World Cup 2014: Team Of The Tournament
As a fantastic World Cup comes to an end I, like many other armchair pundits, offer my team of the tournament.
Manuel Neuer (Germany, goalkeeper) - sometimes the most obvious choices are the correct ones and this stopper is considered the world’s best. His game-saving performance against Algeria (as well as the number of touches he made outside his own box) has been much talked about but standing up to the 10 minutes of second half pressure against Brazil in a desperate stadium was equally impressive.
Philipp Lahm (Germany, right-back) - described as the cleverest player he had coached by club boss Pep Guardiola and although he started in the defensive midfield role, Germany have looked far more secure since he returned to his natural position against France. Extremely comfortable in possession and offers great support to the winger in front of him, whilst the timing in his tackles even in and around his box is masterful.
Mats Hummels (Germany, centre-back) - missed Germany’s most fragile defensive performance (vs. Algeria in the last 16) then followed this up with a man of the match performance against a France team made to look toothless upon his return, Germany have conceded just three goals with Hummels in the side during this tournament.
Ron Vlaar (Holland, centre-back) - stepping up to take the first Dutch penalty in a World Cup semi-final suggests nerves of steel, doing so when two others have stepped aside suggests something stronger. Calm in leading his nation and marshalling less-experienced defensive partners whilst producing his best in the biggest games.
Daley Blind (Holland, left-back) - tactically aware enough to play in three positions during the tournament (a feat matched by Lahm over three World Cups). Adept in a tackle (made more than any team mate in his club season for Ajax) also supplied as many assists (three) as the much-heralded Toni Kroos including the looped pass for Van Persie’s goal of the tournament contender. Thought to be following the now former Holland manager Van Gaal to Man United we may soon see his play close up.
Javier Mascherano (Argentina, central midfield) - If Argentina had gone onto lift the trophy then some would declare it Messi’s tournament but many more will point to the contribution of Mascherano. The Argentinian defence was questioned before coming into the tournament (Nigeria’s two breakaway goals evidence as to why) but it has been shielded and driven into efficiency by the class and determination of Mascherano, who averaged just 1.2 fouls per game going into the final.
Hector Herrera (Mexico, central midfield) - not long before this World Cup the Mexican side were in disarray having to beat New Zealand in a play-off even to qualify but having been promoted from the 2012 Olympic winning side Herrera became part of the bright future. Capable of providing for his team mates (11 chances made) as well as appearing dangerous shooting from range he was massively influential (four key passes) against the Dutch and unlucky not to go through.
James Rodriguez (Colombia, attacking midfield) - during his final game of the tournament he was cynically treated by Brazilian defenders as they tried to remove the 23-year-old’s influence. In a game that very little football broke out James Rodriguez was a shining light as he has been throughout the World Cup and his total of six goals (one every 67 minutes) landed him with the golden boot despite not making it to the semi-finals. Some would argue he alone could have done a better job against Germany than the Brazilian team.
Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica, attacking midfield) - led his nation in goal scoring (with notably the crucial goal against Italy to secure shock group qualification) whilst also showing ability on the ball that could be matched by few of his fellow countrymen. Combine this with a work rate that could be matched by few memories of his time at Fulham, performing to a higher level than expected, all whilst leading his nation beyond what anyone could have predicted secures his place above Arjen Robben whose impact lessened as the tournament progressed.
Thomas MÃ¼ller (Germany, forward) - although Germany improved after MÃ¼ller shifted position to allow Klose to come back into the side as the focal point MÃ¼ller’s five goals and three assists make him impossible to leave out. Constant floating movement with a knack for goal scoring (now 10 in two World Cups) that suggests his team-mate Klose could soon be losing his World Cup goal scoring record (16 which came in four tournaments) in the years to come.
Alexis Sanchez (Chile, forward) - the individual embodiment of Chile’s inventiveness, relentless energy and determination that impressed so many, in his nation’s toughest and final game against Brazil Sanchez stepped up and led his side, which goes beyond contributing just 57% shot accuracy. Having recently signed for Arsenal this is another player that we will see much more of over the next season.
Want to win a Sprout T-shirt? Fill in theSprout Satisfaction Survey!
- Poem: Germany & The Winning Of The World Cup
- SproutNews 30/06/14 (World Cup Special)
- World Cup 2014: My Questions To Youâ€¦
Photo Credit: @DFB_Team_EN