The World Cup consists of 32 teams that fight until 1 wins. Each of those teams takes 23 players to the World Cup. Instead of ranking all the players in an orthodox manner, we created a 23-Man Squad for the best players at the World Cup.
-The squad consists of 20 outfielders and 3 goalkeepers, therefore making a total of 23 players.
-The players must play for teams that have reached the quarterfinals, but there is a notable omissions list. This means only players from Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Argentina and Belgium can be part of the list. It is most likely that only these 8 teams will be considered for the final XI and awards.
-This list is graded on statistics, but there is also a performance aspect. For example, Serge Romero of Argentina has 3 clean sheets, but he hasn’t really exceeded the expectations, even though he has been a solid option.
-The squad also includes a manager, and the eligible managers are Luis Felipe Scolari, Jose Pekerman, Didier Deschamps, Joachim Low, Louis Van Gaal, Jorge Luis Pinto, Alejandro Sabella, and Marc Wilmots.
Notable Omissions: This consists of players who were eliminated prematurely, but still stole the headlines. Note that these players are only players who are ineligible, rather than those who missed out. Also, these are in no particular order.
- Claudio Bravo, Goalkeeper, Chile, GK
- Alexis Sanchez, Chile, ST/RW
- Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria, GK
- Rais M’Bolhi, Algeria, GK
- Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico, GK
- Kostas Manolas, Greece, CB
- Stephan Lichsteiner, Switzerland, RB
- Johan Djourou, Switzerland, CB
- Ricardo Rodriguez, Switzerland, LB
- Valon Behrami, Switzerland, CDM
- Gokhan Inler, Switzerland, CM
- Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland, RM
- Tim Howard, USA, GK
- Fabian Johnson, USA, RB
- Michael Bradley, USA, CM
- Clint Dempsey, USA, ST
- Ivan Perisic, Croatia, LM/RM/CAM
- Tim Cahill, Australia, CF
- Gervinho, Ivory Coast, LW
- Andrea Pirlo, Italy, CM/CDM
- Enner Valencia, Ecuador, CAM/ST/F9
- Andre Ayew, Ghana, LW/CM
Honourable Mentions: These are the players who were eligible but just missed out, on standby in the 30. They are in order this time.
30. Mathieu Debuchy, France, RB- He provided a huge outlet from right back, and attacked significantly.
29. Dirk Kuyt, Netherlands, LWB/RWB/CM- He was so versatile, while on an absolutely stunning work rate.
28. Matthieu Valbuena, France, RW- He was France’s consistent playmaker, even when the midfield was held back against Germany.
27. Nigel De Jong, Netherlands, CDM/CM- He completely covered the Dutch midfield, especially in the 1st match, when he limited Xavi on his own.
26. Yohan Cabaye, France, CDM/CM- He was great at dropping into centre back when Debuchy and Evra were attacking, and allowing Pogba and Matuidi to attack as well. He ended up being better than all of those players anyway.
25. Angel Di Maria, Argentina, CAM/CM/LAM/LM- He was the only player to have an attacking threat in the first couple of games, while getting back to defend.
24. Luiz Gustavo, Brazil, CDM- He was 1 of 4 Brazil players who really met their lofty expectations. The other 3 just made the cut.
Manager- Jorge Luis Pinto, Costa Rica- His defensive setup was so organized that you could see the formation, and the only goal his team conceded that wasn’t from the penalty spot was with Keylor Navas down and only 10 men.
1st Place- Manuel Neuer was fantastic in every way possible. Not only did he guard his goal with pride, he also moved up the pitch as a sweeper keeper. Look at this heatmap against Algeria.
He edges Keylor Navas only because his performances changed Germany’s fate, while Costa Rica ended up losing out in the end.
2nd Place-Keylor Navas made Netherlands and Greece feel like there was a screen in front of the goal, while sustaining 2 injuries in both of those matches. He was truly inspiring in both penalty shootouts.
3rd Place- Hugo Lloris is behind the Top 2 by a landslide, but he edged many other goalkeepers because of his ability to play as a sweeper keeper as well.
1st Place- When Jan Vertonghen, a makeshift fullback for the national team is a bigger playmaking threat than Eden Hazard or Kevin De Bruyne and a better defender than Toby Alderweireld.
2nd Place- Philipp Lahm was the best in this category, but he missed out due to the fact that he switched positions later. He was a master at defensive midfield in the beginning, but he was moved to fullback, not because of his inabilities, but because of Germany’s inabilities in the position when he isn’t there.
Tied For 3rd Place- Daley Blind was the man behind the series, or the director in the Spain game, assisting Van Persie’s flying header and one of Arjen Robben’s goals from the left flank. Not only did he do this, he also helped in centre back against Chile and kept a clean sheet, and he switched to defensive-midfield when De Jong was injured against Mexico.
Tied For 3rd Place- Benedikt Howedes struggled against Algeria, but he was completely different otherwise. Against Portugal, he shut out Nani and Joao Pereira, and he was so defensively effective against France that Deschamps switched Valbuena to France’s left flank… where Philipp Lahm defended.
1st Place- We all saw how much Germany’s back line suffered against Algeria when Mats Hummels had a virus. Otherwise, he single-handedly shut out Griezmann and Benzema against France, shut out Portugal’s speedy front line of Ronaldo, Eder and Nani with Mertesacker, arguably the slowest player around next to him, and he buried 2 Toni Kroos setpieces.
2nd Place- David Luiz should really perform this way on the club stage! Not only did he reduce his error count, he also scored vital goals in both of Brazil’s matches, including a complete golazo from a free kick against Colombia.
3rd Place- You would be hard pressed to find a better 5 man back defender than Stefan De Vrij. He covers the right side of the defence when the wingbacks are held up, he wins aerial duels, he can keep up with fast players and he is very dangerous in the opposition box, as he showed when he netted in the demolition of Spain. I’d be surprised if Louis Van Gaal didn’t try to bring him to Old Trafford.
4th Place- Ron Vlaar has been really shaky for Aston Villa, but he has really proven himself at this World Cup. Not many defenders have gotten past him, he is solid in the box, and he really stepped up in the knockout stages. He would be right up there with De Vrij, but he doesn’t have the same attacking threat, or youth upside, being 7 years older than De Vrij.
5th Place- Thiago Silva took a severe hit when he made a pointless challenge on Ospina. He got a yellow card that suspended him against Germany. It seems as if he tried to mess up Brazil. He slowly begun to organize and lead the error prone backline, but now he is gone for an absolutely pointless challenge and is replaced by the error savvy Dante, completing the defence line with… errors.
1st Place- Toni Kroos played a fantastic set of matches, being the playmaking outlet from the outside of the box. He made plays, drew many fouls, outplayed Blaise Matuidi, Joao Moutinho and Michael Bradley, and assisted 2 setpiece goals for Mats Hummels (Shown In the Defence Section). How did he do it all?
2nd Place- Wesley Sneijder did everything a midfielder could do… he played the role of a bursting midfielder against Spain a la Vidal, he played the connecting, passing role against Mexico a la Xavi, and he attacked with technical skill and complete pressure a la Juan Mata. He did all of these absolutely spectacularly, and he will be absolutely instrumental if Netherlands goes further, as he will have to take down Javier Mascherano.
Tied for 2nd Place- Javier Mascherano will be charged with denying Sneijder a way in, but this guy has been brilliant. He has gotten progressively better until he hit the peak against Belgium, as the Belgians didn’t even get a look in from the centre. The centre backs probably didn’t need to be there at some points in the match!
4th Place- Sami Khedira was brilliant in the Portugal game, providing perfect defensive cover from a higher position. Against France, he took the game to a new level, forcing even Paul Pogba to stay back and defend. His presence, much like Hummels, was missing in the Algeria game.
Attacking Midfield and Wide:
1st Place- James Rodriguez has taken the World by storm in the past 3 weeks, and the 22 year old should now be the biggest plyer in the summer market. In his 5 games, he scored 6 goals, claimed 2 assists and was instrumental in more goals from set pieces, he got 4 MOTMs, and absolutely shook the World Cup.
Tied For 2nd Place- Lionel Messi isn’t used to being 2nd. He has scored 4 goals and provided or scored the match winner in 4 of Argentina’s 5 matches. Not only has he done that, he has created ample chances and been better than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Tied For 2nd Place- It is a real shame that Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller all play in these areas, as Muller has shaken the World too. He scored a hat trick against Portugal, and he put in the winner against USA, also claiming assists against Ghana and Algeria. He was a constant threat against France, and this guy has an insane eye for goal, along with an insane conversion rate.
Tied For 2nd Place- Arjen Robben has shown why he is better than Franck Ribery. He can beat opponents, shoot or cross, make plays, win setpieces, take setpieces and do it all. His free flowing role and combination with Van Persie and Sneijder has been the best attack to watch so far, as they slowly broke down every opponent with Louis Van Gaal’s tactical masterpiece.
5th Place- Juan Cuillermo Cuadrado adds so much versatility to the Colombian game. He can play from wide, centrally, at right back, or as a wingback. There was no chance that any winger was as good as Cuadrado, as he claimed 4 assists and scored a goal too.
6th Place- Neymar is another talent in this position. Sadly, his tournament is over, but it ended very well. He got 4 goals, was Brazil’s only real threat in attack, with the defenders scoring to bail them out in the knockouts. He fractured his 3rd Vertebra because the referee didn’t have control of the game, sadly.
1st Place- Robin Van Persie put up 5 great showings. The first was a MOTM performance against Spain when he scored the flying header that was shown in the defence section of the article. Without him, Netherlands would not have a true box threat in their free flowing 3-4-1-2/3-4-3/3-5-2 system.
2nd Place- Karim Benzema scored 3 and assisted 2, and he should’ve been credited for the own goal in the Honduras game. Going out of the group stage, he had the best tally alongside James Rodriguez, but he didn’t show up in the knockouts, struggling on the wing against Nigeria and not being good enough to even test Manuel Neuer against Germany (I don’t blame him). He still is a must have option.
Louis Van Gaal, Netherlands 1st Place- If you had to pick a manager that had to undergo so much and still make his team World Class, Louis Van Gaal fits the bill. After Netherlands lost Kevin Strootman, he lacked the midfielders to pull a 4-3-3. Switching to his 3-4-3 system, he has taken a strange formation and proven that it is one of the best in the World. His free flowing attack system that involves telepathic connection is perfected. He has Robin Van Persie scoring headers from close to 20 yards, Daley Blind crossing from the left wing at the half line, Arjen Robben playing striker, Nigel De Jong is playing like never before, Ron Vlaar is rejuvenated, Stefan De Vrij is the best 5 man back defender in the tournament, and he tactically substitutes a goalkeeper in for a penalty shootout. He has masterminded opponents, and expect him to keep doing so.
How Would The Starting XI Look: This is how the starting XI would probably play out, in Barcelona’s 4-3-3 False 9 Formation.
Manuel Neuer Starts in goal, with Juan Cuadrado moved to right-back. Mats Hummels and David Luiz steal the centre back spots, while Jan Vertonghen is at left-back. In defensive midfield, Javier Mascherano is in, with Toni Kroos in the centre of the park. At attacking midfield, James Rodriguez would make the plays. Arjen Robben holds the role on his playmaking left-wing, with Lionel Messi cutting in from the right-wing. Thomas Muller is the false nine, as he played when he obliterated Portugal. We are still waiting for Tuesday, when injury ravaged versions of Brazil and Germany fight for a spot in the last 2.
Who do you think deserved a shout? Let us know in the comment section.