed after him by many in the community. Just like Hammer Bro, Claude Makélélé gave headaches to every opponent who had to figure out a way around him.

We’ll be back tomorrow for the golf edition of Mushroom Mashup!

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Written by Logan Plant

Logan loves voicing his opinions just as much as writing them. When he isn’t gaming or writing, Logan’s probably recording a podcast or chatting on the radio. Video game journalism is his passion, and he hopes to cover video games for years to come.