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Now that the World Cup is done and dusted, Ian Gurney takes a look at his best starting eleven.

How do your rate the side?

Brazuca and FIFA World Cup trophy at the MaracanaGK – Manuel Neuer (GER)

Picking up the Golden Glove award on the same night as his winners medal, Germany’s first choice stopper Manuel Neuer stands tall (6ft 4 inches to be exact) between the sticks in our World Cup 2014 best XI of Brazil. The Bayern Munich keeper kept 4 clean sheets out of all 7 matches that he appeared in the tournament, with a save rate of a very dependable 86.2%. Known for his sometimes over-eager commanding of his penalty area (by this I mean his rushing out to make challenges and clearances), the German ‘sweeper keeper’ performed this role competently and quelled some rather potent looking counter attacks from his opposition in an instant, most notably against France.

RB – Philipp Lahm (GER)

Another German recruit that forms a strong base of our team’s defence is that of Philipp Lahm. His consistent performances perhaps go unnoticed at times, in the way that he quietly and solidly goes about his business in his full back role in the Germany team. But getting forward to support attacks by providing an open option and contributing crosses, as well as tirelessly making up the distance to get back into his position and defend, captain fantastic Lahm managed a pass completion rate of 86.3% and grabbed two assists to help the men in white lift the trophy.

CB’s – Ron Vlaar (NED) & Mats Hummels (GER)

The first of our Dutch inclusion is that of Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar. Their man at the back commanded his back line well, keeping them in top defensive shape and working cohesively. Playing all 7 of the Netherlands’ matches, he recovered possession 42 times, made 5 blocks and won 2 tackles in a very solid showing in the heart of the orange defence. Not to mention, his defensive positioning was always spot on.

Germany centre back Mats Hummels was another who had an impressive World Cup campaign. Playing in 6 out of Germany’s 7 matches, the 25 year old of Borussia Dortmund contributed to his club’s fortunes at the top end of the pitch, as well as carrying out his defensive duties on the German back line. He notched two goals from set plays, as well as recovering possession 47 times and making 5 vital blocks to shut out goal scoring threats.

LB – Daley Blind (NED)

One name that perhaps wasn’t so familiar to you before the World Cup but will be now, is that of Netherlands star Daley Blind. Operating in a wing back role, Blind often got forward and probed dangerous crosses for Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben to attack, most noticeably his 40 yard pass to van Persie to convert a diving header against Spain. He notched a much deserved goal against Brazil in their third place play-off match, and managed a pass completion rate of 82%. The Ajax man has certainly made people sit up and take notice of him.

CM’s – Toni Kroos (GER) & Javier Mascherano (ARG)

24 year old Toni Kroos, of Bayern Munich but soon-to-be Real Madrid, has certainly been busy throughout the tournament. Scoring two goals against Brazil and assisting 4 others throughout the tournament, it is rumoured this guy is off to Real Madrid in a big money move following his impressive displays in Brazil and with a passing average of 84.8% in the centre of the park, it is easy to see why.

Next up, Javier Mascherano, Argentina’s anchorman in the middle of the park. The way he protected their back four and read the game to make timely interceptions and passing distributions was second to none. Despite getting clattered on more than one occasion against Germany in the final, he continued to return to his feet and soldier on for the sake of his country. A player with that sort of passion and determination is a rare breed to come by. Appearing regularly and running out 720 minutes for his country in Brazil, the Barcelona man recovered possession 49 times and tallied up a pass completion rate of 85.6%.

LM – James Rodriguez (COL)

A big success story and an obvious inclusion into the team is Columbia’s James Rodriguez. The 23 year old who plays for Monaco has reportedly since attracted the attention of Real Madrid, having scored 6 goals in 5 games from Columbia’s midfield, including a spectacular volley against Uruguay. Covering every blade of grass, he even grabbed 2 assists for his team too, not bad for your World Cup debut!

RM – Arjen Robben (NED)

A lively Arjen Robben has had to endure his fair share of highs and lows throughout his Brazilian adventure. Having admitted diving to win a penalty against Mexico in the 2nd round, Robben was heavily criticised for his actions and was sternly watched from then on in in case of any further theatrics. But be that as it may, the Dutchman has been an absolute menace and forged a solid striking partnership with Robin van Persie from the start with both scoring twice in their famous 5-1 win over Spain. The 30 year old played every game for the men in orange, scoring a total of 3 times, providing one assist, he completed 38 solo runs into enemy territory, and was immensely accurate by firing 95% of his shots on target!

ST’s – Lionel Messi (ARG) & Thomas Muller (GER)

Winning the Golden Boot award would have been seen as little as a consolation by Lionel Messi to the bigger prize of World Cup glory on offer in Argentina’s final loss to Germany. But nevertheless, the Argentinian magician showed us that when he may not seem to be hitting top form, he can provide moments of quality that can change, and in Argentina’s case save, matches. Having looked out of sorts against Bosnia and Herzegovina with wayward passing and unsuccessful runs, he popped up with the deciding goal, and it was after that goal that we began to see the return of the old Lionel Messi that we have become accustomed to watching torment opposition defences. Finishing up with 4 goals and 1 assist, the Argentinian captain completed 34 solo runs into opposition territory, threatening to produce something special with every touch.

Bringing the grand total of German inclusions in our team to 5, it’s a testament to just how well they have played in Brazil. Bayern Munich striker Thomas Muller set out his intentions for the tournament early with a hat-trick in Germany’s opening group game against Portugal, and he’s looked a constant goal threat ever since. The 24 year old scored an impressive 5 goals in total, assisting 3, and saw 62.5% of his efforts hit the target. There’s good things to come from this guy in the future.

Originally published at cravingfootball.co.uk

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

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

Image Credits
Brazuca and FIFA World Cup trophy at the Maracana © FIFA.com

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