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Jul
15

Team of the tournament

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Team of the tournament as selected by Reuters journalists (4-3-3):

Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas (Costa Rica).

Defenders: Philipp Lahm (Germany), Mats Hummels (Germany), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Marcos Rojo (Argentina).

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), James Rodriguez (Colombia).

Forwards: Neymar (Brazil), Thomas Mueller (Germany), Lionel Messi (Argentina).

Goalkeeper. Keylor Navas. One notable aspect of the tournament has been the consistently high standard of goalkeeping and any of half a dozen could have staked a claim.

Navas gets the nod after terrific performances in the group stage against the might of Italy, Uruguay and England. He also made the only save in the penalty shootout win over Greece to send his nation into the quarterfinals for the first time.

Right back. Philipp Lahm. One of the world’s best in his position for years but spent the group phase playing solidly, if unspectacularly, in midfield. Switched to right back for the quarterfinal, he had more freedom to roam and his presence gave a much better balance to a back four that has looked more solid since.

Centre back. Mats Hummels. Whether alongside Per Mertesacker in the group stage or Jerome Boateng in the knockout games, Hummels was an immense presence for Germany and weighed in with two goals.

Centre back. Thiago Silva. His importance to the Brazil team became shockingly apparent when, with him absent through suspension they were run ragged by Germany in the 7-1 semifinal defeat. A vital strand of stability among his more attack-minded colleagues, he will long regret the moment of stupidity that earned him a second tournament booking in the quarterfinal against Colombia.

Left back. Marcos Rojo. Another player who suffered a suspension following an impressive group stage but Argentina coped without him against Belgium in the quarterfinal and he returned to do a great job snuffing out various threats as part of a superb Argentine defensive display in the semifinal against the Netherlands.

Midfielder. Javier Mascherano. An absolute rock in midfield for Argentina, Mascherano is the sort of player, physically and emotionally, that all great teams have.

He has boundless energy and a huge appetite for destroying opposition attacks but, with maturity, he has learned how to do it without giving away endless free kicks.

Midfielder. Arjen Robben. Again proved himself the go-to man with his driving run – and controversial tumble – that earned a last-gasp penalty to beat Mexico in the second round.

Was superb in the opening demolition of Spain, showing athletic control and amazing five-metre pace, and he scored three goals in the tournament. He struggled to find space in the semi-final against Argentina but was again influential as the Dutch beat Brazil 3-0 in the third-place playoff.

Midfielder. James Rodriguez. The only unanimous selection from more than 30 Reuters journalists, Rodriguez was the tournament’s leading scorer. Six goals in five games plus a handful of assists are merely the bare statistics of a performance of remarkable confidence for a player who turned 23 on Saturday.

His brilliant turn and volley to set Colombia on their way to victory over Uruguay in the second round is a strong contender for goal of the tournament and Rodriguez rightly returned to a hero’s welcome after playing well and scoring a penalty in the quarterfinal loss to Brazil.

Forward. Neymar. Though his tournament ended in physical and mental agony, Neymar can look back with immense pride. Playing under huge pressure as he carried the hopes of a nation, the World Cup poster boy looked sharp and confident from the start.

He scored the nerve-settling equaliser in the opening win against Croatia and ended with four goals in all. He also converted the decisive penalty in the shootout win over Chile.

It all went wrong near the end of the quarterfinal victory over Colombia, however, when he cracked a vertebra after being caught in the back by a flailing knee, left the pitch crying in pain and was ruled out of the semifinals.

Forward. Thomas Mueller. Followed up his five-goal 2010 World Cup with another five in Brazil, including a hat-trick in the 4-0 group stage win over Portugal. Mueller has looked sharp and mobile throughout the tournament, not only as a goal threat but also in combination with his team mates, and he was a key figure in the semifinal destruction of Brazil and final win over Argentina.

Forward: Lionel Messi. Messi scored his first World Cup goal in eight years in the opening win over Bosnia and went on to get three more in the group stage, including a brilliant left-foot shot to beat Iran.

He did not find the net in their four knockout games – other than a penalty in the shootout win over the Netherlands – as opponents have swarmed all over him. However, Messi has still looked dangerous and has delivered some sublime passes.

Subdued in the final defeat by Germany, Messi looked disconsolate as he collected the player of the tournament award rather than the World Cup winner’s medal he craved.

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