The 2014 World Cup has come to a close. Here are Best XI’s for the tournament from TBL soccer writers Ty Duffy and Mike Cardillo
Forwards: The great players, by and large, showed up. Neymar, Messi and Robben carried their teams, until felled by an injury, a late goal and penalties respectively.
Midfield: Thomas Muller is a goal scoring machine. Kroos had an excellent tournament. James Rodriguez was the player of the tournament. Mascherano was the best all-around player of the tournament.
Defense: Moving Lahm back to his natural position made all the difference for Germany. Hummels contributed at both ends. Humdrum Ron Vlaar unlocked Dutch legend status with his World Cup effort.
Goalkeeper: There were many, many noteworthy goalkeeping performances this tournament. We have to give it to the one left standing.
Forwards: Lionel Messi probably wasn’t the best player in Brazil, but did win a couple games for Argentina, dragging his team into the final. It says a lot about sports in 2014 that you need to defend Messi’s inclusion on a “best” list, doesn’t it? Arjen Robben never stopped attacking the opposing defense, right up until the 120th minute in the semifinals vs. Argentina.
Midfield: It appears both Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez are on their way to Real Madrid. Javier Mascherano reminded us why he’s one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, not a makeshift central defender as Barcelona has used him the last few seasons. The way Thomas Müller wears his socks so low might have been my favorite thing in the entire World Cup.
Defense: I’m including Thiago Silva here simply because when he was suspended vs. Germany in the semifinal, Brazil gave up a humiliating seven goals. Lahm and Boateng were both excellent when Jogi Löw moved them into their proper positions, right back and center back respectively. Say hi to Biff Tannern for me if you had Ron Vlaar on a Best XI list pre-World Cup.
Goalkeeper: At times, Neuer looked more like a rugby or Aussie rules player than a soccer goalie. His “sweeper keeper” performance vs. Algeria is one for the ages. Amazingly, Neuer completed more passes than Lionel Messi at the tournament.