The World Cup is all about which nation brings the trophy home, and today, Germany and Argentina will fight for that title for the 3rd time in the last 30 years. After that, the individual awards go out, and there are 4 notable ones; The Golden Boot, The Golden Ball, The Golden Glove, and The Young Player Award. Yesterday, the finalists of each award were revealed, and going into the final, we give you a preview by ranking players based on performance.
The Golden Boot is awarded to the player that scores the most goals in the tournament. Tiebreakers are assists and minutes played. There are only 3 contenders remaining, unless Toni Kroos can score 4 goals today or Andre Schurrle can score 4 (or 3 and 3 assists).
3rd Place- Lionel Messi, Argentina
Lionel Messi has shown everyone who he is in this World Cup; a player that thrives in technical situations and whom you can’t even give the ball. Although he hasn’t scored since the Group Stages, he would be the first pick in anyone’s mind to win a goal scoring award. The only problem is, he needs either 2 goals and 2 assists or 3 goals, AND he has to prevent Thomas Muller from scoring. Expect the Argentinian superstar to make more of a run for the Golden Ball.
Tied For 1st Place- James Rodriguez, Colombia
James Rodriguez has been the rising star this World Cup, and he has been sheltered from the limelight on the club level, playing in the Portuguese and French leagues that aren’t near the best in the World. He scored 6 goals and 2 assists, and you would really fancy him to win the award if Colombia wasn’t eliminated in the quarterfinal. He will be praying that Germany’s Thomas Muller doesn’t score. He is the only player that didn’t make the semis to be nominated for the Golden Ball.
Tied For 1st Place- Thomas Muller, Germany
Thomas Muller needs to score 1 goal to take his 2nd consecutive Golden Boot. Although his teammate Miroslav Klose claimed the award of Top Scorer Ever in the World Cup history, Muller looks primed to take it in the future, scoring 10 goals in 11 matches in 2 World Cups, at the tender age of 24. His insane record would lead you to believe that he will score in the final, and if Germany wins, he could go for the double of Golden Boot and Ball (which would make him one of, if not the most successful player in World Cup history at 24).
The Golden Glove is awarded based on a study by the FIFA Technical Study Group to the best goalkeeper in the tournament. There are 3 finalists, 2 of which are in the final. Note that goalkeepers are also eligible for the golden ball, but none made the final list.
3rd Place- Sergio Romero, Argentina
Sergio Romero really came into consideration during the semifinals, in which he saved 2 Dutch penalties to spark Argentina into the finals. At this point in time, people started to realize that he has the most Clean Sheets in the tournament, with 4, and even though that is because of the defence, it does no harm to his reputation.
2nd Place- Keylor Navas, Costa Rica
Keylor Navas took his form in La Liga to the World Cup. He is unknown to many because he plays for Levante, but the stopper alone took Levante about 7 spots up the La Liga table. He brought this to Costa Rica’s defensive set up in the World Cup, and carried them into the quarterfinals with an inspiring performance that saw him play through 2 injuries to save a penalty and move Costa Rica through. Against Netherlands, he took them to a shootout and he lost there, which hampers his chances. His skills and performance levels make beating him an absolutely ridiculous thing to do.
1st Place- Manuel Neuer, Germany
No one knows how Manuel Neuer does it. He is elastic in the hands, with his long reach and he runs out of the box more than Per Mertesacker. When Mats Hummels wasn’t around, Neuer was up to the challenge of preventing pacey forwards from getting a way in, and if Germany scores first in the final, expect Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels (if fit) to win the match for them.
Young Player Award:
The Young Player Award is given to the best player in the tournament that was born on or after January 1st, 1993. 3 names have been shortlisted for the award, but there is no obvious winner this time as in 2010, Thomas Muller took the Golden Boot at the tender age of 20.
3rd Place- Raphael Varane, France
Although Raphael Varane is by far and wide the most complete player even eligible for this award and one of the most complete youngsters ever, he plays as a centre back and when looking to the future, you tend to look at the goal scorers. Also, he made an error against Germany that resulted in them being eliminated, and even though you can’t blame him for being unable to track a Toni Kroos set piece, it cost France dearly.
2nd Place- Memphis Depay, Netherlands
Memphis Depay has the best combined (goals + assists) tally of all the nominees, getting 2 goals and 1 assist. The 1st was a winner against Australia. You already have that feeling that Depay will be huge, but he is still relatively raw. If he gets a transfer to Manchester United under Louis Van Gaal, expect him to develop alongside Adnan Januzaj, who sadly didn’t get enough minutes this tournament.
1st Place- Paul Pogba, France
Paul Pogba showed that he can do it all as a central midfielder in the world cup. His bursting runs fit the mould of the new archetypal central engine midfielder. He would be the outright favourite to win the award (and he probably still will), even though Pogba showed that his passing is yet to be complete. This is irrelevant, as this award is about building for the future and Memphis Depay is still also incredibly raw.
The Golden Ball is awarded to “The Best Player” at the World Cup based on a study from The FIFA Technical Study Group. 10 names have been nominated and you have to seriously question who would be on this list. Keep in mind at this point this specific ranking is based on performance and not likelihood of winning.
10th Place- Angel Di Maria, Argentina
Angel Di Maria is a key player to Argentina’s formation and played so, so well in Argentina’s tournament. He didn’t really post amazing statistics, as he didn’t play a huge part in Argentina’s defence or attack. Di Maria doesn’t usually receive the credit he warrants, and you have to question his claim for the best player overall, as he wasn’t fit for the semi-final and he is in huge questioning for the Germany clash. In addition to that, he doesn’t post anything even close to the stats of the rest of the players in the list, because he wasn’t part of any end product other than 1 goal against Switzerland.
9th Place- Neymar, Brazil
Neymar carried Brazil to the semi-final, and he played very well, scoring 4 goals and claiming 1 assist in 5 games. He was truly brilliant, and he showed us why he is Brazil’s best player. Even though Brazil made it to the semi-finals, Neymar’s tournament was over in the quarters, which completely hampered his chance to win either the Golden Boot or the Golden Ball.
8th Place- Philipp Lahm, Germany
Philipp Lahm was truly spectacular this tournament, playing in 2 positions; defensive midfield and right back. He earned more plaudits after switching to right back, as Germany struggled in the position, than in the centre of the park, because even though he was equally adept at both positions, it was less needed in the centre. Lahm then faces 2 drawbacks. The first is that the World of 10 years ago, when defenders and goalkeepers could win the biggest awards, has faded away. The 2nd is that he hasn’t gotten even close to the amount of credit he deserves, as if you look closely, you could make a case of Lahm blowing everyone else out of the water.
7th Place- James Rodriguez, Colombia
James Rodriguez was the best player at the World Cup during his time around. He faces 1 major problem, and that problem is that no player that didn’t make it past the quarterfinal stages has ever won the Golden Ball. He also played opposition that, other than Ivory Coast, simply wasn’t on form at the time he played them. James Rodriguez would break many records if he won the golden ball, but we have become used to that sort of thing with this guy.
6th Place- Javier Mascherano, Argentina
Javier Mascherano is the real reason why Argentina only conceded 3 goals… not their defence. He blocks the centre of the park perfectly, while slowly destroying opposition through Angel Di Maria. Even though he doesn’t have a goal or assist to his name as a midfielder, expect Mascherano to go down as one of the best in the tournament- and expect Germany to start Thomas Muller from the right!
5th Place- Lionel Messi, Argentina
IF Argentina wins today and Messi gets an assist, he WILL win the Golden Ball. Messi has been brilliant, but on the other side, we have seen better than him this time around, and he hasn’t made an impact since the Switzerland game. Sadly, Messi is likely to be voted more than the talents above, just because of who he is. That’s not to say he played badly, though.
4th Place- Arjen Robben, Netherlands
Arjen Robben hasn’t gotten a goal or assist since the knockout stages began. The thing he has done as opposed to Messi is, he has broken every defence he met (other than Argentina themselves). Arjen Robben has been brilliant, and still has all the attributes at the age of 30. He can do it all- beat opponents, pass, draw fouls, play set pieces, score goals, and make plays. If there is something Arjen Robben can’t do in this role, could you tell me what it is in the comment section? We would all be laughing at this “nomination” list if Arjen Robben posted better stats.
3rd Place- Toni Kroos, Germany
Toni Kroos shows us where Mascherano would be if he posted more attacking stats in the modern day game. Kroos has done everything. Although he wasn’t really given credit until the quarterfinals, he has been fantastic. He had 2 assists in Germany’s opener, and 1 from the win against France. He scored 2 and got ANOTHER assist against Brazil, which totals up to 6 (goals + assists), a tally that is only bettered by 2 players in the tournament. He won’t win the award, but he is one of the best players on the list. Most of his assists are under Mats Hummels goals.
2nd Place- Mats Hummels, Germany
Every team this World Cup had an important player. Argentina had Messi, Netherlands had Robben, Brazil had Neymar and Colombia had James Rodriguez. Germany has been known for their all-round play, but if you asked me who their important player was, I’d say Mats Hummels in a heartbeat. Hummels is brilliant! He deals with opposition defenders, removes the best attacker from the other team from each game (Ronaldo, Benzema, Brazil in General). He has a knack for scoring insane setpieces, as shown against Portugal and France (and those were assisted by Kroos, 3rd Place). Without him, you saw how Germany suffered against Algeria, and the entire nation will hope he is fit for the final, even though he won’t win the award because of his position.
1st Place- Thomas Muller, Germany
It has all gone perfectly for Thomas Muller to stake his claim as the Golden Ball winner. Going out of the Group Stages, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema, Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and him would’ve been in people’s mind for the award (everyone knows an attacking player will win it). Benzema had a huge downfall, James Rodriguez was eliminated early for the award, Messi and Robben haven’t scored a goal since then, and Van Persie gets offside calls like there is no tomorrow. Thomas Muller has remained consistent, scoring 1 and assisting 2, and if Germany wins the World Cup, Thomas Muller has pretty much won the award (he gets my vote anyway).
My Projected Winners:
- Golden Boot: Thomas Muller, Germany/James Rodriguez, Colombia
- Golden Glove: Manuel Neuer, Germany
- Young Player Award: Paul Pogba, France
- Golden Ball Award: Thomas Muller, Germany (unless Argentina wins tomorrow)
In your eyes, who will win each award? Let me know in the comment section.
Update on Draw:
Germany and Argentina contest the World Cup final today, after a month of great moments. Let’s look at the final draw:
Who will bring it home today? Be sure to tune in to the biggest football day in 4 years.