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
Phillip Lahm, Mats Hummels, Ron Vlaar, Daley Blind
James Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Bastian Schweinsteiger
Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben
Ezequiel Garay, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Thiago Silva, Jerome Boateng
Toni Kroos, Wesley Sneijder, Oscar
Neymar, Robin Van Persie, Karim Benzema
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.
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.