SBI’s 2014 World Cup Best XI

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Photo by Steven Limentani/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

The 2014 World Cup might now be a thing of the past, but there were more than enough strong showings throughout the tournament to keep fans talking for a while.

From Manuel Neuer’s impressive performances in goal for Germany to Arjen Robben’s electric outings for the Netherlands to James Rodriguez’s attention-grabbing games for Colombia, the recently-concluded World Cup had no shortage of stellar play from individuals looking to make an impact on soccer’s grandest stage. Quality was on full display from the start of the competition until the end, and but only a few did so on a real consistent basis.

SBI has narrowed down the 33 best players from the 2014 World Cup and split them up into three Best XIs. The first team is led by the aforementioned trio, but each of the three squads selected boasts plenty of talent that shone in Brazil this summer.

Here are SBI’s 2014 World Cup Best XI first, second and third teams:

SBI World Cup Best XI

FIRST TEAM

Manuel Neuer

Phillip Lahm, Mats Hummels, Ron Vlaar, Daley Blind

James Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Bastian Schweinsteiger

Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben

SECOND TEAM

Keylor Navas

Ezequiel Garay, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Thiago Silva, Jerome Boateng

Toni Kroos, Wesley Sneijder, Oscar

Neymar, Robin Van Persie, Karim Benzema

THIRD TEAM

Tim Howard

Pablo Zabaleta, Gary Medel, Mario Yepes, Ricardo Rodriguez

Paul Pogba, Jermaine Jones, Sami Khedira

Alexis Sanchez, Andre Schurrle, Juan Cuadrado

Some thoughts on first-team player selections:

NEUER - Was a monster from start to finish, making superb stops, coming off his line well and playing with a fearlessness that helped pave the way for Germany’s fourth World Cup title.

LAHM - Started the tournament in midfield but also spent time in defense. He was one of the Germans who was most consistent throughout the tournament and that’s saying a lot given the steady performances that many of his compatriots delivered.

HUMMELS - The top defender on Germany’s stingy back line, Hummels was arguably the best centerback in the whole tournament. He did not struggle too much despite facing some talented strikers, and was very solid in the final.

VLAAR - Anchored the Dutch’s back line, playing a big part in their defensive toughness throughout the tournament. His overall game was very strong.

BLIND - The left back of the tournament enjoyed a good few games in Brazil. His defending opened the eyes of many who were unfamiliar with him and he got a just reward with his well-taken goal in the third-place game against Brazil.

RODRIGUEZ - It was already known that Rodriguez had talent, but how he played in his first tournament on the world’s stage was impressive nonetheless. He scored a goal that deserves consideration for the tournament’s best, and was a huge reason why Colombia made history by reaching the quarterfinals. He also finished the tournament as the leading scorer with six goals despite playing in just five games.

MASCHERANO - Torn anus and all, Mascherano never let up. He was one of the primary reasons why Argentina looked so strong defensively in the competition, and why it made it to the final for the first time in a long time.

SCHWEINSTEIGER - Most will remember the beating he took in the final, but the veteran midfielder was splendid throughout. He broke up plays, fought hard for 50-50 balls, and connected some good passes to help Germany’s well-oiled machine perform at its best.

MESSI - He was arguably the best player in the Group Stage thanks in part to all the timely goals he scored, but did not have the same kind of impact in the knockout rounds that saw him go scoreless. He is still one of the world’s very best, but he would have not made this best XI had another forward stepped up and been a little bit better over a longer period.

MULLER - As much as the goal against the U.S. Men’s National Team might hurt American fans, it depicted his outstanding tournament perfectly. Muller was the Germans’ go-to goal-scorer in Brazil and found ways to make an impact even when he wasn’t finding the back of the net.

ROBBEN - His art of flopping is second to none, but he was regardless one of the World Cup’s best. Seemingly every time he touched the ball it looked as if the Netherlands could score, and his mazy dribbling runs were among the more memorable things from the tournament in Brazil.

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What do you think of SBI’s 2014 World Cup Best XI? Agree with the selection of players on the first team? Is there someone who isn’t on here that you feel should be?

Share your thoughts below.

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60 Responses to SBI’s 2014 World Cup Best XI

  1. SwanseaPS says:

    I think Kevin De Bruyne, Belgian midfielder, should definitely be on this list.. perhaps before Oscar..

  2. Older & Wiser says:

    I though Messi was largely forgettable for the tournament. I was a bit surprised since I was expecting bigger things from him. I happen to be a big Messi fan as well.

    • Joamiq says:

      He had the most chances created of anyone in the tournament. I think people are going a little overboard in their criticism of him.

      • Ali Dia says:

        I agree that he did a fine job for his team, which was not set up really to maximize his ability (how many teams are?). Not sure how he could’ve done all that much better (there are a few things, but he did well)

        But I can’t stand the “chances created” metric. Wildly subjective. Rewards mediocre buildup play and half-opportunities (i.e. the ones we typically give Mexico by the dozens… would love to see the “chances created” from the most recent 2-0 in Columbus. Not one scared me in the least.). Pet peeve I guess. Just wonder why these people can’t keep better tabs on more objective things (try looking up detailed historical stats on penalties saved/missed etc… shouldn’t this be easier?)

  3. A.S. says:

    I think Kroos has to be on the Best XI. Take out any of Robben, Messi or Muller.

    • Increase0 says:

      Kroos isn’t a forward. I know he is large and scored a few goals but he is 100% a center midfielder.

    • beachbum says:

      Kroos over Schweinsteiger maybe? somehow Kroos on the XI tho as maybe even Germany’s best player in Brazil. Kroos and the ones chosen all worthy imo; maybe drop Messi and go with 4 mids

      • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

        Kroos had a poor final. I will agree that he had a better overall tourney than Schweiny, who sat the bench for a while during the Lahm midfield experiment, but Bastian was quite good in the final (despite all his time rolling around on the pitch).

        • beachbum says:

          wouldn’t say it was poor but that’s cool, we disagree there. Schweinsteiger had a great final, definitely, but still thought Kroos was the best German in Brazil with Mueller, saying quite a bit that is I know

    • Joamiq says:

      Kroos had a much better tournament than Oscar.

  4. iggy says:

    I’d drop Tiago Silva down….yes, he is clearly important to his team, but he missed the semi for a stupid yellow card, and oh boy did it cost them.

    • Dave says:

      +1

      That bonehead 10 secs cost Brazil dearly. He should have been playing, and a little organization and shape might kept them in the game.

      His part in the ignominy should not be neglected.

      • Anthony says:

        Big miss, but that would not have prevented a Germany victory. With Neymar and Silva, Germany still would have won. I think it would not have been 7 -1 (really should have been 9 -1 because Germany missed two clear chances). I think Germany still would won 3/4 – 1. Brazil is just an emotionally weak team. They need more steel/resilience.

    • beto says:

      Oh Ya.. probably the highest rated CB in the world before the cup did not have a good tournament!

    • beachbum says:

      +1 huge brain fart, and it cost them

  5. MiamiAl says:

    I had no idea Mascherano had a torn anus…

    • Dinho says:

      Ha! I missed that the first time through. Is that true? That is too funny…way too easy to crack jokes (yes, crack was used on purpose)

    • Neeskens13 says:

      He’s going to have a problem keeping things tight at the back!

  6. arg says:

    Howard for the 3rd TEAM

    Sounds about right.

    the best GK in the tournament, are they measured on

    Man of the Match awards? Saves? Clean sheets? or what?

    cause the 3 selected for ALL TEAM TOURNAMENT should be Neuer, Navaz and Howard

    • Anthony says:

      3rd is a pretty battle btw Howard, Enyema and Raïs M’Bohli (maybe Ochoa, but I was one of the few who felt his performance against Brazil was overrated).

    • Joamiq says:

      Howard only played 4 games though, so I have no problem with him not being selected as a finalist for best keeper. Courtois and Ospina were both also very good.

  7. arg says:

    Toni Kroos was pretty good

    Schweinsteiger showed how GREAT he is.

    but what about the starting XI for worst players of the tournament? Does Costa make it?

  8. Francois says:

    Shaqiri? He should be somewhere on that list.

  9. Benjamin C. says:

    Manuel Neuer was great and was definitely entertaining to watch for a goalkeeper. However, for whatever reason, I get the feeling he potentially has an epic blunder in him that will cost Germany a trophy somewhere down the line.

    • chuck says:

      To be fair, I’m sure all German fans would trade winning the 2014 Fifa World Cup ™ for a “potentially epic blunder that will cost Germany a trophy somewhere down the line.”

      • Benjamin C. says:

        There is a major possibility that this theoretical blunder never comes, but he takes a fair number of risks, so the chances are there. Plus, most extremely serious fan bases don’t allow past success to prevent them from getting angry over failure in the present. I’m from the South and have to hear the constant whining of Alabama fans whenever they don’t win a National Championship in college football, despite all of their accomplishments, both recent and in the more distant past.

    • EspinDOHla says:

      I agree that the way he plays could lead to “an epic blunder” but that’s also what the commentators were saying throughout the tournament and it didn’t happen. More power to him for keeping it clean!!

  10. Bird says:

    Bryan Ruiz? Joel Campbell for sure! Khedira was great, when he played. But he only played in 3 games out of 7.

  11. chuck says:

    I thought Jan Vertonghen of Belgium was worthy of making one of these teams.

  12. Luke says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that Navas and arguably Howard had a better tournament than Neuer, if not only because they both had more to do? Don’t get me wrong, Neuer was great, but I don’t feel like Neuer kept his team in games the way Navas and Howard did.

    • Mikey K says:

      I agree, both did very good and made great saves.

    • nato says:

      Neuer was arguably man of the match for Germany against Algeria

      plus he has like 4 cleansheets I believe

      It should be ranked as Neuer, Navas, Howard, Ochoa, Algerian keeper

    • Xander Crews says:

      I actually thought Howard was pretty overrated by many. He had one outstanding game against Belgium, but I put a portion of the blame for Portugal’s equalizing goal on him. Watch it again and see that he had nobody in front of him to guard against, only the one man on the back post who put the ball in the net. He should have come out for that cross, as he didn’t need to worry about someone cutting in front of him.

  13. SBI TroII says:

    I would have had Fabian Johnson in the third team and bumped one of the extra CBs listed. And even as a big Jermaine Jones fan I would have Di Maria over him. Jones seemed to wear out as the tournament wore on.

  14. Roberto says:

    1st team…totally eurosnob…Vlaar is better for a Robocop starring role. put Medel there. Mascherano is an Argentinean invention, the guy is all effort but face it, he can’t play the ball. put Vidal even if he’s injured he can fly circles around Masche. Messi doesn’t deserve first team honours , do you work for Blatter? rest of the team is eurosnob I can think of so many others but right now gotta go.

    • Roberto says:

      oh and Junior Diaz from Costa Rica at LB rather than Daley Blind..Medel has to be there for Vlaar because he’s is better on the ball and will tackle with his head if necessary and play with groin injury…did you know he’s was given a hero medal from the army? first soccer player to get it? Vlaar ?? seriously? I’m the biggest Messi fan but cmon he’s a real dissapointment and his body language and “pecho frio” attitude got me real fed up. he was “good” (for his standard) only in the first phase

    • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

      Chile homer? Masherano was a rock and he distributed very well out of the back. He’s the main reason Arg kept a clean sheet through the knockout round. No disrespect to Vidal, but Javi had a WAY better tournament.

  15. skatetyb says:

    did you not see howard save the baby from the fire, and save a cat falling from a tree!!! he’s best 11 for sure!!!

  16. Joamiq says:

    I seem to be the only person who thinks this, but I think Hummels has been a little overrated. He’s a very solid centerback, no doubt, but his lack of pace would hurt Germany more if they didn’t have Neuer behind him.

    • beachbum says:

      could be tho he came up big in more than just a couple of games in Brazil. Boateng was pure beast mode in the final and dominated, outshined him and all in the final imo

    • Borussia DortMan says:

      Haha you must not watch the Bundesliga saying that.

  17. Bradley's Missing Mop says:

    The fact that Argentina doesn’t have a defender up until the 3rd team is a joke.