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With the World Cup group phase now complete.

And the knockout stage about to begin, it’s an ideal opportunity to look at the best 5 players so far.

Top 5 players at the World Cup so far

5. James Rodriguez

Playing in the heart of Colombia’s midfield, this man might have gone unnoticed by some of you. Admittedly Colombia aren’t part of the exclusive group of ‘big hitters’, but they are emerging themselves as a big force in Brazil this year and James Rodriguez is certainly making his contribution.
James Rodriguez - ColumbiaScoring three goals from their opening three games, Rodriguez has grabbed himself two assists and a pass completion rate of 73%. A valuable asset to any team’s midfield.

4. Lionel Messi

After a slow start in the opening game against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lionel Messi showed his quality when it matters and popped up with a crucial goal to spare Argentina’s blushes. Ever since, Messi has rediscovered his form and has forced himself to the top of the goalscoring charts, level with Neymar on four.
Lionel Messi - ArgentinaHe has no assists to his name just yet, but he’s delivered 12 balls into the penalty area (an average of four per game), and launched 16 searching runs into an opponents area (5.3 on average per game). Lionel Messi is still proving himself to be a real menace in goalscoring areas.

3. Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema is quickly establishing himself as a France’s main outlet for goals this campaign, having already notched himself a total of three goals so far.
Karim Benzema - FranceWith a percentage of 75% of shots hitting the target, you can guarantee he’s go more goals in him in the knockout stages, which will prove vital for France’s tournament winning chances.

2. Neymar JR

Dubbed Brazil’s ‘golden boy’, Neymar has been the star of the Brazilian team so far on home soil. Racking up four goals from his opening three group games, his attempts on target average out at a staggering 91%.
Neymar - BrazilHe often makes his own goalscoring luck, having made 11 solo runs into opposition penalty areas, as well as providing eight deliveries for teammates. Get this man into a goalscoring position, he won’t let you down.

1. Arjen Robben

His link-up play with Robin van Persie has been the making of the Netherlands’ success so far in the group stages, and many saw him as the mastermind on the pitch behind the famous 5-1 dismantling of Spain in their opening game. Using his turn of pace to create goal scoring opportunities, Arjen Robben has three goals and one assist so far this campaign.
Arjen Robben - NetherlandsHis attempts on target equal that of Neymar at 91%, and he’s made 10 troublesome solo runs into enemy areas. Once van Persie returns from suspension in the knockout stages, you can expect him to continue from where he left off.

It is a cliche that attacking players make the headlines, with their goals and creative flair. But it is down the opposite end of the pitch where form is just as vital.

At the back for Germany, Mats Hummels has pitched in with goals as well as fulfilling his defensive duties. With one goal to his name from a set-piece against Portugal, he’s recovered 18 loose balls, blocked two shots, and has a pass completion rate of 81%. In goal for Mexico, Guillermo Ochoa has been on terrific form averaging an 89% save rate, and making five important clearances. And Brazil’s David Luiz has built up an 81% pass completion rate from the defensive back line, as well as recovering 16 loose balls and making four important blocks.

Finally, a worthy mention here for Robin van Persie, Enner Valencia, Clint Dempsey, Mario Gotze, and Thomas Muller here, who just missed out on our top rankings, but are also having a stellar World Cup campaign thus far.

All stats are from the Castrol index FIFA.com.

Originally published at cravingfootball.co.uk

Post written by Ian Gurney, Twitter: @Ian_Gurney
for Craving Football, Blog: cravingfootball.co.uk, Twitter: @cravingfootball

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