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Duarte: Dunga's return is complicated

Brazil Jul 21, 2014
Read
Jul 14, 2014

Best XI of the World Cup

Our 2014 World Cup team would take some beating.

This year's World Cup has seen the rise of the 3-5-2 formation, so it's only fair that our Best XI from the tournament lines up in the same way. Here are the 11 players who did more than any others to impress this summer.

GK: Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)

In a tournament rich in goalkeeping skills, it takes a lot to shine above the rest. There have been some standout performances this summer from the likes of the USA's Tim Howard, Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa and Nigerian stopper Vincent Enyeama. However, Costa Rica's No. 1 is the one between the posts as his overall form has been exemplary in the face of heavy pressure. Sharp, agile and a good decision-maker, Navas possesses skills that have drawn the attention of Bayern Munich, who look likely to complete a deal once the World Cup dust has settled. It would be a well-deserved move, and provides him a chance to test himself against Germany's Manuel Neuer, who also picked up recognition for a fine tournament in the form of the Golden Glove.

CB: Thiago Silva (Brazil)

The Brazilian skipper gets a black mark against his name for the stupidity of the booking that ruled him out of the semifinal, but the performance of his team in losing 7-1 to Germany suggests just how crucial the defender has been for them. The PSG man is one of the best in the world and seems to bring calm to the Brazilian defence, most notably when David Luiz is placed alongside him. Granted the Dutch exposed Silva's lack of pace and confidence in the race for third after the Germany thrashing, but for one aberration and a poorly timed team talk ahead of the semifinal, who knows where Silva could have taken Brazil.

CB: Giancarlo González (Costa Rica)

Not one of the first names in world football to jump out at you, the Costa Rican defender has won an army of new fans with his efforts in the centre of a five-man defence that conceded only two goals in normal time. His vision and strength in the tackle were key reasons why the Central Americans managed to get to the quarterfinals. Columbus Crew might find a host of clubs willing to spend good money to take the 26-year-old out of MLS next season.

CB: Mats Hummels (Germany)

Hummels has long been considered one of the finest young defenders in Europe and in this World Cup he has proved those claims. While speed has not been a strong suit for the German back line, the efficiency and organisation Hummels brings to the team ensured their way to the final, and his shackling of Lionel Messi showcased his skills on the biggest stage of all. The fact that he has chipped in with two goals shows that he is a threat in the air at the other end too, and Dortmund will be braced for offers from Europe's elite this summer.

DM: Javier Mascherano (Argentina)

Every team needs a player like Mascherano in it. Messi may get all the attention with goals and assists, but Mascherano is the platform upon which all of Argentina's play is built. While he often plays in the heart of defence for Barcelona, he operates as a shield for the back four for his country and wins the ball back, distributing it carefully to his more creative teammates. Passion, desire and a will to win: this man has it all and his presence in the centre of midfield is a calming influence to those around him. He was the best player in the final; sadly for him it didn't turn out as he would have wanted.

CM: Arturo Vidal (Chile)

In a tough group alongside Spain, Netherlands and Australia, Chile surprised many with their performances (although perhaps it was less of a surprise to those who had watched them regularly). A strong work ethic and team spirit are behind a lot of their success, but Vidal's presence in the centre of midfield is another main influence. The Juventus midfielder has already been courting the attention of Manchester United this summer, but his tackling, passing and drive in the centre have been a shining light in Brazil.

James Rodriguez was arguably the player of the tournament.

CM: James Rodriguez (Colombia)

Perhaps nobody has influenced this World Cup quite as much as the 22-year-old Colombian. Hardly an unknown before he made a 45 million-euro move to Monaco from FC Porto in 2013, the midfielder has oozed class throughout, scoring six goals in five games to take the Golden Boot prize. His effort against Uruguay was one of the goals of the tournament, but his influence on an impressive attacking Colombian side has marked him out as one of the best in the world. Real Madrid are likely to come calling, while Rodriguez basks in the glory of a wonderful summer.

LW: Thomas Muller (Germany)

Scoring a hat trick in his first game, a 4-0 win over Portugal, Muller hasn't looked back and now has an impressive World Cup goal tally of 10 at the tender age of 24. Given that the record of 16 was set by teammate Miroslav Klose in this very tournament, don't bet against the Bayern man breaking it in the future. As a false No. 9, or floating behind in any of the three attacking positions, Muller has proved himself to be a class act. He may look a little scruffy and need to work on his free kick routines, but he's been by far one of the best players in Brazil and deserves a World Cup trophy to take home.

RW: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

Glancing at the 30-year-old in action, you could be forgiven for thinking he was a lot younger. The speed with which Robben runs with the ball, evading defenders and cutting inside to shoot on his left foot with his trademark move, is impressive and was on full display as he netted three goals in his opening two games. The Dutchman faded a little in the knockout rounds as the side needed penalties to advance to the semis before losing in a shootout to Argentina. The winger is arguably the best in the world in his position on current form and Brazil's experience has not loosened his grip.

ST: Lionel Messi (Argentina)

It was the tournament that Messi was tipped to shine in. Parallels with Diego Maradona in 1986 couldn't have been missed before it began and the Barcelona star led his team from the front, literally winning matches for Argentina to haul them into the final. He faded somewhat in the latter stages, but his performances were still enough to walk away with the Golden Ball and, although his efforts in the final were not up to his usual standards, he can reflect with pride on an excellent tournament.

ST: Neymar (Brazil)

It was a cruel way to bow out of the tournament he had been on the verge of making his own. Juan Zuniga's crude challenge in the quarterfinal with Colombia broke a vertebra in the young forward's back and, in his own words, his "destiny in this World Cup was taken away." Before his injury, Neymar had been the driving force of a Brazil side under huge pressure to perform on home soil; he had looked capable of overcoming all obstacles and going some way to burying the ghosts of 1950. Four goals in his five games will not make the pain of the 7-1 defeat by Germany go away or the process of rebuilding any easier, but his unflappable form in the tournament ensures his place in the final XI here.

Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto (Costa Rica)

The Costa Rica manager deserves his place here more than any of the more established managers for what he achieved with his side. Tipped to be the whipping boys of Group D, the Ticos topped the table after beating Uruguay and Italy, and drawing 0-0 with England. A round-of-16 win over Greece on penalties saw them enter the quarterfinals for only the second time in their history, and it was only another shootout that denied them a shock win over the Dutch. "During this World Cup we have done very beautiful things that many people didn't believe we could achieve -- wonderful things," Pinto said after his side's exit. Surely, their exploits in Brazil have exceeded those of the famous 1990 team.

The ESPN FC World Cup Encore crew give their picks for Team of the Tournament.

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