Now that the tournament is over, with the
Germans crowned champions, I have
selected my best XI from Brazil 2014.
Manuel Neuer (Germany): won the best
goalkeeper award and it’s hardly surprising.
Redefined the role of keeper-sweeper; only beaten
four times in the whole tournament.
Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina): had Phillip Lahm
played at right back all tournament he would
have been a big shout. But he didn’t, and
Zabaletta’s toughness and uncompromising
approach made him hard to go past.
Mats Hummels (Germany): big, strong, good
defender who also weighed in with a couple of
Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica): a surprise
package within the surprise team of the
tournament, Costa Rica, Gonzalez was calm cool
and collected in the most parsimonious defence in
the World Cup. Interesting to see how long he
stays with Columbus Crew in the US.
Daley Blind (The Netherlands): more of a wing
back than a left back, Blind was quick, aggressive
and skilful, and also got on the scoresheet
against Brazil in the third-place game.
Javier Mascherano (Argentina): Like Zabaleta,
hard, with a great mentality and tactical
understanding. The heartbeat of the Argentine
team, the Barcelona midfielder is one of the best
in the business in the holding role.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany): vastly
experienced, the German midfielder had a great
game in the World Cup final and always gives 100
per cent. Can defend, create or go box to box.
James Rodriguez (Colombia): the breakout star
of the World Cup, the Colombian creative
midfielder was the pivotal player for his exciting
team and made as well as scored goals for
teammates. Won the golden boot as top scorer
with six goals.
Lionel Messi (Argentina): the go-to man for
Argentina, his goals got it through the group
stage. Always a threat with his close control and
electrifying change of pace.
Arjen Robben (The Netherlands): At 30 he should
be slowing down, but nobody told the flying
Dutchman. Super fast, skilful and with a nose for
goal, Robben was, for me, the standout player in
the World Cup. Admittedly his ability to fall over
at the slightest touch does detract from his
talents for many, but on pure ability few equals.
Thomas Mueller (Germany): if anyone is likely to
overhaul his compatriot Miroslav Klose as the
World Cup’s leading goalscorer (Klose has 16) it
is Mueller. Netted five this time and at 24 time is
very much on his side.