TRIBAL’S WORLD CUP XI: Messi, Muller and Rodriguez lead the way

As is customary at a World Cup, everybody attempts to pick their best XI for the tournament.
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As is customary at a World Cup, everybody attempts to pick their best XI for the tournament.

Here at tribalfootball.com we are no different and below are our endeavours to try and select who we feel were the best-performed players at Brazil 2014.

tribal’s 2014 World Cup XI
4-4-2 formation

Goalkeeper

Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)

Navas was an absolute star with the gloves for Los Ticos.

The Levante keeper conceded just two goals in five games as Costa Rica surprised everyone by making it through to the quarter-finals.

27-year old Navas made a total of 21 saves during the tournament including a number of world-class stops at crucial moments in matches which allowed the Central American nation to progress as far as they did.

Arguably you could throw in Germany’s Manuel Neuer but I feel Costa Rica’s defence did not give Navas as much cover as the German back four has given the Bayern Munich ace.

A brilliant individual showing from Navas who is sure to gain attention from plenty of clubs around Europe with Bayern already credited with an interest.

Defenders

Philipp Lahm (Germany)

The Germany captain began the tournament playing as a central midfielder but soon returned to his customary right-back position where he was a star, particularly in the final.

Lahm plays with a calmness and assuredness that we have become so fond of as football fans when casting our eyes on either Bayern Munich or die Mannschaft.

Nothing ever seems to faze the 30-year old who once again has led his country with great effect, this time gaining the massive reward of the World Cup trophy.

Mats Hummels (Germany)

The Borussia Dortmund centre-half has been colossal at the back for the title-winning Germans.

Continually throwing his body in the way of the ball and forming a miserly defensive formation with Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Howedes and Per Mertesacker, Hummels has been the best centre-back at Brazil 2014.

His performance against France in the quarter-final when scoring an early header and denying the dangerous Karim Benzema on multiple occasions was inspirational.

25-year old Hummels also netted against Portugal in the opener but it was his defensive efforts which were the standout showings of the cup.

He has stepped up to become truly a world class central defender and Dortmund will reap the benefits in the Bundesliga this season as he is sure to return with confidence sky high, however, Manchester United are sniffing around.

Stefan de Vrij (Holland)

One of many other defenders in line for the second central position, de Vrij gets the nod after controlling a three-man defence with Ron Vlaar who was also super impressive.

The 22-year old Feyenoord man was constantly cutting out opposition forays into the final third and was also involved in a lot of Dutch attack, particularly in the air at set pieces.

He was assured on the ball with a pass completion rate of 92% and his 58 recovered balls was the highest in the tournament highlighting his willingness to work for his team.

Feyenoord are already expecting offers for de Vrij who is now being linked with a move to Manchester United to follow departed Dutch boss Louis van Gaal while Lazio are also believed to be keen.

Marcos Rojo (Argentina)

Sporting Lisbon full-back Rojo was one of the most consistent performers at the 2014 World Cup.

The 24-year old started six of Argentina’s seven matches in the tournament and was as adept in going forward as he was in defence.

Rojo was a key part of a defensive setup that conceded just four goals in seven matches as La Albiceleste made their way to the final which they lost in extra-time to the all-conquering Germans.

Links with Chelsea and Liverpool have already been made and although it is not certain where he will end up, you can expect to see Rojo taking a step up from the Portuguese league in the not too distant future.

His match-winning goal in the 3-2 group stage win over Nigeria was an attacking highlight but his defensive efforts in the hardly-fought semi-final penalty shootout triumph against the dangerous Dutch suggests he is now world class.

Midfielders

Thomas Muller (Germany)

The modern day World Cup hero was again simply brilliant following on from his five-goal 2010 tournament in South Africa.

24-year old Bayern Munich attacking midfielder netted another five goals and provided another three assists as the Germans clinched the 2014 World Cup.

Muller had a hand in as many goals as runner-up Argentina scored for the entire tournament and in my opinion should have been named the Golden Ball winner as the Player of the Tournament.

Muller scored a fine hat-trick in the opening 4-0 victory over Portugal, the only goal in the 1-0 win over the USA and set the scene with the first goal in the 7-1 semi-final rout of Brazil.

He set up final hero Mario Gotze for the first goal in the 2-2 draw with Ghana, supplied Andre Schurrle with the opener in the 2-1 extra-time triumph over Algeria in the Round of 16 and helped finish the rout of the Brazilians by again assisting for Schurrle.

Muller is now a bona fide star of the game after a surprising 2010 tournament with his Silver Ball and Silver Boot awards this year adding to his 2010 Golden Boot and Young Player prizes.

Muller now has a sublime World Cup finals record of 10 goals and six assists from 13 matches and is odds on to beat teammate Miroslav Klose’s record of 16 World Cup goals.

Toni Kroos (Germany)

Kroos was sublime throughout the tournament, constantly calling the shots in his playmaking role for the brilliant German side.

The 24-year old Bayern Munich midfielder scored twice and produced four assists for die Mannschaft which has prompted Real Madrid to come in for his services.

Kroos was the best performer according to the Castrol Index with a rating of 9.74 from his seven outings which simply highlights his consistency.

He scored his two goals in the semi-final hammering of the hosts and was regularly setting up attacking advances in the final against Argentina.

Kroos was one of 10 nominees for the Golden Ball award and was in the end a deserved winner of the 2014 World Cup.

Paul Pogba (France)

The highly-rated Juventus midfielder came of age at this tournament with assured performances in the centre of midfield for France.

Pogba was named the Young Player of the Tournament for his solid contribution to Les Bleus’ quarter-finals finish, beating Dutch youngster Memphis Depay and national teammate Raphael Varane to the gong.

He scored a vital goal in the 2-0 Round of 16 win over Nigeria and was often pulling the strings in the centre of the pitch, especially when the French were flying early in the tournament.

Pogba is sure to take plenty from his displays in Brazil and Juventus are likely to benefit unless the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea are successful in their reported pursuits.

Arjen Robben (Holland)

The Bayern Munich winger was Holland’s bets player as the Oranje finished in third place.

His wizardry on the ball and creativity in the attacking half was at times spellbinding and probably would have won over many more fans if he wasn’t so frequently hurling himself onto the floor.

Robben formed a deadly attacking trio with Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder and so often the Dutch looked extremely menacing up forward as a result.

The performances of Robben landed him the bronze Golden Ball for the third best player at the World Cup behind Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller.

Forwards

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

The Barcelona great was consistent without being brilliant throughout the tournament in which he was named the adidas Golden Ball winner.

So much is expected of Messi that we all feel he should easily win games off his own boot but World Cups aren’t quite that simple.

Early in the tournament, Messi was the catalyst for all of Argentina’s group stage wins before opposition defences started to really close him down.

His match-winning goal in the 2-1 triumph over Bosnia-Herzegovina in their opening fixture in Rio was a thing of beauty, as was the late winner against Iran, while he starred with two goals in the 3-2 win over Nigeria to round out the group.

Messi landed four Man of the Match awards for his early performances but his output somewhat dried up in the bigger games as highlighted by his failure to touch the ball in the final third – apart from his penalty – in the semi-final shootout win over Holland.

Nevertheless, the 27-year old was a star at the 2014 World Cup and despite his disappointment in the final defeat to Germany, he deserves his place in the best XI.

James Rodriguez (Colombia)

The shining light of the World Cup with his energetic, skilful and damaging performances which helped the easy-on-the-eye Colombian side reach the quarter-finals.

Monaco young gun Rodriguez won the Golden Boot award after finishing with six goals in five matches, including my vote for Goal of the Tournament, when he produced a stunning volley in his two-goal Round of 16 outing against Uruguay.

The 23-year old also provided a couple of assists as he often ran riot with his partner in crime Juan Cuadrado.

Rodriguez’s outstanding tournament has seen him become the most in-demand player in the transfer window with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all showing interest.

Manager

Joachim Low (Germany)

‘Jogi’ as he is affectionately known has to be the Manager of the Tournament after guiding Germany to victory.

Die Mannschaft’s record of six wins and a draw as well as 18 goals for and four against is simply sublime and thoroughly deserving of the World Cup trophy.

Low has instilled a fighting character in his supremely talented players which proved to the perfect mix as they went on to produce some hard-fought victories in amongst their stunning free-flowing performances.

A true humble gentleman of the game, the former national team assistant will go down in history as one of the greats, especially with Germany on the cusp of a savagely successful dynasty.

Bench

Manuel Neuer (Germany) – GK
Raphael Varane (France) – DEF
Ron Vlaar (Holland) – DEF
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) – MID
Javier Mascherano (Argentina) – MID
Neymar (Brazil) – FWD
Karim Benzema (France) – FWD

 
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