Sports Shorts

World CupMy World Cup 2014 Team of the Tournament. 

Unfortunately the World Cup is over for another four years until it starts all over again in Russia 2018. I’m sure you will agree this World Cup has been a really good one and it had absolutely everything.

The only thing left to do is name my team of the tournament. The players that stood out for me in the last four weeks. As per usual some may agree or disagree but they are my decisions and I’m sticking to them.

 

Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas – Costa Rica

NavasBefore the start you would have said for Cost Rica to get to the quarter finals their goalkeeper would have to play out of his skin, that is exactly what he did. Clean sheets against England, Italy and Netherlands. Only conceded a pen against Uruguay and a last-minute goal against Greece but made the decisive save in the shoot out. Says it all really.

Runner Up: Tim Howard – USA
Set a World Cup record with 15 saves v Belgium.

Right Back: Phillip Lahm – Germany

Lahm.I could have put him in a number of positions on here but right back suits him best. Throughout the tournament I kept saying “Lahm is class”. He epitomizes solid defending, was also great on the ball and I don’t think I saw him lose the ball once. To me he was the perfect leader and no more deserving captain to lift the World Cup. My third best player of the tournament.

Runner Up: Pablo Zabaleta – Argentina
Extremely good throughout, was relentless on the right, his engine is scary.

Center Back: Thiago Silva – Brazil

Thiago SilvaSome might raise their eyebrows but even though Brazil flattered to deceive at no time did they show their semi final vulnerabilities and for me that says so much about him. He used all his experience and ability to hold that team together throughout the tournament and judging by what Germany did to them that was a monumental feat.

Runner Up: Ron Vlaar – Netherlands
Was a defensive stalwart. First had Costa, then Messi in his back pocket in.

Center Back: Matts Hummels – Germany

HummellsI think he dismissed all his fitness questions and fears by performing admirably in all seven games in Brazil, including two games going into extra time. Also scored the all important winner against France in the quarter finals. Was a rock in the final.

Runner Up: Giancarlo Gonzalez – Costa Rica
Was the stand out defender and key component in his teams tremendous run to the quarter finals.

Left Back: Daley Blind – Netherlands

Blind.With an ex international as a father who is part of Holland’s coaching staff you would be excused to think he got a leg up into the team. But after this tournament you can see he is there on merit. Whether he’s playing left back or wing back he was solid at the back, while surprising industrious going forward. His superb assist (one of three) for Van Persie’s goal v Spain set the tone.

Runner Up: Ricardo Rodriguez – Switzerland
Really impressed me, had the left locked down in all four games, including v Argentina.

Center Midfield: Javier Mascherano – Argentina

MascheranoFor me he upstaged Messi and looked the real leader of Argentina. Had a phenomenal World Cup and more than anyone was unlucky to be on the losing side. The harder game became the more he excelled. Not only in defending, he also stepped up and began to drive the team forward with telling, defense splitting passes. Second best player at the World Cup for me.

Runner Up: Blaise Matuidi – France
Was key to France’s surprising good run. Drove the team on, covered every blade of grass and never shirked a tackle.

Center Midfield: Toni Kross – Germany

Kroos.Another one of those very unique players that always seems to, or look like they have all the time and space in the world. While others were offering lung busting, all actions displays, he seemed to play the game at this own pace and never looked flustered. Two goals and four assists for a supposed holding midfielder tells its own story.

Runner Up: Sebastian Schweinsteiger – Germany
Was again masterful in the middle for Germany and put his body on the line for his country.

Right Wing: Alexis Sanchez – Chile

SanchezI always knew he was good but this tournament showed how intelligent he is as a footballer. Played a very important role for his country, bringing other players into the game with selfless runs and passes, even tracked back to win the ball.  He then popped up with important goals like the one against Brazil in the last 16, who he gave all sorts of problems to.

Runner Up: Juan Cuadrado – Colombia
During the tournament I called him “mini Ronaldinho.” Was exciting every time he touched the ball.

Center Midfield: James Rodriguez – Colombia

RodriguezMy player of the tournament. Lit up the World Cup with his inspiring performances and superb goals. Scored the goal of the tournament against Uruguay, his goal against Japan was not bad either. To finish top scorer with six goals from midfield is remarkable. As you saw with other players, to be named as star man before the tournament is one thing but to prove it is another.

Runner Up: Lionel Messi – Argentina
Carried the team through the group stages with four goals. Had a hand in both goals that won the second round and quarter finals.

Left Wing: Arjan Robben – Netherlands

RobbenHis performances in this World Cup proved he is a top, top player. Was Holland’s “go to guy” and looked dangerous every time he got the ball with his devastating and direct running at defenders. His demolition of Spain set the tone. Scored three goals and won the important penalty against Mexico in the second round that got his team into the quarter finals.

Runner Up: Angel di Maria – Argentina
Was Messi’s only real support. Scored the second round winner against Switzerland. Missed the semi and final where Argentina failed to score

Center Forward: Thomas Muller – Germany

MullerScored five goals at this World Cup to equal what he did four years ago. At only 24 he now has ten World Cup goals. Probably is the best example of how to play that lone striker position. His intelligence, movement and work rate impressed me most. Never stood still, though he was the lone striker I often saw him on the left or the right flank. Scary that he’s only 24 and is getting better.

Runner Up: Neymar – Brazil
Definitely was living up to his star billing and was carrying the team before his unfortunate injury.

Navas

Lahm   Thiago Silva   Hummels   Blind

Mascherano   Kroos

Sanchez   Rodriguez   Robben

Muller